So … according to the movie That Awkward Moment, there’s this point in a relationship called “The So” during which someone turns to you and says, “So …” and follows it up by asking a relationship defining question like, “Where is this going” or “What are we doing?” That absolutely can be an uncomfortable scenario, but for ladies who really know how to pick them, like Imogen Poot’s Ellie, the awkwardness doesn’t stop there. In That Awkward Moment, Zac Efron, Miles Teller and Michael B. Jordan play a trio of friends who make a pact to indulge in the single life together to help take Mikey’s mind off his divorce. However, shortly after making that pact, Jason spots Ellie. He may initially peg her as yet another brief fling, but soon realizes he can’t tear himself away. No one has ever had this effect on him and he’s determined to learn more – even if it means making quite a few awkward mistakes in the process.
In honor of That Awkward Moment’s January 31st release, Poots hit the New York City press circuit and sat down with Collider to reveal which of her co-stars held doors for her, the one who’s most like his character and who can turn on the charm via improvisation. Read about all of that as well as Poots’ least favorite pickup line, the key to Gramercy Park, her excitement to work with Josh Boone on his upcoming feature, Pretenders, and loads more in the interview below.
IMOGEN POOTS: I actually missed that, too. I didn’t really ever see any of them, so meeting Zac, for me, was like a clean slate. I met him for the first time when we did a movie called Me and Orson Welles and I did a very small scene in that, and I just thought he was the bee’s knees so this was exciting.
How about working with all three guys? They’ve got massive on-screen personas so when you’re performing with them, do you feel the need to step up your game?
POOTS: Well, they’re definitely big personalities, but I think it was more [that] I never felt like there was so much bro-y situations going on. They were very kind and sweet guys. It was a lot of fun. In fact, to the extent that, when we made the film, you don’t remember that you’re actually doing a job. You’re actually making a film even though you’re hanging out the whole time. But I never felt any sort of segregation because I was “the girl” in the movie, or Mackenzie [Davis] was the girl in the movie, anything like that. We both kind of were like, ‘Well, this is kind of hilarious. It’s just people hanging out.’
I noticed Miles picking on Mike a little bit at the press conference. Do you think they went easier on you because you were the sole female in the group?
POOTS: Oh, yeah! I think they have to be. I think [writer-director] Tom [Gormican] would scold them. But I kind of love that. I love watching their dynamic. I love the fact that Miles will take the piss out of Zac and Mike, and they all take the piss out of each other because they can and I think that’s part of who they are and how they exist together as a trio.
Is there any one special thing that you shared with each of them?
POOTS: Yeah, for sure! I keep talking about them like they’re this three-way bulk of man – or boy. [Laughs] Well, Mike, certainly I found that he’s so gentle, his manners are extraordinary. Several times I’d see him running towards me in the mornings to open trailer doors. Everyone, all the women on set loved him. Everyone was like, ‘You should just marry Michael!’ And then Miles cracks me up most. I think he’s so funny in a very subtle way, but he’s also very sweet. And Zac is just a total sweetheart and so kind. I think they all offer something different. But what I loved the most was when I saw the film back for the first time, it was so funny to me obviously knowing them and then seeing these performances they were doing and maybe playing against type or playing into type. I think Miles’ character is pretty close to him, so that was kind of funny seeing that happen.
How about working with them as actors? I imagine you’ve got your own process and so do they; is there anything you had to do to adjust to them?
POOTS: No, I think we all came with a very open mind and everyone was up for improvising and our director encouraged that, too. But we also respected the fact that there was a solid screenplay there and there was real clarity with that. It’s important that improvisation doesn’t become this indulgent thing of who can say the funniest thing. It’s actually about, let’s create something important and let’s say something in this scene. I think that was always the goal with everyone, but we were lucky, too, because we had time prior to the shoot where we could rehearse and play around and understand how it was going to work on set.
Is there anything you’re particularly proud of that you came up with on set and on the spot like that?
POOTS: I feel like a lot of my scenes were more dramatic than what the boys had going on, so it’d be odd if I sort of cracked a joke about my character’s dad dying or something really macabre [laughs]. But I would say for sure, my stuff in the movie is possibly more linear and there wasn’t necessarily a need to do that.
