Actor Thomas Mann is no stranger to coming of age films, having appeared in a number of different movies involving high school and college-age kids, including It’s Kind of a Funny Story, the low-budget comedy Project X and the young adult adaptation of Beautiful Creatures.
In Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Jesse Andrews’ adaptation of his own novel of the same name, Mann plays high school senior Greg who is coerced by his mother (Connie Britton) to spend time with a classmate named Rachel (Olivia Cooke), who has been diagnosed with leukemia. The two of them start to bond as Greg begins to work with his filmmaking partner Earl (newcomer RJ Cyler) to make a movie for their new friend.
While it’s hard to explain why the film, directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, is so wonderful and worth seeing, it was the talk of this year’s Sundance Film Festival. And as some expected, it was the latest film to premiere in competition at the festival to walk away with both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award. (The last movie to do so was last year’s Oscar-nominated Whiplash.)
In the video player below, you can watch Mann talk about why he wanted to play the role of Greg in a movie that so brilliantly combines humor and emotional drama, but doesn’t follow the path of the usual coming-of-age high school movies we’ve seen.
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl opens in select cities on Friday, June 12, with further expansion over the next couple months. Look for our interviews with director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon and screenwriter Jesse Andrews soon.