For better or worse, everyone remembers their high school prom. And with prom season just around the corner, Disney's new movie 'Prom' features a group of teenagers gearing up for the big dance -- only this time, that doesn't mean a choreographed musical number.
In 'Prom,' director Joe Nussbaum follows several intersecting stories as the big day approaches, replete with all the swirling emotions the ensemble cast of high schoolers face along the way. 'Friday Night Lights' hottie Aimee Teegarden stars as Nova, the class president and prom committee chair, as she attempts to ensure the night goes off without a hitch. But as the elaborate prom-posals mount, Nova's still waiting for Brandon (Jonathan Keltz), her perfect guy -- or so she thinks -- to ask her to the dance. And then there's Lloyd (Nicholas Braun), who goes all out trying to find a date, despite having barely talked to any of the girls he asks.
With the movie opening this Friday, Teegarden, Braun and Keltz recently sat down with Moviefone to talk about their own prom experiences, reliving their high school days, and why the set felt like summer camp.
Moviefone: What were your high school experiences like? Did you guys go to prom?
Nicholas Braun: I went to three of them, actually. I went to three proms. They were all really fun, they were all very different. One of them, I went with this girl I thought I was going to date. Beautiful girl, we got along really well -- I thought.
Aimee Teegarden: Aw, that's so sweet. Thanks, Nick.
Braun: Her name wasn't Aimee. Definitely not. [Laughs] I don't think you would have done this to me. She turned away from me and started making out with another dude. I know, pretty terrible. And that was that. Not a fun one. Heartbreak.
Teegarden: My prom was good. It was tons of fun. We danced and laughed, and had a good time. It was at the House of Blues in Anaheim.
Jonathan Keltz: Yeah, I had a fun high school experience. We had a big old prom, we had 400 kids in the graduating class and everything. It was a fun night. I enjoyed the limo ride there the most. Me and a couple friends riding with their dates, everyone was all dressed up, and I was into it, the energy and the anticipation of that entire experience. That was before it felt like time was always running out.
So were you able to relate to your characters then? Nick, it sounds like you had a slightly different prom experience than your character Lloyd.
Keltz: And he was asked all three times too!
Braun: I was. I was asked all three times to prom. I should've asked the girls. But it's always easier to be asked. So I can relate to Lloyd. I relate to the fact that the three years before, Lloyd basically never thought it was the right time to step up, to make his move. And I feel like I shied away from making the move a lot of times. So I think I channeled that part of me, that sort of bashful, fearful side and got to act against it as Lloyd.
Teegarden: In terms of my character Nova, I could relate to her passion, her drive. But I was never in charge of planning my prom or anything like that. I was not that involved in extra-curriculars in the sense of prom committee or school council or stuff like that.
Keltz: There's definitely aspects of Brandon that I relate to. I certainly have the problem of focusing on doing everything now to get where I want to be, and not actually seeing and taking in and appreciating what's right in front of me, or who's right in front of me.
Did you do any special preparation for your roles, to get back into that high school mindset?
Braun: I went out and got rejected a lot. Oh wait, that's my life. [Laughs]
Keltz: [Laughs] That would've been good.
Braun: Just kidding, no. That would've been good preparation, though. I should've gone out and just asked strangers out. Like gone to the mall and asked strangers to go to prom, or go to Jamba Juice with me. No, I didn't do much. I watched 'Say Anything.' Katie Wech, the writer, channeled John Cusack's Lloyd Dobler, and I'm called Lloyd for that reason.
Teegarden: Yeah, like Nick said, they had us watch a lot of movies like 'Say Anything,' 'Pretty in Pink' and 'Breakfast Club.' And a lot of the younger cast members had never seen them, so that was kind of cool. So you know, watching movies, not just to say we saw them, just getting a real grasp of what we were shooting. But I don't know, I almost feel like I'm still about 14. [Laughs] So going back to high school, I don't know if that was necessary.
