Special Photo: Summit Entertainment Stephen Chbosky, at left, talks with Emma Watson and Logan Lerman on the set of "The Perks of Being a Wallflower."
ATLANTA -- High school brings back different memories for different people -- good or bad. In Stephen Chbosky's film "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," the audience takes a looks into the life of an outcast who learns how to spread his wings through the ups and downs of music, love and friendship.
Set in 1991, Charlie (played by Logan Lerman) is a socially awkward kid who watches life from the sidelines. After meeting two seniors Sam (Emma Watson) and Patrick (Erza Miller), his life changes in ways he never imagined
"Charlie is my world view in terms of what I want for people. Charlie is very close to me," Chbosky said. "Some of the things he went through in life, I went through in life, but some of it was invention, so there's a separation. But I would say of all the characters I've ever written in my entire career, he's the closest to my heart."
While attending screening and press events for "Perks," Chbosky has met many admirers with similar stories about life and what the film has meant to them, which has been a shock for the private director.
"I can't believe how many 'us' there are -- people that get this thing," he said. "It's not about people who have been through rough things, it's not about people who are gay or people who are really shy wallflowers, it's any person who's felt like a bit of an outcast. It's amazed me how many people who feel out than in."
Before there was a movie, Chbosky wrote the book with the same title with fans of its own, including one of the cast members.
"Ezra (Miller) read the book when he was 14," Chbosky said. "He loved the book so much that when he heard that they were making a movie, he saw a script at an actor's house ... he got so mad, he threw it against the wall because he didn't know I had done it (the screenplay)."
Miller apparently resisted auditioning for a role until he learned Chbosky was in charge of the venture, according to the director.
Many years after publishing the novel, Chbosky wrote the screenplay. He was no longer that teen, but a grown man, so he needed to remind himself what it was like to be an angsty teen again.
"For me, it took some work to get there, listen to the songs again to respect and honor at eye level ... what young people go through and respect it," he said. "To recognize that a first kiss, the first kiss you ever have is unique and special or to remember to be at that dance and be shy."
When filming began, Chbosky went back to his native of Pittsburgh for many scenes, since many of the "Perks" memories and situations were from his life. To add to the nostalgic feel, the director included his parents and sister as extras in the film.
Chbosky's mother and father were cast in a scene at a Catholic church (which was actually Presbyterian) and the two were part of twin Communion lines. The fictional parents walked side by side to the front of the church with the director's real parents, which was quite a thrill for them.
"My mom always wanted to be an actor, but she was a poor kid .. then I thought, 'You've got to put your mom in a movie, you have to do it,'" he said. "She loved it and she loved standing by Kate Walsh because she loves 'Grey's Anatomy' and 'Private Practice.'"
The movie opens today.