For most people, the four (or more) years spent in high school are memorable times filled with parties, pranks and avoiding the wrath of the stuffy principal. For the characters in “Remember The Daze”, a coming of age tale in the vein of “Dazed And Confused”, one final day holds enough adventure to remember for a lifetime.
Writer/Director Jess Manafort artistically assembles the teenage chaos surrounding the celebration of the last day of school in a small town. The film’s young, up and coming ensemble cast depicts the troubling reality of teen life as the characters struggle with the ambiguities of their futures while coping with mental disorders, dysfunctional families and homosexuality.
Kegs of beer, hallucinogenic mushrooms and bongs full of pot gather a group of townies to celebrate the advent of summer. Tori (Leighton Meester, “Gossip Girl”) is torn between being her usual self, a responsible babysitter, and experimenting with hallucinogenic mushrooms with her best friend while babysitting.
Holly (Alexa Vega, Spy Kids) has just been promoted from the eighth grade and desperately wants to appear like she is a full-fledged high school student by driving around in her mom’s station wagon and plotting to hook up with guys.
Lucy (Amber Heard, Pineapple Express) is disillusioned with her clique’s usual banter and her depressed boyfriend, who flunked too many classes to graduate on time, and is dreaming of an answer to her boredom and frustration.
Brianne (Melonie Diaz, Be kind Rewind) and Dawn’s (Lyndsy Fonseca, “Desperate Housewives”) relationship is suddenly changed since they have become romantically involved with each other after being best friends for years.
Will the teens gain clarity on how to solve life’s problems or will their night be lost in a drunken, drug induced daze?
For more info about “Remember The Daze,” including video interviews with the cast, a “making-of” video and more, visit the film’s official site at www.TheBeautifulOrdinary.com. The DVD hit store shelves on June 3, 2008.
Chris Marquette, who played his first big comedic role as the sexually-naïve Eli in 2004’s “The Girl Next Door,” took a few minutes to talk to M&C about playing Felix, the resident herb connoisseur of “Remember The Daze” as well as revealing some top secret information about one of his upcoming roles.
Chris will also be starring in the upcoming comedy “Fanboys,” which chronicles the epic journey of a handful of die-hard Star Wars fans who travel to creator George Lucas’ “Skywalker Ranch” to steal an early copy of “Episode One: The Phantom Menace.”
M&C: So tell me a little about the character of Felix. What’s his stance?
Marquette: They told me originally that if this movie was kind of like “Dazed and Confused”, then Felix is the Matthew McConaughey type. He’s the older guy that kinda creeps people out and nobody understands why he’s still around.
You know, why he doesn’t have a regular job and hangs out with high school kids. He still is hitting on the 17-year-olds that could put him in jail.
M&C: Does he have that same sort of strange wisdom?
Marquette: You know, I don’t think I give any real wisdom to any of the other characters, but I did want him to find some kind of redemption in the end, because he’s so socially awkward and socially unaware of how he presents himself to other people, especially his brother.
My brother Sean, who plays my younger brother in the movie, and I wanted to find some sort of sweet moment in there. A little brotherly love, you know? I think that sort of redeems my crazy character.
M&C: Was it awkward for you, with the whole “getting your brother into drugs” thing?
Marquette: Not really. I mean, if you watch Dazed and Confused, it’s just one big party that they were going for. They hand you some fake joints and say, “Here…tell him to sell the drugs in the school.” That’s all you have to do. It wasn’t difficult.
M&C: Were there any unusual dynamic working in such a large cast? How long did you spend filming?
Marquette: I was filming for about a month. It really was an unusual dynamic at time, because there wasn’t one person on that set that didn’t have a friend in the movie, I think. I’d say at least 80% of the people on the movie set knew at least one other person there, in the rest of the cast. When you’re playing characters that are not yourself, and that are completely not you, the dynamics can definitely change with people.
This person that you’ve known for years is all of the sudden acting funny, and other time it makes it really fun because you’ve known each other for so long that you know what the other person is trying to pull off. It’s nice to be in that sometimes. It can be bad sometimes, though. You can feel more disconnected, like “You’re doing your thing and I’m doing mine.”
M&C: Is it true that you didn’t graduate from high school? It’s kind of interesting that you play so many “high school” roles.
Marquette: Isn’t it? If someone asked me if I went to high school, I’d say, “Yes, but in no traditional way.” My high school experience has been on sets.
M&C: You were acting all of those years…
Marquette: Yeah, and I actually did a movie where I graduated from high school at exactly the same time that I actually would have graduated. So I consider that film to be my real graduation.
