Raising teens in this day and age is very complicated. My children often share their daily struggles with their peers, and the social pressures they endure in their generation.
I was invited to screen and interview the sensational cast of LOVE, SIMON and I was not prepared for the emotional journey that I would experience as a parent. This movie was truly a blessing in disguise, because it gave me a glimpse into the life and struggles of a teen who is conflicted with his identity. Love, Simon helped me in many ways, and showed me the importance of a parent’s role in this complicated situation.
Hear what the cast of LOVE, SIMON had to say below!
Thank you Twentieth Century Fox for inviting me to screen and interview the cast of Love, Simon. All opinions are my own.
Seventeen- year old Simon Spier is struggling like many teens his age. He’s yet to tell his family and friends he’s gay. He has fallen hard for an anonymous classmate online, and finds himself struggling to come out. Resolving both issues proves hilarious, complicated, terrifying, and life-changing.
Directed by Greg Berlanti (Riverdale, The Flash, Supergirl), written by Isaac Aptaker & Elizabeth Berger (This is Us), and based on Becky Albertalli’s acclaimed novel, LOVE, SIMON is a funny and heartfelt coming-of-age story about the thrilling ride of finding yourself and falling in love.
I cried, laughed out loud hysterically, and felt that I could relate to some of the family moments while screening this film. This unconventional love story is about family, friendship, acceptance, and being true to oneself.
Here are some excerpts from our March 2nd press conference with Jennifer Garner, Josh Duhamel and Nick Robinson.
Jennifer Garner: Did you like it?
Press: Oh, yes.
Jennifer Garner: Isn’t he great? Aren’t you proud of him?
Nick Robinson: Thanks, Mom.
Moderator: So, you guys all come to this movie. They’re a nice family, aren’t they? Didn’t they do such a nice job with this guy? They raised him nicely, you know.
Josh Duhamel: Just so unattractive.
Nick Robinson: Yes, I get that a lot.
Moderator: When each of you got this script, was there a particular scene that leapt out at you that said, gosh, I really want to play that scene, or I have a thought about how this will go that made you want to do this? And we’ll start with you, Nick.
Nick Robinson: I think there were several scenes. The one–kind of all of the sequences of coming out. The first coming out scene between Alex and I, I thought was handled really delicately and kind of beautifully and not too heavy-handed. And it was hard to get that from the script, but after talking to Greg [Berlanti, director] I felt confident that he would be able to kind of bring the delicacy that it needed.
And then also the scenes between Josh and Jen, just because they were so beautifully written and I felt like kind of necessary for this whole journey that this Simon character goes on. So, those were both exciting for me, and the dance sequence, obviously, because, I mean–.
Josh Duhamel: –Yes–.
Nick Robinson: –-Wow. Yes.
Moderator: And you, Jen?
Jennifer Garner: I thought the scene between Emily and her son is just like a template for how moms could handle a moment like this. And selfishly, I really wanted to be the one to say it.
And I was talking to a friend of mine as I was trying to decide do I try to do this? Is this movie going to work? And he said, you know, this movie would have been really helpful for me when I was growing up. This would have been a big deal for me. And I just said, okay, I’m in. I’m doing it. You’ve got it.
Josh Duhamel: Are we talking about which scene in particular? I forgot the question.
Moderator: Yes. No, the question was you can–you may answer this question or another one, and I can throw you another one. But I was asking what scene, when you read the script, really stood out for you as a scene you wanted to play.
Josh Duhamel: Well, that’s easy. It was the scene with Nick and I in the driveway. I mean, there’s several reasons I wanted to do the movie, but if you’re going to ask me which scene, it’s that one, because I think that this character represents maybe a lot of fathers out there who have found out that their sons were gay, or their daughters.
He wasn’t necessarily homophobic, but he was, like you said, tone deaf to a lot of things, and probably wasn’t as tuned in as he should have been, and learns through the reveal that, you know what? It doesn’t matter. I love you no matter what. And I think that there’s something really powerful in that.
Moderator: Now, all three of you have been in high school movies, have played young people, are playing young people. Now you two are playing the parents and not the protagonist in this one.
Josh Duhamel: Thanks for reminding us.
Moderator: Very young parents. As part of–.
Josh Duhamel: –We had them when we were, what, eight?
