Emma Roberts is figuring it out. Julia Roberts' niece, the daughter of actor Eric Roberts, the 22-year-old star of "Adult World" is grappling with living in the world as, well, an adult. When NextMovie caught up with Roberts at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City the day after the film's premiere, the actress was picking at a bunless burger and a heap of fries, bemoaning the blisters her heels had given her the night before. "Someone should do a shoe break-in service where they break in your shoes," she said.
Shoe problems aside, Roberts' career is standing tall: She's graduated from her "Nancy Drew" and "Aquamarine" kiddie film days to solidly received indies like "Adult World" and "It's Kind of a Funny Story," and a memorable supporting role as Ke$ha-like Riley in Rashida Jones' "Celeste and Jesse Forever." Her career is maturing as she does.
In "Adult World," Roberts plays Amy, a would-be poet who literally runs away from home when her parents refuse to continue paying contest entry fees for her amateur verse. She makes rent money at a porn shop (guess what it's called) alongside scruffy manager/cute dude Alex (Roberts' real-life boyfriend, "American Horror Story" star Evan Peters), while pestering an enigmatic has-been poet (a hilariously befuddled John Cusack) to mentor her, hoping the two can reverse their career trajectories and meet in the middle.
In addition to Roberts' million-dollar shoe-softening idea, NextMovie chatted with her about "Adult World," being a terrible roommate and her deep obsession with bagels.
Congratulations on the movie. Is that the first time you've seen it with an audience?
Yeah, it was the first time I've seen it with an audience, but I was lucky because we had a great audience. I was surprised at how much people laughed and it made me really happy because I thought the movie was funny, so it made me happy that everyone else did too.
Is it weird for you to watch yourself on screen?
It's always weird, but in this one it was fun, because I felt like I played such a different character than anything I'd ever done, and I just, I kind of just let all of my inhibitions go and totally went for it. So it was fun to watch it in that respect and not have to worry about vanity. I wasn't, like, worried about how I looked, so that kind of made it a little bit easier to do it. When you're supposed to play a model or something like that in a movie, it's, like, horrible to watch yourself. But in this, I kinda felt like I looked like a little mouse the whole time, running around.
You mentioned that they dyed your hair in a bathtub?
Mmmhmm, I'm not kidding. I went to Syracuse [to film] with blonde hair, and they brought a bottle of dye in the bathtub and poured it on my head the first day of shooting. But it was one of those things where I was like you know what, it's helping me get into character. [pauses] Sorry, I'm like the loudest person in here. My mom is always shushing me.
So you went to Sarah Lawrence for a little bit, then left. Did you have a hard time conjuring post-collegiate angst for this role?
It was so funny. Going to college was such a trip, because I had lived on my own for two years. And then I moved into a dorm with all of these people and went to class. And it was so cool and so fun and such a good experience, but ultimately I wanted to keep working. I don't know how people work and go to school, it's so hard. And so I wanted to work, but doing "Adult World" definitely gave me flashbacks to being in college.
Do you have any roommate horror stories?
No, she probably has stories about me, because she was like this neat, vegan, sweet girl who went to bed at 7 p.m., and I was like the girl crying because she wanted to go home and was in bed at like midnight and was so loud. I didn't know how to be quiet. So it was so funny, because everyone's like, "Oh my god, did you have a nightmare roommate?" But she probably thought that she had a nightmare roommate, it was me. So loud! She was probably bummed, because she had a single probably before I showed up.
The movie is called "Adult World." What do you think qualifies a person as being an adult, as kind of entering that world?
Well, I remember when I moved out of my parents' house and I got my apartment, I was like, "This is awesome! I'm an adult! I can live by myself!" And then I was like, "Oh my god, I have to buy paper towels and toilet paper and do laundry. This is not what I thought." I think it's so funny, because I think once you become an adult, there's so many rude awakenings that are just so not fun, but at the same time funny. That's why I really loved "Adult World," because I feel like it really showed those moments of like, "this is not what I thought was going to happen" really well. I feel like a lot of coming of age movies really kind of gloss over that, and "Adult World" kind of shows what happens when things don't go according to plan, and that it shows [my character] Amy having to come up with Plan B on the spot and have to figure that stuff out in the moment, because that's what real life is.
It's a real millennial struggle sort of movie.
I agree, and I think it really captures our generation, which is this generation of like, everyone thinks they're the best, everyone wants to be famous, everyone thinks that they are the next whatever, big thing. And I think it's funny, because Amy is no exception to that, and when those people go out into the real world, myself included, you think things are gonna be a certain way. Things happen in a certain way where you're like, "this is not how it was supposed to happen, like I wrote in my journal when I was 14!"
In the movie, you use the SPARFS — Sexual Preference, Age, Race, Fetish — to classify the movies. Where would you fall in that system?
Granny porn. Granny porn. Nah, I'm kidding. I don't know I wouldn't have a subcategory. I still don't understand how the category system works, even after hearing it.
Your character in this is a poet. Have you ever written poetry, good or bad?
Yeah, I think I went through a phase when I wanted to be like Sarah McLachlan when I was younger and wrote a lot of poetry.
Be like Jewel and live in your car.
Jewel! I wanted to be like Jewel! I got a guitar, and I know how to play every Jewel song on a guitar still. And I had so much, like, you see these videos of me singing it, and you would think that I went through what she went through at 9. It was, like, really convincing.
Since we're here at Tribeca, let's talk about that. If you have your own film festival, where would it be and what would it be called?
I'd probably have it in New York in the springtime, like Tribeca. It's so nice! The past few times I've been to New York it's been below zero, so I'm just loving New York right now. So I'd have it here in New York, I'd have lots of pizza and lots of candy. Pizza, candy, movies, New York in the springtime. Maybe have an outdoor screening in Gramercy Park! Let's do that.
What's your favorite thing about New York?
I love just walking around and the New York vibe. I feel like so many of my favorite movies have taken place in New York, and so many songs about New York. There's just a vibe to New York like something's going to happen, which is really cool.
And what's your least favorite thing about New York?
Probably that there's never any taxis when I need them. Is it just me, or is there like a taxi shortage? Every time I try to get a taxi, it's never — it always seems to be rush hour in New York.
What's your preferred bagel topping?
I love bagels. I had two bialys today already.
I don't trust people who don't like bagels.
Right? I just like plain cream cheese on my bagels. But I like it extra-toasted. Almost burnt. I don't like it when they run it through once and then put the cream cheese on, that's sucky.
I've quit bagels shops for that.
It's so annoying! I hate how Murray's doesn't toast. It's BS.
And iced coffee, that's important.
Oh my god, I had an iced coffee today. I love iced coffee.
My place, they put the sugar in, pour hot coffee on it to melt it, then pour in the milk and iced coffee. It's the greatest.
That's the best.
What would your porn name be, using the formula of your first pet and the street you grew up on?
Oh my god, mine's so good. It sounds like a foreign porn star. Mine's Snutta Astral.
What was Snutta?
My cat! Snutta! I was really weird. ["Adult World" star Evan Peters, who also dates Roberts, walks up to the table.] Hi! What's your porn name?
EP: Petey Carmen Grove.
Lastly, do you want to take a selfie for us?
I mean, sure. How could I say no?