Aged almost 25, Dianna Agron is still playing school girls in both GLEE & new movie I AM NUMBER FOUR. Movies.ie met up with her recently to find out the secret from the eternal cheerleader.
What can you tell us about your role in I AM NUMBER FOUR?
DA: You are introduced to my character Sarah in high school; she is coming up on the end of her high school experience. She had been kind of going on with the ‘in crowd’ up until a point where she realises ‘these aren’t really the people that I identify most with’. She loves photography and she loves being the observer, so she’s very happily the outsider without this elitist mentality – that is just the way she is. She meets John and she makes the assumption that he might be like the crowd that she has departed from and in fact, he’s quite the opposite and they form a quick liking for each other. They are very open and honest with each other and they go on this wonderful, romantic journey together and she realises that he’s not the average guy [laughs] and that he has got some quite different skills.
Would you say Sarah is close to the real you?
DA: I think in certain ways. Certainly the photography side of me is very similar. I think one of the things I liked about her was that she had something of an old soul quality to her and understanding people is always something that I have always been keen on. In ways that I don’t feel the same as her… I very much enjoyed high school and stayed very present in that experience until I left. You could say maybe I was popular because I was well liked. It’s funny because you can look at a series of photos and say ‘You were the popular kid’ especially because, in my high school, there was always a Homecoming Court and in the beginning it was always the people who were popular, but later it was the people who were nice or well liked. There are a couple of photos that have surfaced from that. My friend and I were in that [the Homecoming Court] both junior and senior years, but it was because we ran in those circles. Our school was still clique-y but it was a different circumstance. I certainly wasn’t the person walking down the hallway in a short skirt and heels, I was the person that… A couple of times I dyed my hair red and it faded to orange and I had to figure out how to fix that. I was just finding my way.
You have been playing teenagers on screen for quite a while now…
DA: [laughs] Yes! Nobody has stamped me as any older than 16! [laughs] Which I am fine with!
Are you looking forward to playing someone the same age as you are now?
DA: Well, as the old lady that I am… [laughs] I think it’s fun as long as you are playing a really fulfilling character. It doesn’t really matter what age they are or what they are like, I think the trick is that they have to be well written and have something to them. It hasn’t really been an issue, although my mom jokes about it. She says ‘You are a ninth year senior’ [laughs]
You are quite often cast as a cheerleader. Were you one at school?
DA: No, I was a ballet dancer, I was on the yearbook staff and was involved with drama a little bit. I couldn’t really see myself in that role, but I have been a dancer my whole life. One of the things that I really liked, was Sarah in the movie apart from the book – in the book she is addressed as a former cheerleader who dated the football player – Mark, her ex-boyfriend is a football player in the movie but you never see him in uniform and it is never addressed with her, which I think is quite cool because you are introduced to her, and you know this is in the past but you don’t have to go through that whole thing, which she, in turn, has been trying to step away from; you just see her as she is now. I like that, I like that they didn’t choose to go there.
Dance was your first love?
DA: Yes, and that in turn turned me onto movies like An American in Paris, Singing in the Rain and Funny Face. Those were the movies that I was primarily allowed to watch as a kid. I wanted to be Audrey Hepburn and was obsessed with I Love Lucy, so in my ideal world I was going to be an actor and be a mixture of the two.
Do you still listen to songs from musicals?
DA: My father is really into music so the first concert that I ever went to was The Who, and with him I fell in love with The Beatles, Dylan, Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and stuff like that and I was a ballet dancer so I liked classical music. Now today it’s such a wide range – I love Radiohead, Grizzly Bear and Florence and the Machine. There is such a wide range of music available now. I was lucky to have parents who had a wide and varied music taste, so I was able to experience that growing up and I think with Glee the younger generation is becoming acquainted with some classics that they might not know.
Did Glee feel like a natural progression for you?
DA: Yes definitely, although you can never plan something out, so I never saw a show like Glee coming my way, it has been a lucky find. I think that’s what’s great about this industry. I didn’t know I was going to be doing I Am Number Four until four weeks before we started shooting and it’s just great that you never know what is around the corner or what’s going to work out. It’s kind of great that way.
Have you fully realised the impact Glee has had?
DA: Well we’ve been kind of available to the scope of it. We travelled to Australia and we kind of saw it there – it was just in the beginning stages. Now in the land of Twitter, Facebook and blogs you can feel the buzz from the fans.
Do you tweet or blog?
DA: I have a blog that I started when I was in Australia. I am really into photography – that is one thing that Sarah and I have in common – and I thought it might be fun to upload photos from my trip. At first I just started it with my family and friends… Of course it is on the internet – I had a Twitter account and I just linked it one day and people said they liked it.
Glee has some super-fans; are they tough to deal with?
DA: I think the most fun we had with fan interaction was when we did the signings and things like that. You see a load of people at the same time and you try to have a conversation with each person and some people will say wonderful things to you. This woman came up to me and she started crying – she was probably in her late 20s – and she said ‘I had my baby when I was 15 and I can’t imagine my life without him and thank you for portraying a woman on TV who is going through something hard but is standing up to it. Then the next person actually has a baby with them and says ‘Please sign my baby’ [laughs] We just have such loving and supportive fans. It just hit this group of people that are very loyal, and we have just heard wonderful things and there is no negativity around us, which is nice.
Words – Brogen Hayes
I AM NUMBER FOUR hits Irish cinemas on Feb 23rd