Pictures of Thomas attending the Pittsburgh Premiere of Me And Earl And The Dying Girl from June 12th have been added to the gallery.
At its Sundance premiere, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl bagged a five-minute standing ovation and received both Grand Jury and Audience awards in the US Drama category.
Thomas Mann stars as Greg Gaines in a role that defines his still-young career and will undoubtedly propel it skywards. In conversation here with director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, the pair reflect on life after Sundance.
Thomas Mann Hey Alfonso. Are you at home?
Alfonso Gomez-Rejon Yeah, I’m on like my seventh cup of coffee.
TM I’m on my first; I had to be awake for this conversation. [laughs]
AG-R So at our first audition together [for Gomez- Rejon’s film The Town That Dreaded Sundown] I didn’t give you the part. I almost did, I thought you were so brilliant and I felt so bad and knew, and I knew I wanted to work with you at some point – I took you out for a beer, you remember that?
TM Yeah I remember that, it was the second or third time we met, the first time we got to really know each other. It was a great conversation, we were talking about actors and movies. You listed all these films I needed to watch, and since then you keep sending me movies periodically, which is a great habit you’ve picked up, I hope it continues. When we were at the bar I remember thinking, “Hands down, I have this part, no question.”
AG-R Before I’d made the decision?
TM Yeah it was before, you were like, “I don’t know what’s going to happen, but whatever does happen I think you’re great…” But it came back around.
AG-R I don’t know how you do it [audition] so often. When you didn’t get the part were you crushed? Or was it just one of those things that’s just ‘a day in the life’ of being an actor?
TM I guess you pick and choose which parts you are going to get upset about, you’d kill yourself if you were just depressed over every part you didn’t get, and that’s most parts. It’s harder when you get really close and invest all your time into learning the lines and getting into character. I read really slow and I work pretty slowly so it’s more of a process for me, it’s frustrating putting all this effort in and not getting the part in the end. Auditions, at least for me, they ruin your day, I can’t eat, I can’t plan anything else because I’m preparing for it. It’s stressful, but that’s the job.
Not since Ferris Bueller has there been a high schooler more keen on raging against the machine than Me and Earl and the Dying Girl‘s Greg Gaines. But instead of floats and Ferraris, aspiring filmmaker Greg, played by 23-year-old Thomas Mann with the discomfort of someone who grew six inches over the summer, navigates cafeteria politics with a wry sense of humor and practiced emotional indifference. That is, of course, until his mom makes him befriend Rachel (Olivia Cooke), a Winona-esque classmate with cancer who doesn’t so much force her way in as jolt him out of autopilot, toward an all-too-familiar realization: You can’t play hooky from the real world.
“I wasn’t an outcast,” says Mann, who relocated from Plano, Texas, to Los Angeles halfway through junior year (later finishing school online) to pursue a career in acting, “but, like Greg, I always saw high school as an obstacle, something I had to survive.” It’s ironic, then, that an actor who’s best known for playing the good guy with the badass party in 2012’s virally marketed teen machine Project X will graduate to the big leagues thanks to the spirited Me and Earl, which all but stole this year’s Sundance Film Festival. “I can’t play the nerdy guy who’s too afraid to go up to the girl in science class anymore,” he says. “I want to do something weird or dark or different.” Someone get this kid a diploma.
Thomas Mann and Olivia Cooke are sitting at the Sunset Marquis in Los Angeles lobbing compliments back and forth, about how much they liked working together on Me And Earl And The Dying Girl. The film, out Friday, is based on a young adult novel by Jesse Andrews and reimagines the now-clichéd cancer kid narrative. “Sometimes you’re working and you’re so passive, but with this there wasn’t a point where I was on auto-pilot or felt like anyone, even on the crew, felt like it was just another day,” explains Cooke. “Every day was so exciting no matter what emotions you felt.”
It’s clear the Andrews and Cooke have become close friends, buoyed by a connection they made during the audition process. The actors shot the film last year in Pittsburgh, where the story actually takes place, and everyone on set became fast friends. That camaraderie helped in the storytelling, especially in scenes that required a more intense set of emotions. For Mann, who plays an occasionally apathetic teen named Greg who cares more about filmmaking than he does about connecting with his fellow humans, finding his character’s empathy allowed him to tap into similar feelings. Greg’s journey, which involves a growing friendship with Cooke’s cancer-ridden Rachel as he navigates his final year of high school, came to mirror Mann’s own.
As you can see, Thomas Mann Online has a new layout! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do and if you see any problems, please let me know!
Also, I have added pictures from when the cast of Me & Earl & The Dying Girl appeared at the Apple Store in Soho on June 8th. Pictures from the NYC Premiere of Me & Earl & The Dying Girl on June 10th have also been added to the gallery.
‘Sundance is ruined for me now,” says Thomas Mann, the 23-year-old star ofMe and Earl and the Dying Girl, the wistful teen weepie that had audiences cheering at the film festival back in January. “Even if I have other movies there, it’s not going to be the same kind of explosive experience that this was.” Mann’s 21-year-old co-star, Olivia Cooke, who plays the dying girl, had a similar reaction. “I’d never been to Sundance before and now I feel like I can never go again.” The feeling is understandable: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s film won both a Sundance Grand Jury Prize and an Audience Award and was snapped up by Fox Searchlight in a high-profile seven-figure sale. When it finally opens, on June 12, expectations will be high.
