Mae Whitman plays supporting character Mary Elizabeth in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and when I visited the set of the movie last Summer, I chatted with her along with a few other reporters. Whitman talked about what she likes so much about her alternative-culture-loving character, who runs a fanzine — which led Whitman to talk about her own personal pop culture obsession: Harry Potter. Since she stars in Perks with Harry Potter franchise star Emma Watson, Whitman had some cute things to say about working with her, and how life on a movie set is different than her usual routine in the TV show Parenthood.
Why did you want to play Mary Elizabeth?
MW: I wanted to play Mary Elizabeth because to me, in every aspect, she's one of the most interesting characters. In the book [and] the script, she has an incredible story arc, and I feel like she's one of the more tragic — but also in the end, perfectly well-off — characters. I think she really goes through a change of finding herself and being OK with certain things. She has so many extremes, and I think she really is able to find a balance through going through a relationship with Charlie, and then being so hurt, and having to come into being OK with who she is on her own, and finding somebody that actually cares about her, and not just letting her flood gates open on somebody that's not into her. And besides that, she definitely has the coolest wardrobe: she has the coolest makeup. I mean, amazing stuff. You know, I think they all kind of got really excited with my character 'cause they could do whatever they wanted. [Laughs] So, we have some really interesting looks.
In the book, Mary Elizabeth makes a fanzine. If you were to make a fanzine, what would it be about?
MW: Is it taboo to say Harry Potter? That’s definitely one of the things I’m the biggest fan of. Or like, Lord of the Rings or comic books. Yeah, I guess it would be either that or food. Just food in general. The two things I love the most are Harry Potter and food.
So did you freak out then, when you found out Emma Watson was your costar?
MW: Yeah. I was so excited. I've read every [Harry Potter] book, like gotten them at midnight when they came out, and dressed up. I mean, it was definitely a big deal. I slowly release tidbits to her about how excited I am, but I don't want to let it all come at once. I think she'd get a restraining order or something.
To read the rest of our interview with Whitman, just keep reading.