Did any of them do it to you and catch you by surprise?
POOTS: There was something Zac did that was very funny when we were filming around Gramercy Park. We were walking and they were about to have a conversation, and he said, ‘Guess what I stole!’ And I was like, ‘What?’ And he’s like, ‘Kisses!’ He kissed me and then ran off and I was like, ‘That’s really funny! And, god, I’ve got nothing!’ I don’t think it’s in the movie, is it? That was a funny moment. I probably turned to the camera and was like, ‘Ah! I don’t know what to say!’
You know you’re going to inspire a lot of New Yorkers to take a tour of those homes just to steal a key to Gramercy Park! Is that legitimately how it works?
POOTS: Well, I do know that we shot around Gramercy Park and we were allowed to open the door, but we couldn’t go into the actual park. And even when we were filming in Gramercy, how do you pronounce the name of it? East Village. Stufzlyizent Park? It begins with an S, S-T-U …
This movie makes me want to go in it.
POOTS: Yeah, I know. Just break in!
If I’m not back to cover your next movie, that’s what happened.
POOTS: “I saw it in the movie! It’s fine!”
Actually, that’s a good segue because everyone keeps talking about how this movie is an authentic representation of the guy’s perspective. But what’s your perspective? Are these guys dateable?
POOTS: Oh, for sure! As a troop there’s safety in numbers. There’s this false sense of security in the concept that dating or going out with somebody or having a relationship with somebody, ‘Let’s do that later. Let’s have fun now,’ but it’s like, ‘Well, what does your fun mean?’ If you’re gonna negate the idea of hanging out with one, sole other person or however you’re gonna do it, how do you not know that that’s gonna be a superior or incredible time of your life in the sense of fun? And again, I think from Ellie’s perspective, what excited me about it was she’s very much just doing her own thing and it doesn’t seem like she’s very distracted or susceptible. She’s not vacillating between one thing or the other because of what her friends are saying. She’s just like, ‘I want to date [him]. If you’re gonna be weird about it and you’re not gonna be there for me, then see you later.’ It’s not a problem, it’s sad, but I’m not gonna freak out about it, and I think that in itself, that sort of strength that she has is something that makes Jason realize that he could lose something really special. I do feel that Ellie was a really fleshed out role in that sense and that was exciting. But at the same time, a movie like this, you can’t say, ‘Yeah! The women are very much 50% of it.’ They are in the sense of the concept behind it, but the characters, it’s like, no, this is a story of three friends and I believe I play an important role in it in terms of the formula of what the movie is, but actually you can’t deny that it’s just all these ingredients together; that’s what creates the movie.
POOTS: Right. One of the things that I liked the most about it was it’s really important how when you meet somebody and you fall for them and you think, ‘Oh no! I shouldn’t fall for them. I’m not this type of person.’ Or your friends are like, ‘Well, we didn’t like his guy.’ Well, you have to know for yourself and no one else can really dictate that and I think the movie also shows that, the sense that he’s made a decision that he’s gonna give this relationship a go. It takes a while to come to that conclusion, but he does come to that conclusion, which is a good thing. So I think it’s an important commentary on the youth of today or people in their 20s.
Did you ever develop Ellie’s dating history? I was thinking that her past experiences could have influenced how she handles Jason in the movie.
POOTS: What, that she’s just a total whore? [Laughs]
You never know!
POOTS: Exactly! You never know. Maybe this is her shaping up. I don’t think she’s ever played it safe. I think she’s probably the type of person who’d find a lot of guys pretty boring. And I think she’s never dated anyone like Jason before. I think she’s going against type just as much as he is, and I think that’s intriguing to her because the first time they meet, it’s kind of electric. He makes her laugh and I think that’s the key to anything. If someone can crack you up in a bar scenario, especially considering the guy she was talking to before.
What’s the most awkward way someone ever approached you?
POOTS: Oh, there have been a number. Just like insane eye contact, and you’re just like, ‘Wow! Why don’t you just talk? What’s happening?’ There have also been numerous, awful attempts at lines. I wish I could think of a really good one. Oh! There’s a whole thing like, ‘You dropped your smile.’ And you’re just like, ‘I’m having a f*cking bad day!’ People who say that, I can’t stand it. It’s never not gonna be awkward approaching somebody. I think it’s always gonna be like, you’re gonna sidle up and be like, ‘Hey!’ I don’t know if that gets easier.
