Photoshoots: 2012: Session 1
If I have any issue with the film it is that it tries to be more glossy than it needs to be. The lead, Dylan O’Brien, feels like he’s a male model (heck, he stars in MTV’s Teen Wolf series), which makes it hard to imagine that he’s the loser geek that the story makes him out to be. That said, his awkward performance seems so natural that my hesitations went away about 20 minutes in. Britt Robertson‘s performance is front and center and will win you over — I’m convinced that we will see a lot more from her in the coming years.
It’s hard not to be won over by “The First Time,” though, since TV vets Britt Robertson (“The Secret Circle”) and Dylan O’Brien (“Teen Wolf”) are so utterly charming. Robertson, in particular, brings a brainy-pixie vibe that reminded me of the late, great Adrienne Shelley in those early Hal Hartley movies.
As for O’Brien, he’s certainly charismatic, but he’s tough to buy as the nerdy sensitive-guy (who another character actually calls “average-looking”) when he could clearly be an underwear model. Nonetheless, the two actors click as slightly-eccentric adolescents who feel like real people, even if they don’t always talk like them.
Appearances: 2012: January 21 – 2012 Sundance Film Festival: The First Time Premiere
Filmmaker: Britt and Dylan both give really surprising performances here. How did you come across these two relative unknowns?
Kasdan: My least favorite part of the process is casting because you meet hundreds of incredibly talented and versatile actors and actresses that all bring something unique and special to their roles – and then you have to pick two of them. The casting process on this movie was lengthy and intense – partly because the teenagers reading for these roles seemed to respond very personally to the script. They were very invested – which was great in a way, but also really tough ’cause almost mpme of them got to do it.
I had brilliant casting directors in Amy Britt and Michael Nicolo, as well as the experience and wisdom of my producers Martin Shafer and Liz Glotzer. It was a collaboration between the five of us. Ultimately, we came down to about ten phenomenal kids (five boys/five girls) and had them read the scenes together, mixing and matching, trying different combinations. All of them would have been interesting (and totally unique) versions of this movie but Britt and Dylan, both incredibly exciting in their own rights, had a special chemistry together.
Britt is extremely experienced for someone her age (or any age). She’s done tons of movies and several television series. Her skill and experience put me at ease, particularly with a role as challenging as this one. She’s really the emotional soul of the movie for me. Dylan had relatively little experience at the time, but he possesses a totally innate, natural charisma and comic instinct that, combined with his physicality, creates a pretty dynamic package. They couldn’t be two more different kinds of actors, with more wildly different approaches, but they worked – I think, I hope – incredibly well together.
I have also added two new stills from the movie to the gallery.
 The First Time: Production Stills