The post-“Harry Potter” education of Emma Watson began, in a way, at Brown University. Searching for her first film after completing the boy-wizard franchise, the Ivy League actress found some unlikely career advisors in the form of her fellow college students, who told her that she simply had to sign up for “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” an adaptation of Stephen Chbosky’s seminal novel.
“Honestly, I had never read the book before, but a lot of my friends at Brown were hugely into it, and when I told them I had this script, they were crazy excited,” Watson told MTV News.
And just that like, through the pop-culture schooling of her peers, she’d found a flick to carry her away from Hogwarts and toward a Hollywood second act. It’s fitting, then, that with “Perks” on her résumé, we’ve selected Watson as a member of MTV News’ New Class — actors and actresses about to graduate toward greatness. The 21-year-old finds herself in good company on the movie, whose cast contains so many soon-to-break-big talents that we selected a bunch of her co-stars as her New Class cohorts.
We’ve dubbed Watson “Most Likely to Win an Oscar.” Nina Dobrev (“The Vampire Diaries”) is our Next Style Icon. Logan Lerman (“Percy Jackson & the Olympians” and the upcoming “Three Musketeers”) is Most Likely to Make You Swoon, and Ezra Miller (Sundance eye-opener “Another Happy Day” and Cannes selectee “We Need to Talk About Kevin”) is Most Likely to Win an Independent Spirit Award. Together they’re bringing a beloved teen novel to the screen. And when we visited the film’s Pittsburgh set earlier this year, all four of them were well aware of the expectations surrounding the project and professed themselves lucky to be involved.
“I feel incredible about it. I feel like I’ve been waiting for ‘Perks,’ ” Watson said. “I was waiting for this story, for this script, for this moment, for these people to do it with me. I’m so glad I didn’t do anything that I didn’t care about.”
Watson plays Sam, a high school senior who, along with Miller’s Patrick, introduces Lerman’s freshman Charlie to a world of sex, drugs and awkward adolescence. “I definitely tapped into some awkward childhood memories for this movie,” Lerman explained. “It’s been a year and a half since I first signed on to the project, so to be out here making it is a pretty big deal for me. It’s cool to be working with this great cast of young actors.”
Dobrev, on a break from “Vampire Diaries,” echoed those sentiments. “Every hiatus, my goal is to try something different, and this is a small part in a great, fun indie that has a great script,” she said of playing Charlie’s sister. “It’s been fun to meet such great new people. Everyone really gets along and is really friendly and fun.”
Their subject matter, it should be said, is not all fun or funny. When when we showed up on set the stars were filming a raucous school-dance sequence set to “Come on Eileen,” but “Perks” takes on potentially controversial material about suicide, drug use and sexuality. These may be divisive topics to some, but ask any teen and he or she will say it’s all part of their world.
“I don’t think there will be one teenager who will watch this and not have one story or one moment that they don’t deeply feel they can relate to,” Watson said.