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Shailene Woodley On Realism of ‘The Spectacular Now,’ Teenage Drinking, and Her First Sex Scene

January 23, 2013
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Shailene Woodley, nominated for a Golden Globe for The Descendants, and star of the eagerly anticipated adaptation of Divergent by Veronica Roth, stars as Aimee in the 2013 Sundance hit titled The Spectacular Now. The film is based on the novel by Tim Tharp, about high-school senior class clown (Miles Teller) who falls for the shy girl from a completely different crowd (Woodley). The film has been getting rave reviews at Sundance, and was one of the first films from the festival to be picked up for distribution. People have been saying this movie is a breakout performance for Woodley and Teller, also mentioning the amazing chemistry between the two actors. IndieWire reports that the film was picked up by A24 and will most likely hit theaters this summer. The site spoke to Woodley about the realism of the film, the underage drinking, and her first sex scene (which also happens to be her favorite scene in the movie).

In many ways the film is the antithesis to shows like “The Secret Life of the American Teenager.”

“The Secret Life of the American Teenager” “Secret Life” and “Spectacular Now” couldn’t be any more different. “Secret Life” wasn’t realistic at all. I think the themes at the core had a lot of truth to them, but the way in which they were presented was not realistic or truthful. Like I said, “Spectacular Now” was a really human piece. We got to explore and really get inside these kids’ minds. I love that they weren’t dumbed down. Teenagers are extremely smart!

Circling back to “Spectacular,” the film deals with teen drinking in a refreshingly frank way. Did you drink during that stage in your life?

Alcohol is a big part of high school. I went through my little phase. I don’t know one high schooler that doesn’t. This movie isn’t about alcoholism. If any other director had taken it on, I think it maybe would have been a bigger part of it. I think it explores more the emotional turmoil that teenagers go through and the trials and tribulations of trying to figure out who you are. Miles’ character is not drinking, clearly, because he’s an alcoholic. He’s drinking because he doesn’t really know any other way to have fun and to enjoy life. That can be a budding addiction, but I think at this point it’s really just exploring the truth of what it’s like to be in high school and what you do in high school. It doesn’t glamorize the drinking.

Was that your first sex scene on film?

It was, yeah. I’m proud of it! It’s my favorite scene in the movie (laughs). When I sat down with James before I even agreed to do the movie, I asked him about that scene and he said, “I want to make that scene so beautiful and so romantic and so lovely, and I want it to be so real, that when people leave the movie I want them to say: ‘I’ve never seen a sex scene with teenagers that real in my entire life.’” Him saying that as well as many other things is what convinced me to do the film. But it was so beautifully done. I love the fact that we were able to giggle. And I love the fact that we were able to laugh at ourselves and just have these sweet moments and painful moments. When I look at it, I don’t see myself having sex. I see this character. It makes me smile because I think even if that wasn’t everyone’s experience, there’s something so charming and so lovely about being in that sacred space together at such a young age.

Read more of the interview at IndieWire!



Kimmy is a 21 year old nerdfighter who is the founder and editor-in-chief of Page to Premiere. When she's not writing about books and movies here or on her Hunger Games site called Mockingjay.net, she loves Tumblr-ing, eating sushi, drinking Thai iced tea, and being lazy with her cat Rue! She hopes to be a published author one day. You can follow her on Twitter at @kimmymary.