Dianna Agron (interview)

Dianna Agron transcript for “I Am Number Four”/ Girlfriend magazine (AUS and NZ)

GF: Who are you playing in the film?

DA: I play Sarah. She’s at the high school that John’s joining. She used to be the popular girl at school but she realises that those things aren’t so important to her. She’s very passionate about photography. She’s very intrigued by John, and when he comes to school they form a fast friendship.

The character you fall in love with is an alien – was it different playing being in love with an alien vs a real guy?

Well, she doesn’t know at first. When she finds out it’s kind of irrelevant because they have this strong bond together. He acts like a normal kid. One of the things I love so much about this script is it very much feels like the outsiders coming together. Between John’s character and Callan [McAuliffe], who’s playing Sam, and Sarah’s newfound freedom with photography, it does remind you of Rebel Without A Cause. These are very young characters, cuz they’re in high school, but they have a lot of heart and spirit and integrity and wisdom.

So there’s no repulsion at John not being human?

No. It’s more like everything else, like who are we, do we really belong in high school  are we destined for bigger, greater things, what are those things, when can I leave this town, type of things. Those are overruling everything else until the very end.

How did you get this part?

I’m so lucky that this came full circle. I met Steven Spielberg in January (2010) around the whirlwind of award season which I felt very much like a fish out of water, being involved in. He said, ‘We have this project that we’ve been thinking of you for, but you’re unavailable’, and my manager goes, ‘Oh no, she’s available!’ [laughs] I read the script and I loved it. I felt this way in high school. I felt like there were a few things that really made me feel like Sarah could have very interchangeably been myself.

Like what?

I was big into photography in high school, and I didn’t really feel like I fit in. I loved my friends and I loved school, but at the same time I was so eager to move away and surround myself with everything I was passionate about. When young characters are written very smartly, it’s very attractive to an actor. Also, the female character isn’t this ‘girlfriend’ character. And of course, I was very hopeful I could do my own stunts. It’s looking like I’ll be able to do them, which I’m excited for.

What kind of stunts?

I get to do a very high fall, and be caught in some high speed chases, stuff like that. I don’t think I’ll be driving any cars or anything like that, but I’ll be involved in the process.

What’s it like working with Alex?

Alex is great! He’s very spirited, and he’s very wise beyond his years. That sounds somewhat silly for me to say because I’m only 4 years older than he is, but he’s European. I feel that the average European travels more and experiences more culturally. I think that’s what makes him so good for John, because he’s taking that part of himself and putting it into his character. It’s very hard for him because he’s English and he has to speak with an American accent. He has his work cut out for him, but he’s great, and it’s been a lot of fun.

You’re filming in Pittsburgh – what have you been up to in your downtime?

There’s just so many photo opportunities here! It’s so interesting, the lay of the land. There are so many things to go and explore.

Just like Sarah, you really love photography too right?

I do! In high school, I was just starting out. I now have about six cameras. It’s just a thing that I love so much. I started directing – every aspect of film-making is so interesting to me. Composition and things like that. Photography has helped me notice certain things, and be very present. You notice all the details. I love the process of it all, the stillness of it all.

We hear you have a dog?

I do! His name is Johnny. He’s not here with me right now, but he’s with my best friend’s mum at the beach so I don’t think he’s terribly sad.

What other kind of hobbies do you have?

I love being outdoors, I love travelling. I had some massive travelling plans for this summer [from June 2010] had I not booked a film, but I’m happy for the film! I love learning as much as I possibly can. For me, I love to see what someone across the world is experiencing, or somebody next door. Art, photography – I’m really a big geeky artist who wants to keep up with all of that sort of stuff, you know?

Is it difficult doing Glee and the film as well?

Last hiatus I was lucky enough to do three films. It was a bit challenging because they were in different locations: one was in France, one was in NY and one was back in LA. That was a little much, because of the time zones, and two of them – NY and France – I was having to go back and forth and do pieces, pieces, pieces, pieces. But with film, the schedule is so different. TV is such a go-go-go type schedule. And with film, it’s still long hours, still a lot to do, but you have a little more extra time in the morning or at night to decompress. You will spend time in your trailer while on Glee we are never in our trailers. I don’t even know what my trailer looks like!

Do you like being so busy?

I do. I came off of doing the series, then I went straight onto doing the tour, and then I went straight to this. The tour took a month, and this is gonna go up to filming season two, but they’re all such different things. It really makes everything new and fun and exciting. I never think about having enough time off, I like being busy.

What’s it like working with this crew and cast?

I’ve been so lucky – every project that I’ve worked with, from everybody on the crew to everybody on the cast, everyone has been so easy-going. I don’t know what it’s like to experience a director that yells or a crew that wishes they weren’t there or weren’t working as hard as they possibly could. I mean, up until now, this has been a dream. Everybody has been so kind, and the character’s so fun, and I’m really having a great time.

Do you have any advice for teenagers who feel like they’re being bullied?

People ask me all the time, ‘Were you popular in high school?’. I certainly wasn’t popular in the terms we see depicted in TV and film. I wasn’t picked on very much, because I was very nice to people. I wasn’t confrontational at all. I had friends in all different areas, be it Yearbook, Drama, my classes or whatever, but I saw so much of it going on all the time. It’s about not succumbing to the pressure to be like the people around you. That’s so hard at that age because you don’t have a choice – you have to go to school with that set group of peers, and if they’re predominately kind, wonderful, and if they’re predominately mean, that’s unfortunate because you can’t say, ‘Oh, I’m kicking it off to the next school!’.

Do you people recognise you when you’re out and about?

Yeah, this has been the craziest year. You don’t often the whole cast together of a TV show you enjoy. Everybody who watches our show who comes up to us, they’re so kind and they are very sharing because we play underdogs on the show. A lot of them have expressed, ‘I was gay and I was able to come out to my parents because I watched the progression of Chris’ character’. I’ve had very many girls say to me ‘I went on birth control because I’m being pro-active with my choices’ or ‘I had a baby when I was 16, and I’m glad you didn’t have an abortion because now I have this child who I love more than life’. All these things! Our show is about inclusiveness and what makes you happy. Moreso than any other friends who work on shows or movies, we have these wonderful people come up to us and share their lives. I think more than ever we feel grateful, and slightly responsible to continue that path with the show. It’s been such a surreal journey, this show.

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About Georgia

I'm a young adult novelist with a weakness for hot nerds and cheese platters, not necessarily in that order. I am currently working on my third novel. I'm pretty excited about having just turned 30 because it means I can justify spending a lot of time thinking about homewares.
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