The new movie Me & Earl & the Dying Girl deals with some heavy issues. You can tell just by the title, which was first a book by Jesse Andrews. Yes, there is really a dying girl. Her name is Rachel, and she's played by the lovely Brit, Olivia Cooke. The "me" is Greg, played by Thomas Mann, a high schooler who has managed to not insult any clique and therefore stay pretty under-the-radar throughout his entire life—right where he wants to be. His partner in crime is the "Earl," played by RJ Cyler. Together, they make funny movies interpreting American classics, much to the amusement of Greg's father (Nick Offerman). When Greg's mom (Connie Britton) asks him to befriend Rachel to help cheer her up, his world changes.
What results is an endearing coming-of-age film about friendship. We belly-laughed when Greg has to trudge upstairs after learning his new assignment from his mom, we loved the inclusion of art and drawings and movies throughout the film, and we welled up at the ending (which we won't tell you here). What we loved most is that it's truly a movie about love, but not in the romantic sense. It's about love in the way of being a good son or a good daughter and being a good friend.
The film's must-watch qualities won the Grand Jury Prize in the U.S. Dramatic Competition as well as the prestigious Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival. That's where we caught up with the cast, including (from top left), Katherine Hughes, RJ Cyler, author Jesse Andrews, Thomas Mann, Olivia Cooke, Connie Britton, director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, and Molly Shannon.
This cast as a whole had so much energy when they stopped by our pop-up portrait studio in Park City, Utah, where this photo was taken. They were all just so thrilled that the movie was generating buzz because each person associated with the film felt so passionately for it. Not just about the story, but about what the project taught them after they were done. Scroll down as the three main leads share their life lessons.
"Being so young and having to deal with cancer makes you see life in a different way. You really do cherish every little thing. Working on this film made me a better person. I try not to moan as much and I’ve got it pretty good."
"RJ taught me to be in the moment, not really care about what people think, and say whatever’s on your mind. I really respect that. He’s been really incredibly fun and easy to have on set. Anytime he would come on set everyone’s mood would just be lifted exponentially."
"Throughout the movie it’s like, Thomas and I became genuine friends, not just co-workers. It made shooting the movie ten times better. He helped me not over-think everything. He showed me how to dial it down and having a partner like Thomas to feed off of made my performance better. I was always looking forward to waking up the next day."
Me & Earl & the Dying Girl is in theaters June 12.