Ashby stars Mickey Rourke and Nat Wolff with Emma having a supporting role. Awkward Ed Wallis (Nat Wolff) needs help fitting in and turns to his neighbor Ashby Holt (Mickey Rourke) for help. Ashby’s unforgiving brand of tough love soon tests their friendship, and it hardly helps when Ed learns that Ashby is a former CIA assassin. The film will make its debut at the Tribeca film festival in New York in April so hopefully soon will see a theatrical release (most likely limited).
More Info | Photos
To hear the cast tell it, the set of Palo Alto, Gia Coppola’s feature directorial debut, was one big youthquake. “It was a kids’ club; all of us were under the age of 30,” says Emma Roberts. “We all were really young and so passionate about the project, and we all really just came together.” In theaters May 9, the film “is a solid voice in a generation of pit vipers,” declares Keegan Allen. Nat Wolff agrees. “I don’t think there’s anything that’s false [about Palo Alto]. It came from a really real place.”
Coppola (niece of Sofia and granddaughter of one Francis Ford) adapted the screenplay from James Franco’s book of short stories. Centering on a group of wayward suburban high schoolers, the highly stylized film has a dreamy, lo-fi quality balanced with refreshingly awkward dialogue delivered, in many cases, by actual teenagers. Its emotional honesty — due in large part to the closeness between the young cast and their 27-year-old director — strikes a similar nerve to Larry Clark’s Kids and grandpa Coppola’s The Outsiders. “Gia and I are both women so close in age and we really understood each other,” says Roberts, who has known Coppola for years from growing up in L.A. “That’s part of the reason she cast me in the movie. We just had an understanding of working together.”
Coppola is at the helm of a crew of kids, all at varying points in their rising careers, who represent Hollywood’s new generation. Roberts and Allen star in hit TV shows (American Horror Story and Pretty Little Liars, respectively) and Wolff is starring in this summer’s romantic drama The Fault in our Stars. “She just found these great, great young actors,” says Franco. “And not only great choices because they were good actors and right for the parts, but a lot of them were doing it for the first time.” Such is the case of Jack Kilmer (Val Kilmer’s 18-year-old son), who has known Coppola “pretty much my whole life, or since I can remember.” As Teddy, a quiet, well-intentioned dreamboat with a penchant for bad decisions, Kilmer’s gentle intensity and skater-boy style are sure to launch a thousand Tumblrs. “He just has something that is very captivating about him,” says Coppola. “The way he goes through the world is interesting, and he’s a real teenager.”
“A lot of the stupid shit I did in my own teenage life in high school I also did in the movie,” says Kilmer. “Filming helped me grow up a bit.”
A casual scroll through Coppola’s Tumblr and Instagram unearths many photos of the cast; clearly, their intensive month-long shoot resulted in some serious bro-ing down. “[Jack and I] actually moved into Gia’s mom’s house together. We lived in the garage,” says Wolff, who plays Teddy’s hyperactive best friend Fred with a visceral energy teetering on the edge of disaster. “Jack had never acted before, and I’d never done any type of character like this before, so we were both nervous as hell, but we really did become best friends while making that movie.”
As the plot goes, Teddy is in love with the disenchanted April (Roberts), who’s in the midst of an affair with her high school soccer coach, Mr. B, played by Franco. The affair between 17-year-old April and the mid-30s Mr. B touches on a sore spot in our sexual consciousness (not unlike Franco’s recent Instagram slip-up), but for her part Coppola feels Franco’s character “doesn’t look at himself as a pedophile or whatever. I think he just can’t relate to women his own age, and so April is in his maturity level. In the 1800s men were married to women younger than that, so it’s just sort of carnal I guess.”
Oddly enough, we can partially thank Sylvester Stallone for the making of Palo Alto. As Franco, who is currently making his Broadway debut in Of Mice and Men, explains, “It was a little hard to get money because it was a pretty dark film and Gia was a first-time director — so I told my rep to find a movie that would pay me enough that I could just give it to Gia and get the movie made. I ended up doing a movie that I kind of enjoyed called Homefront, which was directed by Stallone.”
In addition to the blockbuster kick-start, Coppola was grateful to have Franco on hand for her first directing experience. “He was always available to me when I needed him and I really relied on that support,” she says. “I would text him images every day, and when he was on set it was really helpful because he’s a director too. It was really exciting to work with him in the capacity of directing him as an actor, and learning about that world, because I felt very comfortable with the photography and other elements of making a movie, but working with actors was really nerve-racking for me.”
Despite any anxiety Coppola may have felt, her cast knew they were in good hands. Allen, another friend of Coppola’s, with a memorable part as a drug dealer who’s thrown off by Fred’s erratic behavior, zeroes in on the director’s gift: “She just knows how to grab the awkwardness of human contact and make it a beautiful thing.” Franco echoes the sentiment. “What I love about Gia’s touch is that she took some really dark material about young people and she didn’t shy away from the darkness, but she made it hopeful. She gave some of the kids a way out.”
The kids, as they say, are all right.
Your style is unique compared to other folks I’ve read stuff from.
Thank you for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I’ll just
bookmark this blog.
Do you mind if I quote a few of your articles as long
as I provide credit and sources back to your site? My website is
in the very same niche as yours and my visitors would definitely benefit from some of the information you
provide here. Please let me know if this okay with you. Thanks a lot!
Thanks for your marvelous posting! I quite enjoyed reading it, you may
be a great author. I will ensure that I bookmark your blog and will eventually
come back at some point. I want to encourage continue your
great work, have a nice weekend!
You are so awesome! I do not believe I have read anything like that before.
So wonderful to discover someone with original thoughts on this
issue. Seriously.. thank you for starting this up.
This web site is one thing that’s needed on the internet, someone with a little originality!
Sweet blog! I found it while searching on Yahoo News.
Do you have any tips on how to get listed in Yahoo News? I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there!