Thank you to Angela Camacho from Queen Bee Latina for today’s guest post.
Last week I screened and interviewed the wonderful cast of LOVE, SIMON and I was not prepared for the emotional journey that I would experience while watching this film. As a mother, it gave me a glimpse into the life and struggles of a teen who is conflicted with his identity. LOVE, SIMON is an inspirational story that moved me in many ways.
The teen years can be complicated, and being different can make it more stressful. Teens seek acceptance and approval from their peers, and the social pressures can be overwhelming. LOVE, SIMON is a movie that can help families start the conversations that can sometimes be difficult to have.
Hear what the cast of LOVE, SIMON had to say below!
Thank you Twentieth Century Fox for inviting me to screen and interview the cast of Love, Simon. All opinions are my own.
Seventeen year old Simon Spier faces some of the same challenges of most teens his age. And yet, he is also struggling to come out and has yet to tell his family about who he really is. This heartfelt, coming-of-age story is hilarious, complicated, terrifying, and ultimately life-changing. The film is based on Becky Albertalli’s novel of the same name and details the thrills of finding yourself and falling in love. I cried, laughed uncontrollably, and felt that I could relate to some of the family moments while screening this film. This unconventional love story is about family, friendship, and acceptance.
Jennifer Garner, Josh Duhamel and Nick Robinson Talk LOVE, SIMON
Moderator: When each of you got this script, was there a particular scene that leapt out at you that said, gosh, I really want to play that scene, or I have a thought about how this will go that made you want to do this?
Nick Robinson: I think there were several scenes. All of the sequences of coming out. The first coming out scene between Alex and I, I thought was handled really delicately and kind of beautifully and not too heavy-handed. And it was hard to get that from the script, but after talking to Greg [Berlanti, director] I felt confident that he would be able to kind of bring the delicacy that it needed.
And then also the scenes between Josh and Jen, just because they were so beautifully written and I felt like kind of necessary for this whole journey that this Simon character goes on. So, those were both exciting for me, and the dance sequence, obviously, because, I mean–.
Jennifer Garner: I thought the scene between Emily and her son is just like a template for how moms could handle a moment like this. And selfishly, I really wanted to be the one to say it.
And I was talking to a friend of mine as I was trying to decide do I try to do this? Is this movie going to work? And he said, you know, this movie would have been really helpful for me when I was growing up. This would have been a big deal for me. And I just said, okay, I’m in. I’m doing it. You’ve got it.
Josh Duhamel: Well, that’s easy. It was the scene with Nick and I in the driveway. I mean, there’s several reasons I wanted to do the movie, but if you’re going to ask me which scene, it’s that one, because I think that this character represents maybe a lot of fathers out there who have found out that their sons were gay, or their daughters.
He wasn’t necessarily homophobic, but he was, like you said, tone deaf to a lot of things, and probably wasn’t as tuned in as he should have been, and learns through the reveal that, you know what? It doesn’t matter. I love you no matter what. And I think that there’s something really powerful in that.
Moderator: Now, all three of you have been in high school movies, have played young people, are playing young people. Now you two are playing the parents and not the protagonist in this one. But seriously, as people have been in his spot and who have played, you know, in youth movies and now playing parents, do you bring something special, some special insight? And what makes this different from maybe the generation of youth movies that you were auditioning for or working in?
Josh Duhamel: Well, for me it was many things. Greg Berlanti is one of my favorite people in the world. I did a movie with him several years ago called Life as We Know It, and we’ve remained friends ever since. I felt that it had this–and especially after seeing it, it had, like, this John Hughes sort of–coming of age sort of feel to it, which I loved. And I loved the–after seeing it, I love the music in the movie.
Jennifer Garner: That’s so important, right? In a movie, if you’re trying to reach a younger audience, the joie de vivre, the music, the just overall energy of it, and Greg really–he really– understands that. And it doesn’t matter whether you’re playing the parents or whether you’re playing the protagonist. You still have to kind of bring that energy into a movie like this. And it was fun to do.
Moderator: Who were you guys in high school? Do you see yourselves in these characters? Or who do you think you would be if we were looking at this film and saying that’s Jen Garner in high school?
