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Portia Doubleday on Youth in Revolt

Published January 5, 2010 in Movie Interviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of Columbia Pictures
Youth in Revolt PosterYouth in Revolt
In Youth in Revolt, Sheeni Saunders is the dream girl so enticing that she inspires Nick Twisp (Michael Cera) to create a whole bad boy alter ego to impress her. Newcomer Portia Doubleday plays Sheeni, quite a daunting task to be the ultimate dream girl.

Doubleday Inspires Youth in Revolt


“I guess I don’t approach it from thinking about it that way because it can be a little bit overwhelming,” Doubleday said. “But, it’s hard not to fall in love with a girl that’s like that. When I read it, I was just smitten. Who wouldn’t want to play this? Especially for a girl that’s reading that kind of character and being really confident and having someone chase after you, getting to be a little bit manipulative and remain with the façade of being somewhat sweet and I don't know. It was definitely fun and amazing when I read it. I had butterflies.”

Nick meets Sheeni at her trailer park home over a family vacation, but she’s no typical trailer park girl. With interests in French new wave cinema, this ain’t My Name is Earl.

“When I got to set, even before that, the tone of the book and even the wardrobe and the things that Sheeni is interested in are so atypical,” she said. “So it was more like I didn’t think I could fall into that slot with the whole trailer extension. I think that’s representative of how it’s different. Like a trailer with a second story and just Sheeni’s interests were like no other teen I’ve spoken to, certainly not mine. I’m envious of those.’”



Now Doubleday is a fan herself. “Godard’s for sure. Oh my God, brilliant, brilliant. I watched Pierrot le Fou and that was really big for me. I watched that every single day in my trailer, parts from it. I remember rewinding 25 times watching this one scene and of course I fell in love with Belmondo. How can you not? Gosh, man. Anyway, I watched this documentary after talking about how he worked and how he came up with the dialogue as he was coming to set and how he would shout out lines to them that could be completely absurd. Yeah, I fell in love with those movies. They’re amazing. And Breathless, my favorite moment in the mirror, when she’s looking in the mirror. Just those really odd amazing moments that stick in your mind. I’m going to have that moment probably for the rest of my life stuck in my head.”

The books on which Youth in Revolt are based were a big inspiration to Doubleday as well. “I hadn’t read them but it was funny because I called my friends and they had written assignments on it in high school. So it was kind of that book you got to get away with because you got to pick one of your summer reads. It’s really articulate and intelligent enough for you to get away with it, even though it has a lot of really terrible things in the book that happen. I read it before we started filming but I hadn’t read it previously. My friends had all read it in high school, so their commentary was fun.”

The only difference is, Sheeni might be a little more sympathetic in the movie. “We did some reshoots and I think it’s hard because even when I was reading for it, usually when you’re reading a book, or at least when I’m reading a book, I’m rooting for the main character. In some way you kind of always put yourself in those situations and those positions. And I was like, ‘Oh, God. If I was one of Nick’s friends, I’d be like, “Dump this girl. What are you doing? She is a snob. Who cares?”’ It was hard. That was a really fine line of being too bitchy and too detached to having some kind of appeal. I understand sexuality with boys and appearances but there’s so much more than that. So we did do some reshoots that tried to incorporate this character’s vulnerability. She really needs to get out of this lifestyle. That is more of a driving force instead of it just being her individual journey to Paris and him joining. It became more bonded between the characters.”

Youth in Revolt opens to theaters on January 8th.

For the trailers, posters and more movie info, go to the Youth in Revolt Movie Page.

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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of Columbia Pictures
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