This January 12, the film adaptation of the hit musical Cher Evan Hansen arrives in our cinemas. AlloCiné was able to meet with the main actors and the director of the film.
Worn by Ben Platt, who already played the main role of the Broadway musical of the same name for which he was also awarded a Tony Award for best actor, Dear Evan Hansen’s hero is a 17-year-old high school student who suffers from social anxiety disorder.
The director Stephen Chbosky (The World of Charlie, Wonder) did not hesitate a single second before offering the role to Ben Platt. “He won the Tony Award, Emmy, and Grammy for that role so it gave him a slight edge. But yeah for me there was no choice it was his role since the very first read and it’s fit for a Broadway legend what he did with this character”, He told us.
From stage to screen
“I think the challenge was to balance on one side, the instincts and memories I had of the play and all the basics of the character I had created (…) and to allow myself to m ” to use it, but at the same time, to try to make the performance a little more realistic, to make it a little more interior, a little more natural, more human, less theatrical”, Tells the interpreter of Evan about the transition between stage and cinema.
And the director added: “The biggest challenge was trying to transform the experience we’ve all had of watching the play where you are with thousands of people experiencing it live, finding a way to capture that feeling. We did it in several ways, the most notable is having filmed the songs live: when you see Ben Platt and all the rest of the cast singing, they really do it in these rooms, these hallways which gives a real authenticity to the film.”
For Amandla Stenberg, who plays Alana Beck, a classmate of Evan also suffering from anxiety despite appearances, the challenge was even greater, because she has never illustrated herself on Broadway.
I am not a professional singer.
“It was definitely stressful because the musical is loved so much and so is the character and there have been a lot of talented people playing that character. Also, I’m not from the Broadway world, I’m not a professional singer. So I was very nervous to come up with my level hoping that I fit into the world of Dear Evan Hansen but it was an incredible challenge”, She recalls.
Performing in an adaptation of such a popular musical was an honor for Julianne Moore, who plays the hero’s mother. She says: “It’s a challenge because you want to be at the service of the adaptation and that is all it was on stage. I was a huge fan of the musical which moved me incredibly.
I saw it as soon as it started playing on Broadway because I live in New York and I loved it. So when you suddenly find yourself in it you want to be sure you’re doing the best you can because it’s such wonderful material and I felt so lucky to be involved.”
Amy Adams, too, was happy to be part of the adaptation of a musical that she says speaks “of connections and our need to feel seen but also to see others, which is part of the human experience”.
“I felt so lucky to be a part of it. (…) It was so moving for me, even I felt myself seen, when I am a woman of 45 years old, watching [la pièce]. It’s wonderfully well written and wonderfully well performed on stage”, Remembers the one who plays the mother of the young boy whose death launches the intrigue.
Mental health at the heart of the film
When Evan’s classmate commits suicide, the teenager finds himself in the center of the turmoil. In a misguided attempt to comfort the grieving family, Evan claims he was best friends with the deceased. For Ben Platt, Dear Evan Hansen therefore speaks “that everyone needs connections”.
“It doesn’t matter how you present yourself or how you are seen, whether you’re someone who is obviously lonely or struggling – like Evan who’s weird, can’t seem to articulate an entire sentence, who looks at his feet and pulls on his sleeves and who is a person who has difficulty building relationships -, [ou que tu sois quelqu’un comme] Alana, who is beautiful, outgoing, smart and tries to surpass herself or Zoey who is cool, laid back and nonchalant, [tout le monde] needs connections”, Specifies the actor.
No matter what you’ve been through, you are not alone.
And to insist: “I think the movie pushes to remember that no matter how we view people or judge them by our first impression, everyone has internal struggles and everyone wants to feel seen, heard and seen. understood. And we have the possibility of doing it for each of us if we are ready to expose ourselves.”
What Stephen Chbosky confirms: “Dear Evan Hansen is a movie that says that no matter what you’ve been through, whether it’s depression, anxiety or some other trauma, no matter your family situation or your private life, you are not alone. And that if you have the strength to be yourself, you will be richly rewarded but also that telling the truth about yourself and yourself is always a good thing.”
“For me I think this movie is about the universal human experience”, Says Amandla Stenberg before continuing:“Our capitalist society is not made in a way that allows us to prioritize our well-being, especially our mental health, which we do not give enough weight to, unlike physical health even though it is just as important. important.”
Then to conclude: “And so the film breaks down some of those walls that prevent us from having these conversations and recognizing that mental illnesses like depression or anxiety or whatever are universal experiences and that many more people than ‘you don’t think they are victims. We are not alone in these feelings and it is important and normal to talk about them.”
The perfect film in this time of Covid?
Moreover, for the director, Cher Evan Hansen could help viewers who are struggling to cope with the pandemic that is currently affecting the entire planet: “We have all been through this terrible ordeal globally and I think the isolation that people felt during the pandemic and the depression and anxiety that was exacerbated by it, the film speaks directly to that: screens and loneliness. But also the strength and the great joy that you feel when you overcome that so I think the film is a perfect antidote for the time.”
Interview by Roxanna Bina in Los Angeles in August 2021.