Robbie Amell talks about his newest movie out this weekend, The Duff, with Schmoes Know.
Were you familiar with the original book before you read the script or were you familiar at all with the term “the DUFF”?
“No, I was in the same boat as you. I didn’t know there was a book, but I found out as I read the script. I had never heard the term, I thought maybe it was an American thing because I’m from Toronto, grew up in Canada and everybody’s polite and nobody would call anybody else the DUFF. But I guess, pretty much half the people I’ve talked to have heard about the term, and half the people haven’t, and the people that have read the book absolutely loved it. You know we had Kody Keplinger who wrote the book, and was a big part of the movie. It’s definitely different from the book because the book would be an R-rated movie, and I don’t think you can make the R-rated version of The DUFF, but the themes are still there and it’s still very much the same message getting across, we just do it in a little lighter air, but it’s still very, very funny.”
Were you surprised when you first heard what the “DUFF” stood for?
“I was! You know, at first I had the same reaction most people do and I was like, ‘Damn, that’s super mean.’ But you talk to Kody about it and she wrote the book, it’s really not about looks being the DUFF. You know, Tom Brady was the DUFF of his draft class, and now he’s biggest quarterback on the planet. That’s kind of the analogy I can use for dudes, if they want to get it. But it’s really more about, you know there’s always going to be someone better, faster, stronger, smarter, and it’s more about how all teens, or all people in general, at one time or another feel like the DUFF. They have a wavering confidence, or they’re just trying to figure out who they are and the nice thing is, that’s kind of timeless and everybody always goes through it. So those themes, it’s kind of like a John Hughes movie in that way, it’ll kind of transcend generations I think.”
Yeah, you know, the tone I got from the trailers was that it looked like 21 Jump Street meets 10 Things I Hate About You…
“Thanks! I’ll take that and both of those movies. Yeah, we got a lot of freedom while we were shooting which was nice because Mae (Whitman) and I, we both read the script and separate times, we didn’t even know the other person was involved, but we both kind of had the same idea. We said, ‘You know, the story’s great. It’s all there. But some of the dialogue feels a little dated, and it just needs to feel a little more natural. So they let us improvise all over the script, I’d say about half of the movie is improvised. Which makes it feel very natural and real.”
That’s interesting because you can definitely feel it in the trailer alone. I was wondering which moments were improvised and which were in the script.
“Yeah, about half the trailer is. You kind of need that in a teen comedy because not many screenwriters are under thirty years old, let alone forty years old. So you’re supposed to be writing dialogue for teenagers. I haven’t been a teenager for awhile, but I feel like, I still remember what it was like to be in high school and I think the biggest thing was when I was in high school, or when anyone is, you know you feel like you’re a lot older and you feel like an adult. So the last thing you want is to be talked down to or a cheesy version of somebody trying to talk cool, which is always an actor’s nightmare. So I think we just tried to make it feel as real as possible, while just having a lot of fun doing it. I think it shows onscreen.”
How quickly did the chemistry between you and Mae happen? Because it’s on fire in the film.
“Oh thanks, yeah we just got lucky, we became quick friends and we’re both pretty sarcastic and she’s so funny. It’s unbelievable. You’re kind of forced into a quick relationship and you know sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t and you know Mae and I got lucky. We became quick friends, we still hang out, I saw her two days ago and it just worked out great. We got to have a lot of fun and we were just comfortable around very quickly, which hopefully shows. I think it does. A lot of the response from most of the people who see the movie is A.) It feels very real and natural which is what we were going for and B.) a lot of people are like, ‘Your chemistry is great,’ which is pretty fun.”
For the full interview click HERE