Nick Robinson: I don’t think anyone in high school has actually, like, found the best version of themselves. But I felt like I was kind of the guy who could go from group to group and kind of get along, you know, just get by. I don’t know if I’d, like, classify any particular, you know, clique that I fell into, but just–you know, just average guy–.
Josh Duhamel: I was–like Nick, I was the guy who tried to, you know, be as available to or accepting or friendly to everybody. I really did.
Jennifer Garner: I don’t think I even rated a character in this movie. I mean, I was happy. I didn’t think about the fact that because I was in West Virginia. I don’t know. Either we didn’t pay attention or I didn’t pay attention to popular cliques or anything like that. You know, I played the saxophone and I danced every day after school and I babysat a lot.
Moderator: Well, if there’s one message from this movie, it’s that it will be okay and you will survive it. And it’s nice to see you guys represent such real characters who deal with real problems so positively and without making it heavy drama. I loved it.
Press: I’m going to put you on the spot a little bit to say that–I’m Rick Kahn [sp] from Black Hollywood Live, and I wanted to know if–like, what’s your takeaway from working with Josh and Jennifer? Because, like, they’ve had, like, a long career, and when they stared out headshots were black and white.
Nick Robinson: My main takeaway was that these guys are professionals and that they show up every day. It really was like the perfect casting, I think, because it was the coolest parents you know, and that’s these two. And it was like they really understood what Simon was going through. And it showed too, like, even when you have the best possible upbringing, best possible scenario, this journey that Simon goes on of coming out is still difficult. It’s still hard even when you have the best case scenario. So, I thought that it was great.
Press: How has this movie impacted, changed, or reinforced your way of being if one day one of your kids tells you that they’re gay?
Josh Duhamel: I guess it did make me think about how I would react. I truly just want my kid to be happy and be passionate about whatever it is that he loves. And if he happened–if he–if that–if he came out as he was gay, so be it, you know, if that makes him happy. I truly believe that that’s what it would be.
And it’s–maybe it’s because I’ve–you know, I waited a while before I became a parent. I’ve seen a lot. I have a lot of gay friends. And so, it doesn’t–I don’t really–I really don’t care. I just want him to be–I just want everybody to live–be their highest self, you know? And if that’s what it is, that’s what it is. It really doesn’t bother me.
Jennifer Garner: But also, our kids are growing up in such a different time where–my kids are growing up saying, oh, some day when I get married, I don’t know if I’ll marry a man or a woman. They really–that door is open in a way that it never has been. And they really do know, oh, this is so and so and this is his husband, and this is so and so and this is her wife. And that has completely been normalized for–at least for my kids and hopefully will be for this whole next generation.
So, I think it would be a conversation that, you know, if–that somebody would be part of–hopefully me, but, you know, somebody in their lives would be a part of from a much earlier stage so that it wouldn’t be as involved with, like, the teen angst at the same time. But I certainly–you know, my kids would know that I’d be super gung-ho, awesome, let’s do it.
Press: Yes. And growing up as an artsy girl, that movie spoke to so many girls and guys that I know. Do you kind of hope this has the same effect to today’s youth?
Jennifer Garner: Heck, yes. I mean, wouldn’t that be amazing if we hit today’s youth like a John Hughes movie? What could possibly be a higher compliment to Greg? And certainly we would all feel the kind of reflected glory of that.
Press: You did such a good job with this and the whole–I was just wondering if you had read the book, and how much of Simon you feel is a part of you.
Nick Robinson: I have read the book. I read the script first, though. I was first introduced to the story through Greg, who had this script that he was kind of championing. And it was afterwards that I met Becky (author) and I read the book.
And I think that everyone, myself included, can relate to Simon and his sort of journey in just trying to find yourself and come to terms with yourself in a way that feels comfortable to not just you, but all the people around you as well. And I feel that Simon, his journey, for a lot of it is about him sort of tamping himself down, which I think people can relate to.