If it’s not awkward for someone, it probably means they don’t care enough.
POOTS: Yeah! Or they’re just a douchebag and they do it all the time.
That could be true, too! So That Awkward Moment could refer to “The So,” but what about for you? Is there any point in a relationship that you’d deem an especially awkward time?
POOTS: I think any relationship that is normal – I mean, there’s no normal relationship, but in terms of a flawed relationship, there’s always gonna be awkward moments within that because you’re addressing things that the world is throwing at you, whether that’s distance or whether that’s where this is going or other people and past relationships, all these factors. I don’t think anything’s ever simple. Everyone’s just trying to understand each other and whether that’s because you’re in a relationship or because you’re meeting their friends or because their meeting your brother or whatever it is, nothing like that is ever smooth running.
You ever think you’d be doubling as a relationship advisor? People might really take this stuff to heart!
POOTS: They probably will, wouldn’t they? Oh, jeez! Okay, do not take any of this to heart. [Laughs] I really don’t know. I mean, yeah, that’s another thing. People have been asking, ‘What’s your dating advice?’ I was just like, ‘I’ve got nothing!’ Seriously, I don’t think there’s any right way to do anything apart from if you’re just being you then it’s a sincere situation.
So now to touch on some upcoming projects, I’ve got my eye on Josh Boone.
POOTS: Oh! He’s one of my best friends! He’s amazing!
What’s up with Pretenders? Are you shooting that?
POOTS: God, I’m so thrilled you brought this up! He is the best. We met a couple years ago and bonded over – do you know Voxtrot? The band Voxtrot?
POOTS: They’re terrific. There’s a song called “The Start of Something,” and they’re so good. They kind of sound like Morrissey-esque.
What kind of music is it?
POOTS: It feels like 80s, melancholy pop. [Laughs]
You sell it well! I might have to check it out.
POOTS: Yeah! But we bonded and he – oh gosh, I bet you guys would get along so well. He’s so great. He’s a complete film buff and book buff, and he’s obsessed with Stephen King, who he then got to be in this movie, which is insane.
He’s in Pretenders, too?
POOTS: I think he’s in that movie Stuck In Love.
Yeah, you’re right! One of the characters in that is a big fan.
POOTS: And Fault in Our Stars sounds really fun and he’s gonna give it a killer soundtrack, as always. It’s like, anyone who does Elliot Smith right, it’s terrific, and he does. But Pretenders is wonderful. He wrote it last year and yeah, we certainly had this idea we wanted to do something together so he kind of wrote it in the mind that we’d make it together, which is really special and I’m just thrilled to be able to do something like that. I mean, we love films like Carnal Knowledge. [It] was one of our favorite ones, a lot of new wave French films obviously and [Jean-Luc] Godard and the way that he celebrates “the woman” and the chaos of relationships and the chaos of humans kind of establishing what a normal, coherent relationship is. All this stuff really fascinates us, so I’m thrilled about that.
Would you call it a relationship drama?
POOTS: You know, I actually wouldn’t. I don’t think I would. I think I’d call it something, if you could kind of label it, whatever you’d call Carnal Knowledge. I guess it’s a pretty dramatic story because it’s got dark, dark elements to it, but we both adore the work of Mike Nichols and he’s an example of somebody who can make Carnal Knowledge or he could do Silkwood or he could do Heartburn and he just jumps from genre to genre in this seamless way and I think Josh is gonna be so capable of that, too.
And now because I have superheroes on the brain because so many of your co-stars here are rumored for superhero roles, if you got the chance to play one yourself, who would you want to be?
POOTS: Worm Man! Because no one’s played Worm Man. And also, who is Worm Man? Isn’t that the weirdest superhero? I was reading something and I was like, ‘Wow, there’s a superhero called Worm Man.’ There’s also Duck Man, I think. But then, once you play a superhero, is there any way back again? Once you’re a superhero, it’s just crazy.