Moderator: Well, you did a good job, as I said, and it’s nice that you were able to cobble things together as eight year old parents. You don’t see that.
Josh Duhamel: No.
Moderator: But seriously, as people have been in his spot and who have played, you know, in youth movies and now playing parents, do you bring something special, some special insight? And what makes this different from maybe the generation of youth movies that you were auditioning for or working in?
Josh Duhamel: Well, for me it was many things. Greg Berlanti is one of my favorite people in the world. I did a movie with him several years ago called Life as We Know It, and we’ve remained friends ever since. I felt that it had this–and especially after seeing it, it had, like, this John Hughes sort of–coming of age sort of feel to it, which I loved. And I loved the–after seeing it, I love the music in the movie.
Jennifer Garner: That’s so important, right? In a movie, if you’re trying to reach a younger audience, the joie de vivre, the music, the just overall energy of it, and Greg really–he really–.
Josh Duhamel: –Yes–.
Jennifer Garner: –Understands that. And it doesn’t matter whether you’re playing the parents or whether you’re playing the protagonist. You still have to kind of bring that energy into a movie like this. And it was fun to do.
Moderator: Great. One last question because I know you’re all itching to ask questions.
Who were you guys in high school? Do you see yourselves in these characters? Or who do you think you would be if we were looking at this film and saying that’s Jen Garner in high school?
Josh Duhamel: Oh, man. I’ll let you guys handle that one.
Nick Robinson: I don’t think anyone in high school has actually, like, found the best version of themselves. But I felt like I was kind of the guy who could go from group to group and kind of get along, you know, just get by. I don’t know if I’d, like, classify any particular, you know, clique that I fell into, but just–you know, just average guy–.
Jennifer Garner: –Yes–.
Nick Robinson: –In life.
Jennifer Garner: Yes.
Josh Duhamel: You’re so modest.
Nick Robinson: Yes. Yes.
Josh Duhamel: No, it’s true. I mean, if you really take–.
Jennifer Garner: –You were the jock.
Josh Duhamel: No. Well, I did play sports.
Jennifer Garner: Right.
Josh Duhamel: But, like Nick–.
Jennifer Garner: –With kind of a–.
Josh Duhamel: –I had friends with Metallica jackets that smoked cigarettes out back too. You know, I was–.
Moderator: –So, you got along with both sets of bullies in your high school.
Josh Duhamel: I was–like Nick, I was the guy who tried to, you know, be as available to or accepting or friendly to everybody. I really did.
Press: And you, Jen?
Jennifer Garner: I don’t think I even rated a character in this movie. I mean, I was happy. I didn’t think about the fact that because I was in West Virginia. I don’t know. Either we didn’t pay attention or I didn’t pay attention to popular cliques or anything like that.
You know, I played the saxophone and I danced every day after school and I babysat a lot.
Moderator: Well, if there’s one message from this movie, it’s that it will be okay and you will survive it.
Jennifer Garner: Right. Yes.
Moderator: And it’s nice to see you guys represent such real characters who deal with real problems so positively and without making it heavy drama. I loved it.
So, let’s throw it out to you guys. I’m sure you have better questions than that. In the back, raising your hand with the jacket?
Press: Congrats to the three of you. Nick, you’re going to have a long career, man. You’re great.
Nick Robinson: Thank you.
Press: I’m going to put you on the spot a little bit to say that–I’m Rick Kahn [sp] from Black Hollywood Live, and I wanted to know if–like, what’s your takeaway from working with Josh and Jennifer? Because, like, they’ve had, like, a long career, and when they stared out headshots were black and white.
Josh Duhamel: That’s a good way to look at it.
Press: That was brutal.
Jennifer Garner: That is correct.
Nick Robinson: The main–.
Josh Duhamel: –Only because they were artsy.
Nick Robinson: It was that Metallica jacket–.
Josh Duhamel: –Yes–.
Nick Robinson: –In the–yes.
My main takeaway was that these guys are professionals and that they show up every day, and that’s about it. No, I’m just kidding.
It really was like the perfect casting, I think, because it was the coolest parents you know, and that’s these two. And it was like they really understood what Simon was going through. And it showed too, like, even when you have the best possible upbringing, best possible scenario, this journey that Simon goes on of coming out is still difficult. It’s still hard even when you have the best case scenario. So, I thought that it was great.
Press: Thank you.
