“The Scarlet Letter” gets a modern twist and meets John Hughes in the new Screen Gems comedy Easy A (watch the new trailer), which stars Emma Stone, Penn Badgley, Amanda Bynes, Thomas Haden Church, Patricia Clarkson, Cam Gigandet, Lisa Kudrow, Aly Michalka and Stanley Tucci. The September 17 release is loosely based on Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1850 novel.
Director Will Gluck explained the plot to ComingSoon.net on the film’s set last summer. “You’ll see [Emma Stone is] reading ‘The Scarlet Letter’ in high school. She stitches an A on her outfit and she kinda owns the whole Scarlet Letter. There is symbolism, but it’s not exactly what Hawthorne used. Since we’re in Ojai [CA] and there’s oranges everywhere there are oranges in almost every scene. Basically when things go bad you’ll see less oranges. When things go well you’ll see more oranges.”
Stone plays a high school student named Olive who is falsely accused of sleeping around. The rumor starts when Amanda Bynes’ character, who is a religious conservativ,e learns Olive isn’t a virgin and dislikes her for not waiting until she is married to have sex. So she begins to tell lies about her to make the school hate her as well. Olive has an interesting approach to the situation and tries to turn the rumor around to her advantage. Instead of denying it, she goes along with it, but her plan backfires.
“The rumor gets spread that she’s having sex for money. It’s a false rumor. If the students pay her enough she’ll have sex. People are paying her just to say she’s had sex with them,” Gluck said. “As soon as she’s had sex, she gets put on a pedestal. So the guys go, ‘hey I want to be on the pedestal,’ so they kinda blackmail her to say she had sex with them. It all spins out of control. So there’s no sex – it’s all about talking about sex,” he continued.
While the film does follow a group of high school students and the pressures they deal with, this movie isn’t just another teen comedy. “It has big issues of sexuality and promiscuity and how you’re perceived, but then it’s not just from the kid’s point of view,” Gluck told us.
“Thomas Hayden Church and Lisa Kudrow’s character–they go through some stuff that’s even tougher than what Emma Stone is going through. Something happens in the movie that takes what Emma is going through and kinda puts in the way backburner of reality. That’s why it becomes a very adult movie very quickly,” he said.
We went to Nordhoff High School in Ojai, California which served as one of the sets for the film and watched two keys scenes in the movie being filmed.
There’s a pep rally before a big basketball game. We’re in the school gymnasium listening to the band play and watching cheerleaders dance.
Penn Badgley is Todd, the school mascot. He’s painted blue from an earlier scene and is wearing a woodchuck suit. He runs through a banner with a wheelbarrow full of chopped wooden logs that says “Ojai North Rules!”
He then grabs a log and pretends to nibble on it in an attempt to get the crowd riled up. He then jumps up on a spring board and tries to shoot a basketball into the hoop, but falls.
Gluck admits he never experienced pep rallies in high school and turned to movies that inspired him to help get a better idea of them.
“I went to school in NYC. We didn’t have pep rallies and this stuff. All my concept of this kind of stuff is from John Hughes movies,” he said. “I put a huge John Hughes element in this,” he added.
In one take during this scene, while Badgley was running through the banner, he accidentally slipped and fell when he wasn’t supposed to.
Immediately, a group of crew members ran over to make sure he was okay.
The director laughed about the incident.
“I had a heart attack when the crew jumped on him. It was like Jesus Christ fell off the cross. He’s a kid. He’s got padding all over him. He’s 22 years old. He’s fine. He should have jumped up and said “woodchuck.” I guarantee if Malcolm McDowell or someone else would have fallen down, they wouldn’t have cared He was great. He got right back up.”
Olive is really going all out to make people believe the rumors about her are true. She surprises the audience at the rally and puts on a show they won’t forget. She’s hiding in the wheelbarrow Todd is pushing through the banner. When he breaks through, she jumps out and is wearing sexy red and black lingerie, black fishnet stockings, heels and a red feather boa.
Although the song playing in the scene wasn’t her, she actually does sing in the film and has an amazing voice.
Olive entices the cheering crowd with her sensual dance moves and powerful voice. She addresses the audience after she performs and says, “This is just a free preview of the show. For the main event, log on to FreeOlive.com at 6PM. I know that interferes with the basketball games, but would you rather be watching the woodchucks or watching me do one?”
The principal (McDowell) runs onto the gym floor after her and he grabs her arm. He angrily said, “That’s enough of that young lady. You’re coming to the office with me right now.”
Olive breaks loose of his grip and said, “I can’t because I have a date with my boyfriend and the rest of the school.” She runs away with Todd out the door screaming, “Go Blue Devils.”
We got a chance to talk to Emma Stone, Penn Badgley and Amanda Bynes when we visited the set, and you can check out the interviews using the links below!