Interview: Shailene Garnett talks about The Dirties, Krissy B. and Bullying
Scene Creek recently had the opportunity to sit down with Canadian actress Shailene Garnett, about her role in Matt Johnson’s upcoming film, The Dirties. Shailene talks with us about her character Krissy B., working with the cast and crew and touches on the sensitive topic of bullying. See Shailene Garnett on Oct. 6th at the TIFF Bell Lightbox for a special Q&A session with the cast and crew following the film.
Shailene Garnett: A high school shooting from the perspective of a bullied student.
SC: This movie parallels the reality of bullying and teen violence, namely school shootings. Considering the sensitivity and controversial nature of the subject, was there ever a point where you felt uneasy?
SG: No. I think I felt more anxiety on the night of the premiere to see how the movie came together than I did during any other time. The subject matter is extremely sensitive and as a result people don’t talk about it as much as they should. If anything, I feel really lucky to be a part of this film; it raises awareness to some really important issues. I think the concept is brilliant. When we hear about school shootings they always regard the shooter as a villain, but this film shows you a different side that we never get to hear about.
SC: What issues, more specifically?
SG: Bullying. The different kinds of bullying – verbal, psychological, physical. We’re told to tell a trusted adult, but more often than not the adults don’t even know what to do.
SC: Who is Krissy B?
SG: Krissy B. is one of the popular girls in school; very confident. She makes her own fun and doesn’t realize that the things she says or doesn’t say ends up hurting people the most. What people don’t know is that Krissy was originally written in as Owen’s bully. She tormented Owen with a lot of sexual innuendos and gestures and constantly went out of her way to make him feel really uncomfortable.
SC: What parallels do you see between yourself and the character? (If there are any differences) How did you get into the mindset to portray the character in those instances, what did you draw from?
SG: Krissy definitely would say and do a lot of things I simply wouldn’t. She doesn’t seem to take notice when she blatantly makes someone feel bad, whereas I’m pretty empathetic. Playing Krissy B. was a lot of fun. Everything I did was under the notion that there were no consequences.
SC: What was going through the mind of your character during the assault in the cafeteria?
SG: The only direction [director Matt Johnson] gave Krista (Chrissy H.) and myself was to record the confrontation on the camera that ‘the Krissies’ (Krissy B. and Chrissy H.) were using to film their class project. We didn’t know exactly what was supposed to happen. The background students didn’t know anything was going to happen. To see how aggressive and superior Jackson (played by Brandon Wickens) was with Owen (Owen Williams) and with that pin-drop silence in a cafeteria full of at least100 students, it was chilling. It was very hard to watch. Unfortunately, not once did it occur to Krissy B. to stand up and say something. That was her friend who was blatantly disrespecting another student and she and Chrissy H. just filmed it. That was an eye opening experience.
SC: What was it like working with the cast? Did any special bonds start to form with co-stars?
SG: It was a great learning experience working with such a talented cast and seeing how everyone prepares for their roles. Overall we all got along really well. Brandon [Wickens] and I actually went on to work on another project together shortly after filming ‘The Dirties’.
SC: When you were working on ‘The Dirties’ did you ever think that it was going to blow up and get the kind of reviews and awards that it has received?
SG: Absolutely not. To be honest, I don’t think any of us did. It was fun to work on, it’s a great concept and it deserves every bit of recognition that it has received so far, but it definitely took us by surprise.
SC: What have you walked away with from this film that you’d like to relay to others?
SG: Bullying is not a joke. I think that everyone needs to claim responsibility for their own actions and become more empathetic. It’s easier to prevent bullying than it is to stop it.
The Dirties opens Friday, October 4, 2013 at TIFF Bell Lightbox. Click here to read our full review.
For more information about The Dirties visit their official website and you can follow Shailene Garnett on Twitter