The transition from Sundance smash to mainstream hit can be tricky—for every Little Miss Sunshine there are dozens of festival favorites that flopped—but the disarmingly poised young actors who play the three title characters seem unfazed. They believe in the movie, a cancer tearjerker that’s leavened by an abundance of wit and whimsy. (Overheard at Sundance: “It’s like The Fault in Our Stars if Michel Gondry directed it.”) “Some movies are entirely too heavy, and some movies have no meat in them,” says 20-year-old RJ Cyler, who plays Earl. “But this movie is like the perfect balance of both.”
Commercial success or not, the film has already provided its cast with more than a few never-gonna-forget life experiences. The day he got the job, his first major role, was maybe the most memorable for Cyler. “The day [my brother] graduated from military [basic training] was the same day that they called me and told me I booked the part,” he reminisces. “I was just like, O.K., this day is gonna be very emotional for RJ.”
Here’s hoping a lot of moviegoers are looking for their own very emotional days right in the middle of blockbuster season.
A scan from this issue has also been added to the gallery! Check it out by clicking here.
Thomas Mann sits down with Just Jared Spotlight and opens up about his new film “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl,” which was the biggest hit at Sundance this year.
Thomas’ quiet confidence makes you feel like he’s going to be around for awhile. “You just like him from the minute you see him. It’s hard to cut away from him,” says Barely Lethal director Kyle Newman. For this quality alone, it makes sense that he’s been consistently working since he started acting. It also helps that he’s a great actor.
His love of acting began while doing theater in his hometown of Dallas, Texas. He eventually got an agent and began doing commercials. With the support of his parents, Thomas moved to Los Angeles, at age 17, to give acting a serious go. A friend from acting class was already there, so he moved in with him and his family, to save money on rent. He received his first film role in It’s Kind of a Funny Story, opposite Zach Galifianakis and Emma Roberts after only a few months of auditioning. He’s been on a steady rise ever since. Next came Project X, Fun Size, Beautiful Creatures, Welcome to Me, and the recently released Barely Lethal. The latter, of which, brought him to Atlanta to shoot opposite Hailee Steinfeld, Jessica Alba, and a dream team of young up and comers.
“I made great friends on that film,” Thomas says, “Anytime you’re working with a lot of young people it’s a lot of fun and you just love hanging out off set.”
Newman echoed that sentiment. “There wasn’t a day on the set of Barely Lethal that we weren’t all having a blast. Thomas is just an all around great guy. It was such an honor to work with him.”
Thomas’ latest work, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, is already garnering incredible praise. It won both the Grand Jury Prize for Drama and the Audience awards at Sundance this year and sold for a record 12 million dollars to Fox Searchlight. Not bad for his first Sundance.
He plays Greg Gaines, a teenage filmmaker who befriends a girl with cancer. It is a character Thomas related to. “I just never read a character that sounded so much like myself,” he said. “It was more complex than a lot of coming of age scripts that I’d read. It spoke to me.”
That emotional connection was evident to everyone on set. “Thomas brought an honesty and realness to the character of Greg that is out of this world. It’s really the commitment and passion for this movie that just poured out of Thomas every time he talked about the character Greg or was filming a scene,” said co-star RJ Cyler. The film’s director, Alfonzo Gomez-Rejon couldn’t agree more: “He just embodied this character, and because he was the engine of this entire movie, I had to make sure he was someone I could trust. He did a beautiful job.”
As for what’s next, Thomas isn’t sure. “To me it’s like a game or something. I feel like I’ve reached this level and I just want to get better and work with people I respect and admire.”
Just Jared: Tell us about the first time you read Me and Earl.
TM: The first time I read the script was about a year and a half before they even started casting. It was really funny but also about something very serious and I liked the gray area that the movie lived in.JJ: What was the casting process like?TM: It was a really long process to get cast. And I met Olivia [Cooke, his co-star] the night before we auditioned to get the first day jitters out of our system. We had this intense bond right off the bat.JJ: What about the script for Me and Earl did you love?
In wise, funny and touching teen drama Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (opening June 12), high school outsider Greg Gaines (Thomas Mann, 23) and his “co-worker” Earl (RJ Cyler, 20) spend their spare time making hilarious parodies of classic films. Greg’s life changes when his mom insists he start spending time with a classmate he barely knows, Rachel (Olivia Cooke, 21), who has been diagnosed with cancer.
We asked the film’s stars, who were recently in Toronto, the same three questions:
1. The movie shows the power of platonic love. Have you had that kind of relationship?
2. Who would you rather have in your life? Hip high school history teacher Mr. McCarthy (Jon Bernthal) or Greg’s offbeat, movie-scholar father Victor Gaines (Nick Offerman)?
3. Which of the parody movies in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl was your favourite fake film?
1. It’s what me and Olivia have for real. It transcends gender, that kind of love. It’s a kind of respect.
2. A dad like Nick Offerman. I love my dad and there are some similarities but, yeah. My dad introduced me to a lot of films and he’s sort of artistic as well, so in that way he’s really creative, but his knowledge of art in cinema is nowhere near Mr. Gaines.
3. Shooting Burden of Screams (Burden of Dreams) because we had no time to shoot it, and we were in a park and getting it very guerrilla style, and I was wearing this all white thing and I just had to go for it. It was maybe the first day of shooting and I was terrified.