Melonie Diaz talks about her role in this teen drama and her future projects.
You'll have seen a lot of Melonie Diaz before this year is through. After co-starring alongside Jack Black and Mos Def in Be Kind Rewind, the actress has a number of feature projects that will be released throughout the year such as Hamlet 2, Assassination of a High School President and a few others as well. I recently spoke to Diaz over the phone about another project of hers that has made its way to DVD, Remember the Daze. Here's what this busy and talented actress had to say.
What was your first reaction when you read this script and what drew you to your character, Brianne?
Melonie Diaz: When I first read the script... I actually had to read it twice. I really had no idea what was going on, there were so many characters and so many plotlines that it took me another time to adjust. It's a kind of script, where you read the second time, and go, 'Whoa. This is really interesting.' It's very intricate and cool and all the characters are real people. When I read Brianne, I thought oh wow. She's as ultra-emotional as can be sometimes and moody.
You're just a few years younger than (writer-director) Jess Manafort. Was there a lot about this project that you could relate to in your own high school experience, or was it a lot different?
Melonie Diaz: I had a very specific high school experience. I went to a performance arts school where there were singers and dancers and teachers and all that shit. Also, my high school is really small, so I didn't really experience a high school with that many characters and such a big thing. I think every high school student is trying to figure it out and we're all like, 'What the hell are we doing?' Come senior year, we're all like, 'What's going on?'
So what sorts of things did you do to prepare for this character and get yourself into that sort of mindset?
Melonie Diaz: The main thing that I did is I said, 'OK, I'm going to forget that I have goals and I'm going to forget that I'm an adult.' (Laughs) I'm going to forget that I have all these responsibilities and go on set and simply have fun and enjoy the people that I'm working with and party and laugh. Sometimes when you have all those things that are going on, you forget that you can enjoy yourself and I feel that was really the energy of the set. Everybody was just having a really good time.
I already interviewed Lyndsy (Fonseca) and Wesley (Jonathan) for this and it sounds like it was quite a crazy set. Do you have any favorite memories or stories from that set?
Melonie Diaz: Not really. Everything was just a big old party. I hardly remember.
Yeah, I can imagine. So, Jess is a first-time writer-director. What kind of style does she bring to the story and does she have a style that would compare with anyone else you've worked with before?
Melonie Diaz: I feel like Jess, since she's really young and green, in a lot of ways, I think there's something really beautiful about that because she's just really open to any possibility, any angle, any perspective, whether it be from the DP or from the actor, she's just really cool. She's a really cool girl and in real life she's actually one of my really good girlfriends. We became really good friends and I think that's one of her best qualities, that she allows you to do what you want to do. I mean, she will reign you in if things get too crazy, but she allows you to just go with it.
With that sort of mindset, did the movie turn out a lot different from the original script that she had, or was it still pretty much close to the same with some added elements?
Melonie Diaz: It's pretty much the same. All the same characters were there, all the same situations, but when watching the movie I realized, that music really changed the whole entire movie. I kind of felt like it was a really long, beautiful music video and I feel like that's more what 1999 was about. All these music videos were coming out and MTV was really popular and Remember the Daze really brings you back to that kind of era.
You're just surrounded with these young, really talented actors in this cast with Amber Heard, Alexa Vega, Leighton Meester and Chris Marquette I'm a really big fan of. Did everyone really click when they got on the set and how did you like working with all of them?
Melonie Diaz: Yeah. You know, L.A. and L.A. actors, I just moved to L.A., but most of the L.A. actors, from what I understood, everyone basically knew each other. You see each other at auditions and when I was going on the set, people were already really familiar with each other and I felt we could really talk to each other.
Do you think this sort of movie might be sort of hard for parents to swallow, watching all these kids? Because it really seems like it's rooted in a very real setting.
Melonie Diaz: I don't know. Our parents know. Our parents know what we're doing and if they don't, then that's a problem. I think some parents might think, 'Oh my God! This is strange,' but that's part of life and I think they did it themselves.
You've had quite a diverse career so far. You did smaller movies like Raising Victor Vargas, which I really loved and bigger ones like Be Kind Rewind. Do you have a preference towards bigger or smaller films, or is it just the writing or the project?
Melonie Diaz: It's just the kind of project that it is. It just seems that the majority of the projects I respond to tend to be independent. I feel like the stories are, a lot of the time, are more full and interesting. I just did another studio movie called Humboldt Park, which is coming out next year, Thanksgiving, with Alfred Molina, John Leguizamo, Debra Messing. I don't know. I actually don't know where my career is going, or going to go, you know? The options are endless.
Can you talk any more about Humboldt Park, or you have a bunch of other ones coming out like Hamlet 2, Assassination of a High School President, Identity. Is there anything you can tell us about those?
Melonie Diaz:Assassination of a High School President is coming out in September, Hamlet 2 is coming out in August. They're all really different, really different kinds of movies that are going to respond to different people. Humboldt Park I'm really excited about. Actually, I did want to talk about American Son, which was picked up at Sundance this year. Miramax picked it up for a DVD release but it's not going to come out in theaters. It's a war movie and it's really sad. It's Nick Cannon and I and Tom Sizemore and Chi McBride. It's a really beautiful movie. It's going to be at the L.A. Film Festival, so you should try to catch it. Then, Humboldt Park is cool. It's Freddy Rodriguez, Alfred Molina, Debra Messing. It's like a Latin version of Soul Food. It's really funny. It has Alfred Molina, so it has to be good.
Finally, Remember the Daze didn't get a huge theatrical release, but not it's available on DVD. How do you think audiences, young and old alike, will respond to this movie?
Melonie Diaz: I think this movie will do really really well on DVD. I think that times are changing and not many people go to the movies a lot, which I find really weird because I go to movies all the time. I think the generation this movie will respond to is the generation that stays home at night with their friends and make popcorn and rent movies. I really think they'll enjoy it.
Well, that's about all I have for you, Melonie. Thanks a lot for your time and I can't wait to see all of your upcoming projects. They all seem really interesting.
Melonie Diaz: Thank you!
Remember the Daze can be found on DVD shelves now.