Last week we were given the incredible opportunity to interview the cast of the upcoming movie Love, Simon, a new coming of age film that follows the titular character as he navigates high school while keeping one major secret: he’s gay. The film is adapted from the book Simon Versus the Homo Sapiens Agenda and tackles the same themes of self discovery you would come to expect for the films of the genre, but tells a story often omitted from mainstream cinema.
We sat down with stars Nick Robinson and Alexandra Shipp to talk about the impact of the Love, Simon and what it means for LGBTQ+ youth to have a film that depicts their own experiences. Robinson is a Seattle local who you may have seen in the indie hit Kings of Summer or the blockbuster juggernaut that was Jurassic World and plays main character Simon Spier. Alexandra Shipp plays Abby Suso, one of Simon’s best friends and closest confidants; she is best known for playing Storm in X-Men: Apocalypse and will star in the upcoming Shaft reboot.
Sierra Stella: Hi, Nick, nice to meet you. Welcome home by the way.
Nick Robinson: Thank you so much.
SS: I know you’re from here. So am I, born and raised.
NR: Hell yeah. I use to come to movies here [at AMC Pacific Place 11] all the time. Used to sneak into R-rated films.
SS: Oh, you were a much worse kid than I was. I was a goody two-shoes. I always paid for my tickets, went to the correct movie.
NR: Yeah, you and I probably wouldn’t have gotten along.
SS: Yeah, I doubt we would have hung out.
NR: I was definitely a bad influence.
SS: So what attracted you to this role?
NR: I feel like this film, the message behind it is just so positive, and that was kind of the motivating factor. And speaking with Greg [Berlanti] beforehand, before we actually started actually working on it, you sort of got to understand the potential of a film like this. It was kind of filling a void, I think, that maybe people didn’t even know needed filling. It was addressing and promoting the journey of coming out of the closet and in a way that was very palatable to audiences, so I think that…it’s kind of subversive in that way. It’s basically defying people’s expectations and I’m excited for people to actually experience it for themselves.
SS: So on a related note, what do you hope audiences take from this film?
NR: I hope they walk away feeling included and represented, and hopefully have gained or shared a perspective that maybe they hadn’t seen before. Again, I think one of the strengths of the film is that it is going down well-worn territory. It’s high school coming of age, but it’s told from this new perspective that most of the time is sort of a cursory character. They’re bringing that person to the forefront, and I think that’s exciting. And it’s time, I think it’s long overdue.
Sierra Stella: What do you hope audiences take away from this film?
Alexandra Shipp: I really want this film to have an impact on the LGBTQ community. I wank kids to know that they’re valued, that they can have love, that they deserve love, that they’re able to have those types of things. Because a lot of the time I think they think, “Oh man, I’m such a weirdo, you know…who’s gonna want me?” and the reality is that someone does, and some one can show you the love that you deserve on this earth. And every human being deserves it.
SS: It’s been so gratifying to be reading these messages [on the wall behind us], and see so many young kids writing “I’m part of the LGBTQ community—”
SS: “—and this movie makes me so happy.”
AS: Isn’t it so great? I think if there was a movie like this when I was growing up I would have been less likely to be honest about who I am and how I love—
SS: You mean more likely?
AS: More likely, yeah, sorry, sorry, sorry.
SS: No problem.
AS: [Sarcastically] “I would be less likely…”
SS: [Laughs] Keep it inside.
AS: [Laughs] This movie would keep me in the closet. No, this movie would have helped me to be more honest with not only myself, but my friends and family, and to know that just because I’m different doesn’t make me any less than anybody else.
SS: So speaking of coming of age films, I think everyone sort of has a coming of age film that they relate to. For me, mine was Ferris Bueller’s Day Off—
AS: Love it.
SS: —which, I’m not at all like Ferris Bueller…But what was your coming of age film growing up that you really connected to?
AS: For some reason it was Grease.
SS: Grease, huh?
AS: It was! It was! Not Grease 2! It was Grease.
SS: Well, of course. Michelle Pfeiffer’s version is a nightmare.
AS: It’s not that great, it’s not that great. Love Michelle, not that movie.
SS: Unfortunate pairing.
AS: It was just, I would run home after school. I don’t know what it was. I loved musicals, I think that definitely had an aspect to it, but there was not very much from this 50s, all-white cast that I could have really taken away from as an individual, but what was really great about it was that it made me happy and it made me feel like I could be apart of it. I wanted to be a Pink Lady. I don’t know, I’d run home after school every day and I’d put this tape in and rewind it—you know, when we had to rewind things just to watch a movie from the beginning. That just meant so much to me as a kid just to be able to watch Grease over and over and over again.
We didn’t get a chance to interview director Greg Berlanti, but we were able to get his take from a Q&A he participated in before the screening of the film. He expressed how this work reflected his experience as a teen, and hopes Love, Simon will give gay teens a voice in a medium where their story rarely gets told.
Love, Simon arrives in theaters on March 16th, but make sure to read our review today to preview a film that has commendable heart and a resounding message.