Sex, drugs & mix tapes

At 16 Charlie is just starting high school, but while the friendship and partying seems to come naturally to everyone else, he can't help feeling like he's always on the outside looking in. Sick of feeling so alone, he decides to see what life is like from the dance floor and after accidentally befriending the charming, loud-mouthed Patrick, he comes to realise that being an outsider doesn't always mean being alone.

But life isn't always that simple and after falling head over heels for Patrick's half-sister, Sam, what follows is Charlie's attempt to navigate the minefield of sex, drugs, first dates and mix tapes, while coming to terms with a dark secret of his own.

With the DVD of the Perks of Being A Wallflower out now, we phoned up author and the film's director, Stephen Chbosky, to talk teen angst, sequels, making movies and of course what it was like working with Emma Watson, Logan Lerman and Ezra Miller...

perks of being a wallfower

To get straight in there, making a movie out of your book and being so involved with the process must have been a dream come true. How did you feel when you got the call that it was all going ahead?

It really didn’t happen like that. It all started with Emma Watson, who had lots of meetings with heads to studios here in Hollywood. She was our champion, she really wanted to make it happen and it all started with her.

So you’d seen Emma as someone to play Sam from the beginning?

Yes definitely. It was when I saw her in Harry Potter and the Halfblood Prince actually. It was the scene where she was with Harry outside the common room and she’s crying and it just broke my heart in that scene. I just thought she was fantastic and I noticed that every time I saw her in a movie, she just got better and better, and that was the first clue.

What brought it home to me was when I met her in New York in person, and I realised that I was fundamentally interested in this girl and she was fundamentally interested in me and my project. I knew how much she had to prove to herself beyond Hermione, that she could do all these other things and I knew that she needed to believe it, that she had the confidence to do it and I just had it. Watching her, I just knew.

Was it a similar feeling with Logan and Ezra or did they come along a lot later in the process?

With Logan and Ezra it was slightly different because they both auditioned whereas Emma didn’t, but I still had a feeling about them when I cast them.

Do you think it was something you could have ever trusted anybody else to direct?

I don’t think I could have, it was something I wanted to do myself. I was either going to direct the movie or it just wasn’t going to happen. The book was doing fine and I just didn’t feel it had to be done and I couldn’t let down the fans. Some things aren’t worth it and I had a very particular idea of how it should be.

So going right back to when you sat down and started writing, where did the story begin?

It was a combination of ideas I’d had really. I’d thought about writing the book for a long time and these images came to me over the years – the tunnel and the friendships and the songs. Parallel to this, I thought of this idea that I called ‘Letters to a friend’ and I was going to write a novel from the point of view of a young person and it was going to involve someone finding them in a phonebook in 20 years. So one day, after a break up, I just sat down and put the ideas together because I realised that Charlie was the boy writing these letters and in one moment, the ideas came together and I never looked back!

One thing we did notice about the film is that the tunnel song is different to the one in the book! Why did that happen?

You’re right, we did change it. Well, when it came to actually flying through the tunnel, when you saw it, Landslide just wasn’t energetic enough. To me, this is a triumphant moment, not a sad, somber one.

Did you try it with Landslide first?

We tried it with a lot of songs, but to me Heroes was just perfect. It’s so terrific, so cathartic when Emma is up there flying in the truck. It just seemed to fit.

The music is clearly such a big theme in the book and Emma said that during filming she and Ezra formed a band with Logan, and he wrote them songs. Did you get to hear them?

I did. well, I heard them a little bit. I actually joined them a bit as I play guitar and I sing a little bit, so there was one time we all got together and played. Logan plays the piano, Emma sings and they let me join in, they were really living it being together. I mean, these guys, these young actors have so much pressure on them and on their lives. I can’t imagine being 12 years old and having a multi-million dollar production weighing on my shoulders so this was a chance to cut loose.

Click NEXT for more to find out what Stephen has to say about the possibility of a sequel >>