Keltz: It's interesting. As an actor, you get to sort of bounce back and forth in terms of the age range you play and the life experience that your characters have. And what's fun [about playing younger] is you get to sort of relive the dream of what could've been. You get to do it again that way or bring that to it. And so I think, as well as watching those movies, just reflecting on what could've been for you, and bringing as much of that personal history and relationship to it as well.
You had a fairly large, but young ensemble cast. There aren't too many adults in 'Prom.' Is it different working with people around your age?
Braun: Yeah, it was different. What was different about it was that a lot of them hadn't done anything before. A lot of them were undiscovered, untapped.
Keltz: All of a sudden we were the vets. And it was like, "When did this happen? Nobody told me." [Laughs]
Braun: Yeah, it was really cool to watch. They were excited by every aspect of the process of making a movie, they'd never seen it before. And Nolan [Sotillo], for one, he came up to me on the first day and he's like, "Hey, were you in the 'Princess Protection Program'?" A movie I did. So it's like ... it's such a dream that's happening to him, it's come true in front of us, and it was nice to watch.
Teegarden: I think working with the younger cast, I'm so used to working with a lot of older cast members who play younger. Like 30-year-olds, and I was always the 16-year-old tag-along. So acting with people my own age was a new experience for me. It was fun! It was cool to just be able to be a goofball off-set, and go after work to go hang out, and go to dinner with [co-stars]. The 'Prom' family sort of is a family, you always have someone to talk to. It's like a very, very big family with lots of sisters and brothers.
So the chemistry was good on set? Did people hang around even when they weren't filming their scenes?
Teegarden: Yeah, people would come to get lunch. Nick Braun being one of them.
Braun: Did I do that? I did some free meal stuff? Yeah, I really did some free meal stuff -- I mean, hang out at the set stuff.
Teegarden: Nick Braun was there every single day. There were a good five people who would show up every day. Supposedly it was for the cast, but a lot of the cast members only worked 1 or 2 days a week or something like that, and they would just go for lunch, a free lunch. [Laughs]
Braun: It was kind of like summer camp. There were a lot of kids, and their parents would drop them off in the morning, and we'd hang out. At one point, every lunch or something, we were playing sports. It just felt like we were on recess. [Laughs] There was a summer school, summer day camp kind of vibe about it.
Keltz: Yeah, the thing that was great about it, was the producers, the director, the writer, everyone on down through the cast and the crew, everybody had that collaborative fun energy. Everyone was committed and ready to show up and work and play and have fun. It wasn't about the bottom line, it wasn't about anything but us exploring this [story] and having fun.
So no cliques formed based on who was in which storyline or anything like that?
Keltz: No, I mean, you mainly work with the people that you work with. All my stuff is with Aimee and the prom committee. But even though Nick and I don't have any scenes together, we still have become good buddies and hung out and stuff since, because of the movie.
Were you given any freedom to develop your characters, to make them feel more realistic?
Keltz: I think in terms of the person who had the most improvisational freedom would be our man Nick Braun over here. But there was freedom absolutely in terms of the interpretations of the characters and the collaborative effort to find out who these kids were, and how they all fit together.
Braun: Yeah, I did get to improv a bunch. [And] I did do a little bit of forming of Lloyd after I got the role. I wanted to make sure that it was a believable character. Is it believable that the guy never kissed a girl, never had a girlfriend in high school? It's a very particular type of guy. So I wanted to make sure it is believable. How do you blend in if you're 6'6''? Are you ostracized, are you made fun of? So there were a lot of things that went into making him more, he's not just a guy who asks girls out.
Teegarden: And then with Nova, I really wanted to make her that kind of Type A personality, I wanted her to be very believable and very relatable to the girls out there. I feel like a lot of times when you try to portray it as that over-the-top, preppy whatever, it sometimes comes across as sort of bitchy, snotty, thinks-she's-better-than-everyone type of person. Nova's nothing like that. My hope is that girls can walk into it and feel like, "Hey, that was like me in high school."
'Prom' opens in theaters on Friday, April 29.