After seeing “The Spectacular Now,” it’s no surprise that stars Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley won the Special Jury Prize for Acting when the film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. The two star in a movie about a high school relationship, but their characters Sutter and Aimee resonate in a way that should connect especially well with adults.
“I think it’s because we are dealing with all this subject matter honestly,” Teller explains to Zap2it during an interview. “This is a point that everyone should be able to, or could relate to because it’s like the end of high school. Like, it deals with that world appropriately. I think you’re going to look in this in that our relationship is going to remind you of probably your first one that was really important and just kind of high school is coming to an end and what you deal with.”
He adds, “It should bring back a lot of feelings.”
But “The Spectacular Now” does more than just dredge up nostalgia for high school years. It also deals openly with issues of alcoholism and familial relations in a way different from how movies about the teenage experience usually do. It’s no surprise that director James Ponsoldt‘s previous movie was “Smashed,” a film about what happens when one half of an alcoholic couple decides to get sober. Woodley agrees that the way Ponsoldt treats the subject of alcohol in “The Spectacular Now” helps set it apart from other similar movies.
“The whole drinking thing I think is dealt so phenomenally in this film because in a lot of movies it’s either a character and it’s exaggerated or they sort of pretend that it doesn’t exist,” she says. “It does exist, but it’s not something that teenagers exploit in high school. It’s just something that’s there, and when you’re bored and when you grow up in a small town like both of us did, it just exists.”
Woodley continues, “Relating that sort of back to my high school experience was really cool, and I just thought that the way that it was written and the way that James decided to portray it and chose to sort of ignore it and put it on the sidelines was really smart.”
In addition to “The Spectacular Now,” Woodley and Teller are starring together in the upcoming “Divergent.” Instead of playing romantic leads in that film, they play enemies in the Dauntless faction — or at least that’s what we thought.
“As an actor, I feel very comfortable with Shailene because I know that when we do a scene together it’s both of us trying to do the best scene possible, and I’m not going to try and direct her and vice versa,” Teller explains of their working relationship. “But in [‘The Spectacular Now’] I knew that we were kind of in love and then we fall out of love maybe, and then in ‘Divergent’ I know that I don’t really like her so much — but maybe there’s something deeper there. Maybe I’m secretly in love with her.”
He jokes that sometimes his directors have directed him to “be mad at [Woodley] and beat her up,” to which he responds, “Okay.” We noted that he roughs her characters up a bit in both “Divergent” and “The Spectacular Now,” to which Woodley says she makes up for it by *”Divergent” spoiler alert* shooting his character in “Divergent.” Just don’t expect Teller or Woodley to be throwing up any spoiler alert warnings when they talk about the project.
“It’s not a spoiler. It’s in the book,” Woodley argues. Teller agrees, “Like five million people know what happen.”
He says of his stance on spoilers, “I just think this ‘spoiler alert’ thing is just such a buzz now. Yeah, if you don’t want to see that — if I don’t want to know the score of a baseball game, I don’t watch ESPN. You know, you just avoid those things.” For Woodley, that means avoiding ice-skating and pole-vaulting scores as often as possible. (Yes, she is kidding.)
“The Spectacular Now” is in theaters today. “Divergent” is due out on March 21, 2014.