Adapted from James Franco’s book of stories by the same name, this month’s Palo Alto is a portrait of suburban teen malaise. First-time director Gia Coppola and leading lady Emma Roberts tell us what it was like to revisit those angsty days.
Marie Claire: Gia, can you start by telling me how this film came to be, and how Emma got involved?
Gia Coppola: I met James, and he had his book of stories, and was looking for someone else to direct it. When I showed him my photography, I guess he thought I was the right fit. I’ve never really directed anything, only short films with my friends, but he believed in me. The casting: Emma just kind of kept popping into my life.
Emma Roberts: We just kept running into each other non-stop.
GC: I always say something was cosmically pushing us together. She was coming up in conversation, and she loved the book and the script, so it was really a good fit.
MC: Emma, had you read the book already when you heard it was being made into a movie?
ER: I bought it at Book Soup in L.A. the day it came out. I’m a big James Franco [fan] and I love to read. When I heard that they were making it into a movie, and that he was also going to be part of it, and Gia was, I thought that was interesting. I thought it was a really special, cool project.
MC: Emma, you play April, a high school senior who is simultaneously infatuated with her soccer coach (James Framco) and her classmate (Jack Kilmer). Were there elements of that character that you both related to?
ER: I remember when you’re a teenager and you’re right in the thick of it. Like, what does it all mean? Everything is the end of the world. It’s just a crazy time; once you get out of it you’re like, there’s something nice about that time.
Emma attended Fendi and Elle Toast Coveteur Feature on Elizabeth Stewart on May 1st in LA. Emma was spotted running errands on April 30th and then grocery shopping at Bristol Farms on May 1st. Added new Instagrams! Check out photos below! Click on “read rest of this entry” for Emma’s hair dresser for the Fendi event talking about her hairstyle…
Emma Roberts is hunched over her coral iPhone, which looks like it has been run over by a monster truck and is being held together with tape. She’s tweeting with fans. Questions from around the world are shooting over like flares. “Do you like pickles?” asks a follower, which makes the 23-year-old actress laugh before she scrolls past. (She later pulls out her dog-eared copy of Ask the Dust to check the title before answering a very excited British girl’s query of what she’s reading.)
We are in Los Angeles and have spent the day shooting ELLE Canada’s first live cover. The excitement that comes with doing something experimental is still crackling in the air. It’s fitting that we’re forging into the digital future with Roberts—niece of Julia—because she might just be the ultimate embodiment of modern Hollywood: She’s outspoken, fiercely stylish, glued to her social media, friends with fellow former child star Miley Cyrus and, above all, surprisingly talented.
Born in New York to notoriously stormy actor Eric Roberts and his then girlfriend Kelly Cunningham, Roberts cut her acting teeth on projects like Nickelodeon’s Unfabulous in 2004 and Nancy Drew before branching out to flicks like We’re the Millers and American Horror Story (AHS). In fact, she has done a lot of growing up over the past few years. She fell for AHS co-star Evan Peters and then, last year in Montreal, had a fight with him that led to the actress being arrested on suspicion of assault. (She was released without charge the next day.) When asked about the incident, she merely shakes her head, unwilling, or unable, to talk about it.
Roberts’ rocky entry into adulthood makes her performance in Palo Alto especially moving. In the film, based on James Franco’s book of the same title, the actress plays a teen who is confused about what she wants and what it means to grow up. Her character, April, is caught up in an affair with her much older soccer coach, played by Franco. “You’re young,” he says to her in the film. “You don’t know why you do things.”
Photoshoots >> 2014 >> Max Abadian
Emma was spotted grabbing some lunch with Evan Peters in Hollywood yesterday (April 29) then later that night leaving Chateau Marmont, which she was seen at the same restaurant on April 26th. I have added a photoshoot from 2013 photographed by Don Flood!
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.”