The Pitt News

Cast, crew of “Me and Earl” reunites for Pittsburgh premiere

By Jai-W Hayes-Jackson / Staff Writer

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Pittsburgh rolled out the red carpet and threw on black tie attire to welcome back the cast and crew of “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” at the AMC Loews Waterfront theater on June 16.

The theater hosted a star-studded exclusive screening of “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl,” a drama based on the book of the same name.Pittsburgh native Jesse Andrews wrote the screenplay as well as the original book, which centers around a movie-making high school duo who befriend a girl with cancer. Thomas Mann, Olivia Cooke and RJ Cyler starred, while Alfonso Gomez-Rejon directed the film, which was shot in Pittsburgh. “Me and Earl” releases in theaters on June 26.

Mann, who plays the lead role of Greg Gaines, a smart and reserved high schooler, said the cast members were excited to be back in Pittsburgh.

“I love the people, and the city just feels lived in,” Mann said. “It has a rustic vibe that works well.”

Apart from his introspective role in “Me and Earl,” Mann played a high school loser in the 2012 film “Project X,” a comedy about a high school party gone wrong. He said that for “Me and Earl,” he was grateful to take on a more serious role as a teenager coping with having a dying friend.

“I’ve waited for the opportunity like this. As an actor, I wanted a role with a lot of depth and a chance to shine,” he said.

Cooke, who accompanied Mann on the red carpet, played Rachel Kushner, a girl with leukemia whom Greg and Earl befriend. Cooke was born in Manchester, England, and she said being in Pittsburgh invoked a sense of nostalgia.

“I love Pittsburgh, it is really industrial. It reminds me a lot of Manchester,” she said.

To prepare for her role, Cooke visited sick children to hone her somber portrayal of a person diagnosed with leukemia.

“I wanted to do this part not as a victim,” she said.

Gomez-Rejon also made a transition as the film’s director.

Before “Me and Earl,” he directed episodes of “American Horror Story” and the film “The Town That Dreaded Sundown,” both of which fall in the horror-thriller genre.

“[In] horror, there is a lot of blood,” he said. “But with ‘Me and Earl,’ I got to experiment with the camera. It was more still.”

With recent movies like “Me and Earl” and “The Fault in Our Stars,” which centers around two teenagers who have cancer, it appears that movies with this theme are becoming a trend.

Gomez-Rejon said while the genre is tragic, he still finds it interesting.

“Creativity heals and carries on personal stories,” Gomez-Rejon said.

Andrews added that teen dramas are different than other popular genres.

“They have more honesty in them and say that it’s OK for things to be hard,” Andrews said.

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Cast, crew of “Me and Earl” reunites for Pittsburgh premiere