Julia Stiles and Joseph Gordon-Levitt talk about teensploitation. The rising stars of 10 Things I Hate About You tell EW Online what they think of dumb high school movies
You may know 10 Things I Hate About You star Joseph Gordon-Levitt, 18, as Tommy Solomon, the hormone-charged alien adolescent on NBC's 3rd Rock From the Sun. His costar Julia Stiles, also 18, is a straight-A senior at Manhattan's Professional Children's School and will have been featured in four high-profile projects by the end of this year: the NBC miniseries The '60s; the urban update of Hamlet, costarring Ethan Hawke and Bill Murray; O, a prep-school version of Othello; and Down to You, an Annie Hall homage with Freddie Prinze Jr. Here's what the two rising young stars told EW Online about teen films, including their own.
10 Things is the latest in a wave of teen flicks. What do you think about this teensploitation trend?
Stiles: They're not all bad, but there ARE a lot of dumb teen films out there. With the scripts that come my way, I can sometimes weed out the stupid ones by just their titles. I've already decided it's not a good idea to be in another teen movie.
Gordon-Levitt: I've seen a few of them -- I don't want to name any names -- and they reminded me of executives saying "Hey, let's make a teen movie," so they rush it, throw together a cast and plot, and put it out there as another moneymaking ploy.
If you're not crazy about teen films, why did you do 10 Things?
Gordon-Levitt: I thought it was better written than all the other scripts I'd been handed. It's like the difference between 'N Sync and The Temptations -- they're both male groups that dance, but the Temptations are amazing and 'N Sync sucks.
Stiles: I read the script, fell totally in love with the Kat character, and pushed hard to get the part. It was so refreshing to read a part for a character with a brain. Instead of thinking of Kat as the bitchy shrew, I related to her as a real individual, someone with talent and integrity.
Is there a teen movie that you actually like?
Stiles: '80s movies like The Breakfast Club, which is hilarious but deep.
Gordon-Levitt: Ferris Bueller's Day Off. It doesn't get any better, because they knew how to capture what high schoolers think and how they talk.
Why will audiences like 10 Things?
Stiles: It isn't a gruesome-for-gruesome's-sake horror movie where the girl's biggest goal is to be prom queen or to run around in a towel, but it's also not dark and cynical. It's a funny, romantic movie.
Gordon-Levitt: It's not Citizen Kane, but it's funny without being a stupid comedy. And at least we are all actually teenagers, whereas in these other movies, they have 25- and 30-year-olds playing high school seniors.
What was it like working with a bunch of actors your own age?
Stiles: We weren't of age to go out on the town in Seattle (where the movie was filmed), so we just hung out every night in our hotel rooms talking for hours and hours.
Gordon-Levitt: It was similar to summer camp. There was a sense of camaraderie you don't (often) get. One of the things I took away is how important it is to leave home for college -- to get away from your old environment and reinvent yourself.
Article by Sandra P. Angulo
Originally published at EW Daily - Posted on April 1, 1999