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Look out for more coverage of
Charlie Bartlett in our magazines

THE MOVIE: Charlie Bartlett

THE STARS:
Anton Yelchin • Robert Downey Jr • Hope Davis •
DIRECTOR: Jon Poll

Anton Yelchin and Robert Downey Jr THE CONCEPT:
An optimist and fearless schemer, Charlie Bartlett, has slyly positioned himself as his new high school’s resident ‘psychiatrist,’ dishing out honest advice and powerful prescriptions, having no idea the ways in which he will transform his classmates, the school principal (Downey Jr) and the potential of his own life.

U.S. RELEASE: February 22 2008, Nationwide
• Rated: R

THE COMMENTS:

JON POLL:
“I had the good fortune of meeting Anton Yelchin about six months before we went into production. I had no idea who to cast in this movie. I had seen Anton in House of D, and was truly amazed, and actually went and bugged Jay Roach [the producer of the movie] the next morning and said, ‘You have to see this scene from House of D.’ Anton was so real, so charming, so funny all at once. That’s what we needed for Charlie. Anton and I met for dinner and I asked him what he liked about Charlie Bartlett, and the first words out of his mouth were how honest and optimistic the character was, and I said, ‘You get to be Charlie Bartlett.’”

ANTON YELCHIN:
“What I really liked about Charlie was his optimism and the honesty of him because, though I’m honest I’m not very optimistic most of the time. I thought it was a really great way to approach life. Whether I could approach life similarly was a different question, but I thought it would be really interesting to look into that and explore that. He is an incredible person to be able to get into his head.”

POLL on casting Robert Downey Jr. as the Principal Gardner:
“We heard Robert liked the script, and I was told to get on the phone and talk him into being in the movie. The first thing I said to him was, ‘Do you realize that twenty years ago Charlie Bartlett would have been you?’ He just laughed and said, ‘Yes, very much.’ One of the first things he said was that he knew the film was about another character and that he was there to support that character. He said, ‘I know how to fit into the movie.’ He was very brave about dealing with issues of his own and how they are reflected back through the film. It was actually great having him on set, I think every actor of every age truly enjoyed being around him.”

YELCHIN:
“It was really incredible to work with Robert. It was one of the first experiences that I have had where I would consciously sit and learn from someone. When I was young I would work with people and I would obviously be learning from them, but it would be an afterthought. Once I had finished I would realize what I had gotten. With Robert I would sit and watch him in utter amazement because of his range. His understanding of the freedom he has as an actor is so eye opening to the amount of things you can do, and just the freedom you have within the confines of the story and the scene. Watching him experiment with what he wanted to do, and then finding the right thing to do, was so incredible. I loved being off-camera watching him work, because he is like no other actor out there. Robert is in his own category of actor, with the way he approaches the character that he does, the way he uses his body; it was incredible to learn from him.”

JAY ROACH (Producer):
“I think one of the most amazing things about casting him is that it’s not the obvious choice to have Robert Downey Jr. play the principal, but he is clearly a principal with issues, and is struggling trying to cope being a father. I think this is one of those kinds of films that depict a great teen character. I hope kids see someone speaking with an authentic version of that voice, and how kids cope. But it is also about how parents cope with kids when they don’t really understand them. It is a cautionary tale in a way to be careful, it is so quick and easy to become distant from what kids are going through.”

Written by Judy Sloane. Back to top

Visit the official Charlie Bartlett site
Images above © Sidney Kimmel Entertainment and MGM
Feature © 2008 Visual Imagination.
Not for reproduction.

Film Review, #694, April 2008 cover

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