“This is the first movie of its kind and it’s something people have been looking for…” - hmv.com talks to the stars of Love, Simon
Teen dramas don’t much come with a much bigger heart than Love, Simon.
Adapted from Becky Albertalli's bestseller Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, the story follows Simon, a boy in high school who is weighing up when the right time is to tell his friends and family that he is gay. Sadly, when someone attempts to blackmail him, the timing is taken out of his hands…
Nick Robinson, best known for his roles in Jurassic World and Everything Everything, stars alongside 13 Reasons Why’s Katherine Langford, with Josh Duhamel, Jennifer Garner and Alexandra Shipp also in key roles. Greg Berlanti, who cut his teeth writing on timeless teen drama Dawson's Creek and now has credits on the likes of Brothers & Sisters, The Flash, Eli Stone and Arrow, takes charge of this one.
As the movie comes to cinemas on Friday (April 6th), we spoke to Robinson and Langford about their roles in this warm-hearted, but complex teen drama...
How did you get involved in Love, Simon?
Nick: “I wasn’t aware of the book, but Greg reached out to me and asked to meet, a couple of years ago now. He told me about the idea and asked me to audition. Then I came in to read with everyone. So it was a long process, two years or more, but Greg really championed me and this whole project. He had a vision and an idea for this and without him none of us would be here.”
Katherine: “The script arrived one day. I hadn’t finished 13 Reasons Why, a really intense experience, we were still shooting and I wasn’t looking for anything else. But I was so enamoured by the script, the joy and the power of the words and I wanted to be a part of it. Then I met Greg and he really sold me on his vision for the film. Then I tested with Nick and I got the job.”
What attracted you to the film?”
Nick: “Two things. First, the script was really sweet, it’s a great story and I really got caught up in it when I read it. Second, I think the movie has a really great message, it’s the first movie of its kind and it’s something people have been looking for. I didn’t realise a story like this hadn’t been made yet until Greg and I started talking."
Katherine: “It was a very easy script to read, but it also evoked so many different emotions in ways that you’d never suspect. The lens we tell this story through, I knew it had the potential to be something special. Leah, my character, gets her own journey. This is Simon’s story and it’s his love story, but the beauty of the film is how many characters there are and how well they’re treated. It’s an age where everything around you is changing so fast, you’re hanging on to what you can. It really resonated with me.”
Nick: “Simon is an interesting character. He’s built his whole life around keeping his identity and who he really is a secret. That’s his routine, so it’s interesting when it gets turned on its head and your deepest, darkest secret is exposed. To me, that was a good journey and interesting character arc, but one that lots of people go through. It’s exciting to be part of a project like this, a first.”
With it being the first movie of its kind, did you feel more pressure to get things right?
Nick: “In a sense. I knew if this didn’t go well then there may not be another shot for another filmmaker. We tried to make a good story, one we would want to see, we didn’t arrive on set everyday feeling like social warriors. We were aware of all that, we were onboard with the film’s message, but the story comes first. I think that’s the movie’s strength, it’s a kid in high school who happens to be gay, the story stands alone without the message.”
Technology plays a huge part in this movie, a key relationship is all on email and there’s a big role for social media. That must be a concern, because technology moves so fast, so watching in two years’ time, things might have changed completely...
Nick: “There’s a fine line to walk, and I think this movie walks it very well, which is making the story modern and relevant, but keeping the feel of those timeless high school movies. The social media aspect is well done and it’s a huge part of adolescence now. It puts so much pressure on you and social media has this permanence. You post something and it’s there forever. It makes you hyper self-aware at a time in your life when you’re already very self-aware. That makes you afraid to try new things and new experiences, knowing that they might be documented.”
Katherine: “The presence of technology really makes the film current and relatable. You can see the impact social media has on everyday life and the pressure it puts on everybody.”
From watching the film, it looked like you had real camaraderie with the rest of the cast, did it feel like that making the film?
Nick: “There was real camaraderie. We had two weeks of rehearsals before we started and that was a huge help. We workshopped and we tried things and we failed plenty of times, but we really figured out what worked. That cemented a bond, it made it easier to pretend to be best friends. That chemistry you see isn’t completely bogus.”
Katherine: “Those two weeks were huge. We hung out, we went out and did things together and built the dynamic you see onscreen. We were very lucky, I loved everyone who helped make this film.”
How was it working with Greg?
Nick: “Greg has been a champion of this movie from day one. Working with him was a pleasure. He’s a smart, sweet, compassionate human being and his guidance and leadership on this movie were crucial. You could talk to him about anything, what coming out was like for him, what his experiences in high school were like, he was great at putting into context why we did everything, if I was nervous, or anyone was struggling, he was great at motivating everybody and keeping things on track. I think we’ve made something special.”
Katherine: “He was fantastic. He was the perfect person for this film. He understood the story absolutely and he brought with him a wonderful openness. He’s a generous person and he created a great vibe on set.”
What was the most challenging scene to shoot?
Katherine: “There’s a scene where my character and the others have to confront Simon and we shot that really early on and it was so cold outside. It’s a big scene, a pinnacle in the story and we had to play completely opposite to how we were all feeling. Just freezing!”
There are some more experienced actors in the cast too, Jennifer Garner, Josh Duhamel, were they good to work alongside?
Nick: “They were great actors and great people. This project seems to have attracted open, kind and compassionate people and I think that’s a credit to the story and the script. Their scenes with Simon towards the end of the film are a great template for any parents. They did a great job of showing that even in the best of circumstances it’s a difficult conversation. Simon has the best of so much, a great life, but he still has to announce who he is and none of his peers do.”