July 7, 2008

`Juno’ Pal’s Career Goes Up in Smoke

Olivia Thirlby may have caught our eyes as Leah, the best friend of Juno MacGuff (played by Ellen Page) in Diablo Cody's mega indie hit "Juno," but she stars alongside Josh Peck in the new film "The Wackness" by director Jonathan Levine. "I shot this movie before `Juno' came out, so I was pretty much an unknown actor when I got this part and made this movie . . . it's kind of funny to have seen all the `Juno' stuff happen," Thirlby said.

In the Wacky Sundance Film Festival hit, Thirlby plays the popular, rich and very bored Stephanie, whose dad is Dr. Squires (played by Ben Kingsley), a therapist who befriends the lonely and misguided high school drug dealer Luke Shapiro (Josh Peck).

Thirlby found it really easy to get into character since she's a New York City native. "It was really easy. I got to play it pretty much exactly as me . . . but Jonathan really encouraged us to be ourselves," she told the Herald.

Levine, who grew up in the Big Apple but attended his senior year of high school at Phillips Academy in Andover, has been to Boston before.

"They would never card me," the boyish-faced director told the Herald about his beer-buying stunts.

The director, who has been interested in filmmaking since he was 12, hopes people will get a kick out of his flick.

"I hope it alllows people to remember the summer they got their heart broken or they first fell in love. It's an alternative to some of the bigger movies out there," he said.

The "Wackness" actress most enjoyed filming a scene in Central Park in which she and her co-star shared a weed-laced kiss.

"We were sitting on a rock in Central Park smoking fake joints and filming and we see these people below us smoking real joints. We yelled down to them and tried to tell them we were filming a movie about what they were doing but they were really confused so we decided not to freak them out," she said.

"We WERE enlightened by the natural aroma though," she joked.


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