On the new Facebook and Cambio 6-part web series Aim High, premiering on October 18th, Nick Green (The Twilight Saga star Jackson Rathbone) is a top agent for the U.S. government. He’s effective, clever and deadly, and a 16-year-old high school student. And, if all of that wasn’t tough enough, Nick is interested in Amanda (Friday Night Lights star Aimee Teegarden), a cool rocker chick dating the captain of the school’s championship swim team. With a look and feel equal to the quality of any TV show or big screen movie, this fully interactive web series certainly seems like a sign of things to come.
At a press day to promote Aim High, co-stars Jackson Rathbone (who is also a producer on the series) and Aimee Teegarden spoke to Collider for this exclusive interview about how this project came about for both of them, how the idea of the personalization aspect is really going to change the way that people consume entertainment, training to play a top spy, and what makes high school more difficult than being a teenage assassin. They both also talked about closing the recent chapters in their own lives – with Rathbone finishing the Twilight Saga films, and Friday Night Lights coming to a close on television for Teegarden – and how bittersweet it was to say goodbye. Check out what they had to say after the jump.
JACKSON RATHBONE: In pre-production, Wonderland brought me in as a producer and actor, and we discussed a lot about what we wanted to do with the show. We didn’t want to just create another web series. We wanted to do something new and innovative, and we talked a lot about the Facebook integration. But, we had to make the show first, and we had to find an amazing leading lady that would get all the boys riled up, so we asked Aimee Teegarden to come in and help us out with that. We were really excited about the process of making the show. We were running and gunning, and shootin’ from the hip. We shot with 7Ds and 5Ds, as the cameras we used, and we did it all in eight days, but it looks aesthetically like any show that would be on a network. Now, with the personalization integration, we have something that no one has ever done before. And, the fact that we’re premiering on Facebook is exciting. It’s an exciting, new time.
AIMEE TEEGARDEN: When I came on, the character was pretty developed, but it was really fun to shoot. We had a couple takes with everything because we were just running and gunning, but we got to play around a bit with the characters. I had such a fun time. The idea of the personalization is really going to change the way that people consume entertainment. I feel like television, as it is now, isn’t going to be the same, in a couple of years.
RATHBONE: No one really has television that much, anymore.
TEEGARDEN: I don’t have a TV at my house. I literally do not. I have a television, but I don’t have anything plugged into it, though. I watch DVDs.
RATHBONE: My buddy has a TV in our house, but I don’t watch TV much. Every once in awhile, it will be on, and I’ll walk by and turn it off, and he’ll be like, “Hey, man, I was watching that,” and I’m like, “Read a book!”
RATHBONE: It’s interesting, we got out of the constraints of network television. Even if you look at network television, the constraints are getting a little wider. They’re pushing the boundaries, constantly. What we wanted to do was push the boundaries on the internet, a little bit. It’s not that racy. We’re not saying anything that’s highly inappropriate. It’s not a Quentin Tarantino script. But, it’s really fun, it’s edgy and it’s that dark comedy. It rides the line. It toes it and sneers at it.
Jackson, did you have to do a lot of training to convincingly play a top spy?
RATHBONE: Yeah. I trained in martial arts when I was younger, and then I did a lot of training for The Last Airbender, which parlayed into Eclipse and the other Twilight films, and I’ve kept my stunt guys. There’s a group called Real Kicks, based in Los Angeles, that I work with all the time now. I brought them on to the rest of the Twilight films, and they choreographed the stunt scenes for us in Aim High. It was exciting. It was really fun. But, at the end of the day, the easiest training is just human instinct. When someone is swinging a knife at you, just avoid getting cut. Do not get cut. That’s the whole point.
RATHBONE: High school is rough, man. It can be like war. My parents would have to put the fire hose on me to get me out of bed, to go to school in the morning. They would use a cattle prod and just shock me, or throw boiling water on me, or fire a gun next to my head, to get me out of bed. I hated going to school, mainly because my sister would drive me and she would put her make-up on while she drove. That’s dangerous. That should be illegal.
Amy, did this compare to your high school experience, in any way?
TEEGARDEN: I wasn’t really around too much. I graduated when I was 15, so I didn’t have the traditional high school experience. I just kept going, for all four years, and condensed it down. And then, I was working full-time, which is not something that a typical 16-year-old does. But, no matter where you are or where you grow up, you always go through the same awkward moments of being a teenager and growing up and trying to figure out who you are. I think there’s a lot of really different, fun characters in this series, that a lot of people can relate to.
TEEGARDEN: Amanda has a boyfriend, and they’ve been together forever. It’s the simple, easy thing to do. But then, she starts to have feelings for Nick. He’s a really sweet guy that she starts to feel really safe and comfortable around, and that she feels she can tell all of her secrets because he’s not going to judge her. She gets caught in the middle over what to do.
RATHBONE: Nick is a homewrecker. We’ve all had that, in our lives. I believe we’ve all had some kind of unattainable love or desire. You find something in someone that you’re so attracted to, and maybe the timing just doesn’t work out. One thing that tortures Nick is that he’s literally out there, making it okay and saving her life and saving the lives of thousands of people, but at the end of the day, no one really knows he does it. They all think of him as this kid at school who doesn’t have any friends, and hangs out with the other weird kids, and likes the pretty girl because everybody likes the pretty cool. But, she actually talks to him, which is nice. It gives him hope that maybe, if she gets knocked in the head the right way, she might realize that love is standing right before her.
You’ve each recently closed a big chapter in your lives, with Friday Night Lights coming to an end, and the final chapter in the Twilight Saga wrapping. How difficult was it to for each of you to say goodbye to a character you’d played for so long?
RATHBONE: You do something, over the course of a bunch of years, and it’s bittersweet. You definitely feel like you’ve accomplished something, but at the same time, it’s hard to say goodbye.
TEEGARDEN: It’s really bittersweet. I grew up on Friday Night Lights. I was living in Austin for the show, and I love the city of Austin and the music scene. The people are so great there. So, it’s a brand new chapter, growing up into my adult life and moving back to California and starting over, in a certain sense. But, it’s been so much fun. Going to the Emmys and seeing Kyle [Chandler] and Jason [Katims] win was just phenomenal.