Actress Sarah Wright discusses her role in 21 & Over, debuting on Blu-ray and DVD June 18
While most college students don't have a 21st birthday celebration quite like the guys in 21 & Over, actress Sarah Wright had a much different experience, at a much younger age. When I rececntly spoke to the talented actress over the phone, to promote the Blu-ray and DVD release debuting on June 18th, we spoke about her crazy 17th birthday in Japan, playing such a wide variety of ages at this stage in her career, her unusual Idaho audition tape for this role, and much more. Take a look at our exclusive conversation below.
This might be a bit too obvious to start with, but is there anything that specifically stands out about your own 21st birthday experience? I read that you started modeling rather early, so I was curious if you had the typical collegiate 21st experience?
Sarah Wright: (Laughs) I did not. I kind of started younger, to be honest. I was travelling in Japan when I was like 16, and I remember... oh man, this is probably not a good thing to say, but, I was in Japan, in a place called the Lexington Queen, and it was my 17th birthday. This is so cheesy, but I remember "Dancing Queen" came on, and I was 17, and I was totally partying at like 3 o'clock in the morning, taking the train back at like 6 AM. I was like, 'This is the life.' I was a little young to start out like that, but that's what happened. By the time I turned 21, I was like, 'Oh, please.' I'll just go to dinner and have a glass of wine. I'm good (Laughs).
That's hilarious. I actually remember talking to your husband Eric Christian Olsen on the set of Fired Up. He was talking about when you're an actor in your mid-20s, how you can play between a high school kid and someone in their mid-20s. Since you play a college student in this one, is that kind of refreshing to be able to play that kind of age range?
Sarah Wright: Yeah, it's awesome. When I was shooting the movie, they called me to come and shoot a couple of days on Parks and Recreation. I think it was the Halloween episode. I thought it was crazy, because I'm playing Rob Lowe's girlfriend next week, but this week I'm 21 years old. Yeah, it was great, and I love doing that. When I started in this business, I was turning 20, and I was playing 15 on TV, on the show, so I'm always playing younger, and I'd love to continue playing younger for as long as I possibly can. I think, especially in comedy, it works that way where you're older but you play younger. It's fun. I played a college sorority girl in The House Bunny, and that was five or six years ago.
Is there anything in particular you look for when you pick up a script, and what really sparked your interest when you picked up 21 & Over?
Sarah Wright: I first thought, 'I'm too old for this' (Laughs). I thought they didn't want me to do this movie, but my agent said they did and I should check it out. I read it and it's funny, there are just certain things that drew me in. I love great banter and great funny writing, as anybody who's reading a script does, but with (writer-directors) Jon (Lucas) and Scott (Moore), the story was so good and so funny. Honestly, in a lot of movies like this, the girl character becomes really small and there's not a lot going on with her. She's just sort of there. I kind of felt like this was different. There was more going on with her, she was kind of biting. There was something more to this character, and something more to her story. That's what really drew me to do this part.
At that point, were Miles Teller, Skylar Astin, and Justin Chon attached, when you first heard about this?
Sarah Wright: They had just officially cast all three of them, when I auditioned for it. I was actually in Idaho. We have a barn, just outside of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and I was just there for the summer, to hang out. They asked me to put myself on tape for it, so my husband put me on tape, and he and I were just improving on the tape and just playing around with the material. I was being filmed with the barn doors behind me, and when they asked me to come back to L.A. and read with Skylar for a chemistry read, the first thing they said was, 'Where were you when you shot that tape? It looks like you were in a barn.' Yeah, I was in a barn. The guys were cast, and I read with Skylar a couple of times, then I got the part.
How much improvisation did they allow you to do on the set? This is Jon and Scott directorial debut, but were they really open to a lot of improv on the set?
Sarah Wright: They were awesome about it. In the audition, one of the first thing they were saying was, 'The writing sucks, so do whatever you want with it.' What? It was so funny! They were super open to improv, they encouraged it, and it's what I think made the movie feel, in my opinion, more natural. Miles (Teller) is always saying all this crazy stuff. We would do a take on the page, then we'd do a take off the page, and where we wanted to take it. They would give us ideas here and there. The whole experience was such a great learning experience for me, and it was awesome. I just shot a thing for their pilot that just got picked up, Jon and Scott. They did the same thing on that set, and let everybody improv. It's a great way to work.
I actually met those guys on the set of The Change-Up. They're hilarious.
Sarah Wright: They're so fun! Jon is hilarious, and he always has these things he's writing down when you're doing a scene, then he'll give you these ideas. Scott is so funny and so smart, and I love that they do stuff together.
With guys like that who have worked together for so long, does it feel like two people are directing the movie, or just one cohesive unit?
Sarah Wright: No, it feels like one cohesive unit. Sometimes you meet a director, and you're not sure, but even in the audition room, they were just such a good team. Jon has the things that he does and that he sees, and Scott has his own thing. One of them will come out and talk to be about certain specific things, and the other one would have other ideas. They bring so much more to the table, and I thought it was fantastic that they can work that well together.
You have Walk of Shame coming up, which looks rather hilarioius. Can you talk a bit about your character in that, or anything else you have coming up?
Sarah Wright: Yeah, well, first of all, I'm seven months pregnant, so I shot that movie when I was in my second month, third month, and maybe into my fourth month of being pregnant, so it was kind of crazy. At the beginning, I thought it would be totally fine, but by the end of it, I had to wear this super-tight yellow dress, and I was definitely showing a little bit. But no, the character is really fun, she's very dry and a little aggressive. It's a fun, far-out there character. I usually play those characters on TV, so it was great to do that in the movie. I play Elizabeth Banks and Gillian Jacobs' best friend in the movie, and we're just sort of trying to track her down throughout the film. James Marsden was awesome to work with. I have a great scene with him that I cannot wait to see, where I'm just attacking him. It will be really fun.
Awesome. That's my time, Sarah. Thanks so much. It was great talking to you.
Sarah Wright: Yeah, great talking to you too.
You can watch Sarah Wright as Nicole in 21 & Over, debuting on Blu-ray and DVD June 18th.
21 & Over was released March 1st, 2013 and stars Miles Teller, Skylar Astin, Justin Chon, Sarah Wright, Jonathan Keltz, François Chau, Russell Hodgkinson, Daniel Booko. The film is directed by Jon Lucas, Scott Moore.