Remember when Emma Roberts came onto the scene back in the mid aughts, starring in Aquamarine, Nancy Drew, and Hotel for Dogs? And then, in 2010, there were her roles as the virgin teenage babysitter in 2010’s ensemble film Valentine’s Day and as a clinically depressed teenager in It’s Kind of a Funny Story. In 2011, she appeared in the fourth installment of the Scream film horror series and, last year, we saw her alongside Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg in the 2012 rom com Celeste & Jesse Forever, as teen poptart princess Riley Banks. If Roberts seems to wants to prove anything, its that she cannot be typecast. And her latest role as an aspiring poet working in a sex shop certainly shows the young actor’s versatility.
Adult World premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival last week. The film (directed by Scott Coffey) is the story of Amy (Roberts), a recent college grad, broke and living in upstate New York, dreaming of becoming a poet. To make ends meet, Amy begins working at a sex shop where she develops relationships with her coworkers: an elderly couple with a tendency for PDA, a transvestite, and boy-next-door Alex (Evan Peters). While Amy seeks out the mentorship of the reclusive poet Rat Billings (John Cusack), she stumbles into awkward scenarios—she dresses up like a hooker in one scene—and finds herself developing a relationship with Alex. How adorably appropriate given that Roberts and Peters are rumored to be dating in real life.
But back to the hooker scene. In most of the film, Amy’s wardrobe is composed of vintage apparel from Roberts’ own closet. At a press day at Babyliss Pro Arts & Cinema Studio in New York’s historic Meatpacking District, Roberts told us that the majority of the jeans (Rag & Bone and Current/Elliott) and boots (Fiorentini + Baker) in the film are her own because they were "perfectly worn-in." She adds, "I went through my closet and had a day when I picked all of the stuff that I thought Amy would wear and I brought it to the costumer.” One outfit that didn’t belong to Roberts: her prostitute ensemble, which featured a black lace camisole, gold bow tie necklace, and a hefty layering of dark eye makeup with deep red lips. "I think a part of me blocked it out a little bit because it was so ridiculous," says Roberts. "I think we all have those moments when you have so much in your mind of what sexy is supposed to be and then you try to do that and it never ends up being sexy…I think every girl has had that moment of I’m going to be this kind of girl and it just doesn’t go well.”
One thing’s for sure: we could all take some style cues from Roberts’ off-screen style. At this year’s Coachella, she looked stylish in black leather shorts, a white tee knotted at the waist, and a pair of heart-shaped sunglasses. A standard outfit for the actor is similar: skinny jeans or jean shorts with sky-high heels and oversized shades. The red carpet is a whole other ballgame. Roberts often opts for sleek and feminine gowns in solid colors, minimal accessories, and a small clutch by her side. One of our faves: this Yves Saint Laurent bodysuit at the Met’s premiere of Manon last year (pictured above).
And speaking of favorites, of Adult World, which took just over 20 days to shoot, Roberts says, "This was one of my favorite movies I got to work on because it really meant a lot to me and I was going through a lot of the crisis that Amy was going through," says Roberts. "It was kind of cool to have that moment captured on film.”
Roberts saw the final cut for the first time last week at the festival and expresses her hope that the film’s message resonates with her audience. "It really shows someone not having a plan b and kind of having to come up with one and having to think quick when things don’t go your way," she says. The 22-year-old actor says she’s finally old enough to understand this for herself. "You feel like an adult your whole life," she says, "and then you actually are in the real world and you’re like: where’s my mom? Oh, I have to go buy my own paper towels. This sucks.”
With television shows like Girls and 2 Broke Girls, Adult World is not the first attempt by filmmakers to capture the culture of down and out artistically-minded young adults. “I feel like I come from a generation of girls and boys where everyone wants to be doing creative things and no one thinks that they’re not the best," says Roberts, twirling her softly-curled side ponytail with an index finger.
Future projects for Roberts are already in the works—she just finished filming the pilot for Fox’s new television adaptation of Lauren Oliver’s book, Delirium. “It takes place in a utopia and, basically, the world is cured of love," says Roberts. "When you turn 18, you get cured of delirium, which is love, and the government kind of runs your whole life. My character falls in love right before she gets cured and she runs off.” Nothing about that sounds utopian to me, but I’m excited to see it nonetheless. Roberts also says, "I’m really into action movies lately, so hopefully I’ll get to do one soon.” When that happens, we’ll be watching!
Photo Credit: Fairchild Archive
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