Press: Great work, guys. This question is mainly for Josh and Jen. Both–obviously, you’re both parents. How has this movie impacted, changed, or reinforced your way of being if one day one of your kids tells you that they’re gay?
Josh Duhamel: I guess it did make me think about how I would react. I truly just want my kid to be happy and be passionate about whatever it is that he loves. And if he happened–if he–if that–if he came out as he was gay, so be it, you know, if that makes him happy. I truly believe that that’s what it would be.
And it’s–maybe it’s because I’ve–you know, I waited a while before I became a parent. I’ve seen a lot. I have a lot of gay friends. And so, it doesn’t–I don’t really–I really don’t care. I just want him to be–I just want everybody to live–be their highest self, you know? And if that’s what it is, that’s what it is. It really doesn’t bother me.
Jennifer Garner: But also, our kids are growing up in such a different time where–my kids are growing up saying, oh, some day when I get married, I don’t know if I’ll marry a man or a woman. They really–that door is open in a way that it never has been. And they really do know, oh, this is so and so and this is his husband, and this is so and so and this is her wife. And that has completely been normalized for–at least for my kids and hopefully will be for this whole next generation.
So, I think it would be a conversation that, you know, if–that somebody would be part of–hopefully me, but, you know, somebody in their lives would be a part of from a much earlier stage so that it wouldn’t be as involved with, like, the teen angst at the same time. But I certainly–you know, my kids would know that I’d be super gung-ho, awesome, let’s do it.
Press: I am. I am with Red Carpet Report. But my question is–well, first of all, I loved it and it rang so much like a John Hughes, like a modern Pretty in Pink to me, which–.
Jennifer Garner: –Yay, Greg.
Press: Yes. And growing up as an artsy girl, that movie, like, spoke to so many girls and guys that I know. Do you kind of hope this has the same effect to today’s youth?
Jennifer Garner: Heck, yes. I mean, wouldn’t that be amazing if we hit today’s youth like a John Hughes movie? What could possibly be a higher compliment to Greg? And certainly we would all feel the kind of reflected glory of that.
Press: But I think it definitely will.
Jennifer Garner: Thank you.
Press: Hi. Nick, thank you so much. You did such a good job with this and the whole–I was just wondering if you had read the book, and how much of Simon you feel is a part of you.
Nick Robinson: I have read the book. I read the script first, though. I was first introduced to the story through Greg, who had this script that he was kind of championing. And it was afterwards that I met Becky (author) and I read the book.
And I think that everyone, myself included, can relate to Simon and his sort of journey in just trying to find yourself and come to terms with yourself in a way that feels comfortable to not just you, but all the people around you as well. And I feel that Simon, his journey, for a lot of it is about him sort of tamping himself down, which I think people can relate to.
It’s like, you know, what kind of person are you when you’re constantly trying to please other people and, like, tamp down your own personality? And I think that that’s kind of something that, you know, the film deals with really beautifully. And it’s something that I can totally relate to with Simon as well, just being in that position of trying to–just trying to keep all these balls in the air and just get through it. So, yes, I think–does that answer your question? I think it does.
Press: Hi there. The movie was outstanding. And as–same page as you guys, I appreciate it because it was just beautiful. But my question, Nick, is when you–that scene when you went back online and you spoke about I am gay and you took your power back, what word of advice or what is it that you want–people who are struggling to come out, what would you tell them?
Nick Robinson: I think exactly like you said, take your power back. And, I mean, it’s different for everyone, I think. But it’s–just be bold, be strong and loud, and be happy with what you–you know, be confident in what you’re trying to say. And yes, just dance some to Whitney Houston. I don’t know, just–.
Jennifer Garner: –That’s just great.
Press: Hi, I’m Satori [sp]. I’m curious. For us all to share connecting with you and the roles that you all have acted, it was truly authentic. So, where did you have to go to help us follow your characters? How did you get to the emotional depths? Could you share with us maybe some personal insight because we all go through trials and tribulations? So, could you share maybe a little bit for each of you to tell us, you know, maybe something that helped you strike a chord with all of us in the audience?
Josh Duhamel: Well, Greg gives you room to play and to find, you know, whatever it is. And that’s what was really fun about a lot of the stuff that we did.