It’s like, you know, what kind of person are you when you’re constantly trying to please other people and, like, tamp down your own personality? And I think that that’s kind of something that, you know, the film deals with really beautifully. And it’s something that I can totally relate to with Simon as well, just being in that position of trying to–just trying to keep all these balls in the air and just get through it. So, yes, I think–does that answer your question? I think it does.
Press: What word of advice or what is it that you want–people who are struggling to come out, what would you tell them?
Nick Robinson: I think exactly like you said, take your power back. And, I mean, it’s different for everyone, I think. But it’s–just be bold, be strong and loud, and be happy with what you–you know, be confident in what you’re trying to say. And yes, just dance some to Whitney Houston. I don’t know, just–.
Press: So, where did you have to go to help us follow your characters? How did you get to the emotional depths? Could you share with us maybe some personal insight because we all go through trials and tribulations? So, could you share maybe a little bit for each of you to tell us, you know, maybe something that helped you strike a chord with all of us in the audience?
Josh Duhamel: Well, Greg gives you room to play and to find, you know, whatever it is. And that’s what was really fun about a lot of the stuff that we did.
In particular, like I said before, the scene that I really wanted to do this movie for was the scene with he and I. And I think it was what–how did I get there? I truly thought about my boy. And if this were to happen, if he were to tell me this, how would that affect me? And it just took me to, like, a really emotional place, just because that–truly, no matter what, you love your kid no matter what. And I think that that helped me get to that spot.
Nick made it very easy. He’s a very talented dude and was very available. And, you know, it’s not easy doing scenes like that. But, you know, as long as you feel safe to go there and to just tell the truth as honestly as you can, that’s what you hope for. And I guess that’s what helped me get there.
Jennifer Garner: Well, for me, honestly, I was thinking about so many friends of mine and thinking, oh, I wish I could go back for them and say this to them. I wish that I could have–you know, I wish–there have been a couple of friends, especially when I was younger, who came out to me. And I think, God, please let me have had a moment of wisdom when I was there for that moment. I hope that I did. But, yes, I was just so filled with love for the whole experience of it.
Press: So, a lot of the movie deals with, you know, having a secret and not really knowing how to express it and tell everyone, you know, what that secret is. Is there a point in your life where you have either gone through, like, either had a secret and didn’t know how to tell someone, or a transitional phase and it was really rough, and how did you get through it?
Nick Robinson: I think everyone has secrets and it’s sort of–like, they’re just a weight that you can carry around. And the more you talk about it, the better it gets.
Yes, it’s very personal for everyone, I think, this idea of, like, coming out with your secrets and coming out and sort of letting the air in. And I don’t know if there’s a right answer, really, for anyone. I think it’s a very–.
Josh Duhamel: I think you’re right, too. I mean, the more you shine a light on whatever it is that scares you the most, the less scary it becomes. But, yes, I mean, I have family members that went through exactly what these guys–or what this family went through.
And I watched a very sort of old school dad and a very sort of accepting mother and how they dealt with it. And he just got married last year, and the dad could not stop crying he was so happy for his son, you know? So, I think that’s a good example of, again, it doesn’t matter as long as your kid feels happy, passionate about something.
Press: Do you guys have any perspective on how they were able to get it made and get the money and get the budget? Because it’s really the kind of movie that you might–the story that you would see in a very small niche, and this feels like a big mainstream movie.
Jennifer Garner: Well, Elizabeth Gabler at Fox 2000 was really brave to take this movie on. It’s not the kind of thing that has been made. I think the power of Greg is, you know, his success is definitely the motor behind it.
But I think the important thing is for people to go out and see it or it won’t happen again. So, we can live in a world of superheroes, and they’re awesome and there’s a place for it, or we can support the movies that we want to see more of. And, you know, I hope that this is one that people will, you know, go and sit in a theater and watch as a group and enjoy and celebrate.
Well, I want to leave on this note. It’s an important movie. It’s a moving movie. But more than anything, it’s a wildly entertaining and fun movie. And you should go out and see it and support it and tell other people to see it.
This heartwarming and funny film is a MUST-SEE! Go see it before everyone else in theaters March 16th!
Photos: Ben Rothstein