M&C: Nice. You were inserted into the cast…when? How close were they to production?
Marquette: They were right in the middle of production when I came onto the movie. The director (Jess Manafort) and my brother Sean were having a conversation over some wine one night, and my brother was like, “You know this character that I’m supposed to have all of these scenes with in the movie? My brother isn’t working right now. What if he did it?”
Then they could write the parts as two brothers instead of friends. I think they were going to use Nick Stahl for that part. I got a call from my brother at like 11:30 at night. He asked me if I was filming in two weeks, and I told him I wasn’t, so he asked me if I wanted to do the part. Without any hesitation I said yes. I flew down like a week later and read for the part. Sean and I just kind of made it up as we went along.
M&C: What was it like working with Manafort, her being such a young director?
Marquette: She was one of the crew. I think some of the best parts of the movie come from the fact that people feel so comfortable with one another in front of the cameras and with the characters. I don’t think that would’ve happened if it has been some older director who was just like “Try saying it this way,” or “Maybe you should do it like this.”
She really guided the whole process by being one of us, drinking a beer with us, relaxing. That’s one of the big parts to acting: getting relaxed into a role.
M&C: She didn’t have to recapture her youth for the film because she was living it.
Marquette: Yeah, and some of my good friends in this movie and other friends of ours, when we’re all fifty years old and our kids go “What was it like growing up in Hollywood and being an actor?”
We can stick this movie in the DVD player and tell them that this was my friends and me. This was us hanging out: jumping in the pool with our clothes on, riding around at 6 a.m. in the morning because the party still hasn’t stopped. That was us.
M&C: It must have been an explosion of energy with that many actors around.
Marquette: The first night I got there I had just come of a job that was really strict, with strict scheduling where I was going to bed at 10 p.m. and waking up at 7 a.m. and trudging out onto the set. And with this it was like, “What the…?” We’re all being paid to just to have a party.
M&C: Do you feel like the movie was successful in capturing the feel of the late nineties?
Marquette: The nineties are a hard time to really get down, but it was a time with tons of colors and unique clothing. I think it did.
M&C: Were all of the parts and the writing set in stone, or did you get to improvise?
Marquette: I pretty much made up all of it. I was really surprised that they kept this part in where I pull out a knife, and that was not scripted at all. None of the other actors knew, not even my brother. Well, maybe I whispered something to him right before. I pulled out my knife, which is my lucky one, and I remember everyone else being like, “Oh my god, who is this guy?”
That was really fun, but I’m surprised it made the cut. I think they left it out, and then I saw a cut of it and said, “Aww, you guys didn’t keep in the knife part!” and Jess Manafort specifically went back and put it in for me.
M&C: You’re big on ad-libbing?
Marquette: I am. If you’re fortunate enough to get a director who says, “Just try something that feels way off the chart.” That’s a lucky day for an actor. Sometimes it’s terrible, when you try to do it and nothing comes out. It’s good when the juice is flowing.
M&C: When did you find out you had a knack for comedic acting? Early on?
Marquette: No way, man. People always told me that I wasn’t funny, and I kept trying out for these comedies. People would literally hate it and I would get the worst feedback. My agents always thought of me as a serious actor and tried to keep me away from doing those auditions.
Then I did “The Girl Next Door,” and that was a really funny movie and the director loved me. That was my first real comedy role. Honestly, I still don’t get it. I’ve seen some of the comedies I’ve done, and I can laugh at some of the stuff. I don’t really think I’m that funny.
M&C: Are you hard on yourself when you watch that stuff again?
Marquette: Yeah. I haven’t really liked anything I’ve done since I was twelve years old. There was a movie that I did then that I love and cherished. I was so proud of it. I’ve done things since then that I’m proud of, but when I see my performance after the cutting room floor, it never really reaches that same level of expectation and happiness that I had when I was twelve.
M&C: What was the film?
Marquette: The Tic Code. I played a kid with Tourette’s Syndrome who wants to become a jazz pianist. It was really a pivotal role for me.
M&C: What’s up next for you?
Marquette: I’m filming “Race To Witch Mountain” right now. I’m going to be doing a movie right after that one is done. Actually, you’ll be the first person to hear this. I’m trying to think if I can actually say it. OK, I can. I’m going to be doing a film called “Kid Cannabis” based on this true story that was in a Rolling Stone article. It’s about this 19 year old kid who becomes a drug lord by smuggling drugs across the border between the U.S. and Canada.
M&C: A supporting role?
Marquette: The lead – I’ll be playing the guy – and I’m really excited about it. It goes into production in July of this year and should be out in 2009.
M&C: Well, thanks for the exclusive info!