James Ponsoldt had a brilliant crop of young actors in his hands, actors who had been nominated for Golden Globes and Independent Spirit Awards. But when it came to get them to do turn on their talent in front of the camera, his direction was simple: be your 17-year-old self again.
Ponsoldt: "I really loved [Miles and Shailene] as actors before this movie—that was the big thing. I love Shailene in The Descendants. I love Miles in Rabbit Hole. I knew what they were capable of as actors. I loved their take on Sutter and Aimee, but I encouraged them to collaborate with me. I told them, 'Whatever strikes you as dishonest or could be better or more specific, even bits of dialogue that you feel more comfortable saying another way, tell me.'"
"The film was reimagined by everyone involved and how they came together. Shailene and Miles and all the other actors were on the same page about each scene, and then in it, it was just about trying to create an environment where we could just be free and play. Be spontaneous. If they’re walking and talking in a scene and someone walks into a tree branch, just respond to it. Just embrace what’s happening and just listen. I tried not to get in their way because they were figuring it out on their own, shaping it together."
Teller: "Shailene and I didn’t have any rehearsal or anything. We met and just talked about what felt right in the scenes. Athens is a nice little town. We filmed in the summer, so there were no classes going on really, so we just kind of got to hang out. We'd go hang out, walk around, get food, and go thrift-shopping."
"Shailene is certainly different than most 21-year-olds. She is different from a lot of actresses that I’ve met and that I've worked with. She is very comfortable in her own skin. It was the Golden Globes, where most actresses would just be so vain and glammed up—not that Shailene wasn’t dressed up, but she had toe shoes on underneath. I don’t know another actress who wouldn’t wear heels. You wear heels. But that's just who she is. She is very strong in her convictions. She could be talking to, like, Nylon magazine, but she'll spend the whole time talking about GMOs (genetically modified organisms) because thats what's important to her."
"Aimee Finnecky could've been your stereotypical nerd, but Shailene is so unique that she couldn't not make it her own."
Okeniyi: "When I first got out there, Brie Larson and I had one dinner together. Brie hit me up and was like, 'Hey what’s up? We are supposed to be boyfriend and girlfriend. We probably should go eat something.' And we went out and got sushi and hammed it up. Then we met up with Miles and Shailene and we went to this really cool seafood place. That was the only time we all met, but it was instant camaraderie."
"When everyone is really truly in love with the material, that is what happens. When people are just there clocking in and clocking out, it is not the same. All of them are just super affable people and it is hard not to like them. Yet their professional at the same time."
"And it was dope. Athens, Georgia's a college town. University of Georgia is the number one party school in America. They have rows and rows of bars, so Miles, James, and Mike Webber, the writer, and I just did a little pub crawl."