It’s not often an actress can convincingly play a passive aggressive protagonist, who is used to always being given what she wants, but can also elicit empathy and understanding from the audience. But Charlize Theron does exactly that in the new comedy-drama ‘Young Adult,’ which is now playing in select theaters and opens wide on December 16, 2011. At the film’s New York City red carpet premiere on December 8 at the Ziegfeld Theater, several of the Academy Award-winning actress’ co-stars from the film readily praised her ease at playing such an emotionally immature character.
‘Young Adult,’ which was directed and produced by Jason Reitman, follows Theron’s Mavis Gary as she quickly travels home to her small town of Mercury, Minnesota, after hearing her ex-boyfriend recently had a baby with his wife. Having emotionally peaked in high school, when she was the ultimate popular girl who everyone admired and felt could do no wrong, Mavis feels unfulfilled as a ghostwriter of a formerly popular teen series. She feels she can win back her high school sweetheart, Buddy Slade (played by Patrick Wilson), even though he’s happily married to Beth (portrayed by Elizabeth Reaser) with their new daughter.
While back in Mercury, Mavis surprisingly reconnects with another former classmate, Matt Freehauf (played by Patton Oswalt). Even though he admired her in high school, and she barely remembers him, Matt is the only person in Mercury who has the courage to call Mavis out on the immoral acts she engages in.
Even though Mavis is presented as an unhappy, emotionally immature woman who’s suffering a mid-life crisis, Theron’s co-stars adamantly denied Theron was anything like her passive aggressive mean character. Actor Brian McElhaney, who was one of the first to arrive on the red carpet, fondly recalled his time filming with Theron.
“I play the book associate Mavis meets in Mercury, and is rude to when he says her series is going to be sent back to the publisher because the books aren’t selling,” McElhaney said. The actor shot his scene on location in Upstate New York, and recalled Theron was very comfortable and approachable on the set. He added that they found it amusing how the books were created. “The books were actually fake, the entire series. We laughed that these fake covers were put on other books, and when we opened them up, they were something completely different.”
Another cast member who attended the red carpet premiere was actress Louisa Krause, who portrayed the front desk girl at the hotel Mavis checked into when she arrived back in Mercury. While her character was just as condescending and aloof as Mavis, Krause graciously took the time to describe the memorable experience she had on the set with Theron.
“I only spent one day on the set, in Upstate New York, but I had fun. I’ve watched Charlize since I was a kid, and it was an honor to work with her,” Krause said. While she didn’t have time to spend with her idol while filming, she smiled when she recalled how they had lunch on set together. “Our lunch was catered that day, and we all grabbed the sandwiches off the tray as they were brought in.”
For ‘Young Adult,’ Krause said she “auditioned a few times with the casting directors, Jessica Kelly and Suzanne Smith, before I met with Jason.” But she added that filming the comedy drama was a completely different experience than her upcoming title role in the 2012 comedy ‘King Kelly.’ “The front desk girl, and how Mavis interacted with her, helped show the transformation of the main character from the beginning, when she first checked, to the end, when she checked out. In ‘King Kelly,’ my character transformed herself,” Krause also said.
Reaser, one of the more well-known actresses in the film, was just as excited to praise Theron as the memorable supporting cast members. While the ‘Breaking Dawn: Part I’ actress said Theron would stay in character at times to better connect with her, her serious acting method didn’t interfere with her ability to bond with her co-stars.
Reaser added that one of the funniest, noteworthy scenes she shot with Theron was when Beth accidentally spilled wine on Mavis during her daughter’s name ceremony. “Charlize was upset that I had to throw the drink on her so many times. Even though it was actually juice, and it was supposed to land on her clothes, some landed on her face as well,” Reaser said, trying not to laugh at Theron’s distress.
Like Reaseer said, many viewers won’t feel threatened by Mavis’ destructive behaviors, as the main person she’s hurting is herself. Like Matt, audiences will sympathize with her plight to better herself, both professionally and personally. While Theron won her Oscar for playing a serial killer in ‘Monster,’ Mavis will resonate with people who feel they’ve already reached their full potential, and would do anything to get back to it.
Written by: Karen Benardello