In particular, like I said before, the scene that I really wanted to do this movie for was the scene with he and I. And I think it was what–how did I get there? I truly thought about my boy. And if this were to happen, if he were to tell me this, how would that affect me? And it just took me to, like, a really emotional place, just because that–truly, no matter what, you love your kid no matter what. And I think that that helped me get to that spot.
Nick made it very easy. He’s a very talented dude and was very available. And, you know, it’s not easy doing scenes like that. But, you know, as long as you feel safe to go there and to just tell the truth as honestly as you can, that’s what you hope for. And I guess that’s what helped me get there.
Jennifer Garner: Well, for me, honestly, I was thinking about so many friends of mine and thinking, oh, I wish I could go back for them and say this to them. I wish that I could have–you know, I wish–there have been a couple of friends, especially when I was younger, who came out to me. And I think, God, please let me have had a moment of wisdom when I was there for that moment. I hope that I did. But, yes, I was just so filled with love for the whole experience of it.
Nick Robinson: Yes, I would say it was Greg as well.
Jennifer Garner: Yes.
Nick Robinson: I would just reiterate that. He really made it a safe space for everyone.
Jennifer Garner: Um-hmm.
Press: Fabulous. Hi, guys. My name’s Miles. Good morning, team.
Josh Duhamel: Good morning, team.
Press: How are you guys doing? Good morning to you. So, I had a question but the lady in front took it, so I’m just gonna make one up right now for y’all.
So–oh, what should I say? So, a lot of the movie deals with, you know, having a secret and not really knowing how to express it and tell everyone, you know, what that secret is. Is there a point in your life where you have either gone through, like, a–either had a secret and didn’t know how to tell someone, or a transitional phase and it was really rough, and how did you get through it?
Nick Robinson: I think everyone has secrets and it’s sort of–like, they’re just a weight that you can carry around. And the more you talk about it, the better it gets.
Yes, it’s very personal for everyone, I think, this idea of, like, coming out with your secrets and coming out and sort of letting the air in. And I don’t know if there’s a right answer, really, for anyone. I think it’s a very–.
Nick Robinson: –Yes, I think it’s a–.
Nick Robinson: –Very personal thing.
Josh Duhamel: I think you’re right, too. I mean, the more you shine a light on whatever it is that scares you the most, the less scary it becomes.
Nick Robinson: Yes.
Josh Duhamel: But, yes, I mean, I have family members that went through exactly what these guys–or what this family went through.
And I watched a very sort of old school dad and a very sort of accepting mother and how they dealt with it. And he just got married last year, and the dad could not stop crying he was so happy for his son, you know? So, I think that’s a good example of, again, it doesn’t matter as long as your kid feels happy, passionate about something. And as long as they’re a kind human being at the end of the day, who gives a shit what their sexual orientation is–?
Josh Duhamel: –You know?
Press: I loved the movie. I was very moved by it. I’m a little tear streaked. We don’t see a lot of movies in this genre anymore. A lot of things are superheroes and all that, especially with gay content. Do you guys have any perspective on how they were able to get it made and get the money and get the budget? Because it’s really the kind of movie that you might–the story that you would see in a very small niche, and this feels like a big mainstream movie.
Jennifer Garner: Well, Elizabeth Gabler at Fox 2000 was really brave to take this movie on. It’s not the kind of thing that has been made. I think the power of Greg is, you know, his success is definitely the motor behind it.
But I think the important thing is for people to go out and see it or it won’t happen again. So, we can live in a world of superheroes, and they’re awesome and there’s a place for it, or we can support the movies that we want to see more of. And, you know, I hope that this is one that people will, you know, go and sit in a theater and watch as a group and enjoy and celebrate.
Moderator: A great answer.
Well, I want to leave on this note. It’s an important movie. It’s a moving movie. But more than anything, it’s a wildly entertaining and fun movie. And you should go out and see it and support it and tell other people to see it. So, thank you so much. Thanks to the cast.
Jennifer Garner: Thank you for making the day–.
Press: –Thank you–.
Jennifer Garner: –The time to be here, you know, everybody. Thank you so much.
Josh Duhamel: Bye everybody.
Cast: Nick Robinson, Katherine Langford, Alexandra Shipp, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Miles Heizer, Keiynan Lonsdale, Logan Miller, Jennifer Garner, Josh Duhamel, Tony Hale
This heartwarming and funny film is a MUST-SEE! Go see it in theaters March 16th…