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So the kids-gone-wild party movie Project X opens Friday:

"Tonight's about the girls we never had a shot at" - that's high school senior Castro, talking to his friend Thomas. The night in question is Thomas's 17th birthday party. The girl in question is Alexis, played by Alexis Knapp:

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On Monday, The Big Screen had a chance to chat with Knapp and fellow Project X star Kirby Bliss Blanton during their press tour for the film. (Blanton's interview will run tomorrow.)

In the press notes, Project X director Nima Nourizedah says, “I wanted the cast to feel like they were the characters, not actors playing this or that." The notes go on to say, that the filmmakers "found young actors with not only characteristics similar to the roles as originally drafted, but also traits they could incorporate into the script, fashioning the part to the performer, and vice-versa." I’m guessing that’s a big part of why so many of the characters have the actors' names - you play "Alexis," for example. How did you bring that effect - of being a character and not an actor - to the film?

Alexis Knapp: My character is very much a character. I’m nothing like the Alexis in the film. I just pretty much made up her intentions in my head, embodied it, and went with it.

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Ah. So you did approach it as an actor playing the role of “Alexis,” as opposed to simply being Alexis?

Alexis Knapp: Right. In the filming, I got to be a little more Alexis – we did a bunch of scenes where I did improv, and I got to curse out the boys when they were inviting me to the party. But none of those things actually made it into the film. They decided to make my character more mysterious. There are few lines that I actually get to keep. So the way I’m perceived in the film is not really the way we filmed it. It happens.

What was gained or lost by that decision?

Alexis Knapp: What was cool about the original character was… When they hired me, they told me that I was supposed to be this seemingly unattainable hot chick. But then, over the course of the film, you realize that she’s actually more grounded, kind of more tomboyish than you would expect. She’s very relatable. The way they cut the actual film, I wouldn’t say she’s relatable like that. I mean, she’s relatable to the hot chicks that were in high school, but this isn’t a story for them... No, actually, it’s a story for everybody. Everybody can relate to one character in one way or another.

In the film, Castro sends a mass text invitation to the party saying that hot bitches should wear something tight. How would Alexis in the film - the unattainable hot girl - respond to that?

AK: I didn’t even know, in the film, that they sent me that text.

How would you react in real life?

AK: I would ignore the person that sent the text. Block.

Why does Alexis go to the party?

AK: She’s in high school. I think she’s intrigued by Thomas and his bravery in throwing a party like that. Seeing if he can pull it off, and being surprised when he succeeds.

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You kind of bedazzle Thomas, even though he's really in love with Kirby. Is your character good or evil?

AK: When we filmed her, she was definitely not evil. When we were shooting it, she was just a really cool chick, relatable just like everybody else. You don’t really get to see that in the finished product, so it’s hard to say. But I still don’t think she is an evil person. I think she may just be a little misunderstood.

I ask because, in your interview with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, you say that you were "not the hot popular girl in school. All those girls were sluts."

AK: Well, yeah, they were, but…

Is Alexis a slut?

AK: I don’t think she is. She doesn’t really get with anybody else. She does get caught looking like she’s in a very slutty place, but she’s really only out there for Thomas.

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Why is she interested in him?

AK: I think there was some interest at school. He comes up to her and tries to invite her to his party, and at first, she thinks, “Who does this guy think he is? He’s got some balls.” But then there’s this kind of pure curiosity. Then, after she sees what a success and how cool he seems to be, I think she gets caught up in that image of him, and it makes her a little more into him. I don’t know, maybe it’s a fame thing. He seems famous at the party.

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Finally, in your interview with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, you said that you thought boys would like the boobies in the film. You’ve also said that you had trouble with your nude scene and that you had to work through that. How did you work through it?

AK: You know, it’s a job. Most actresses – pretty much all actresses – have to do nudity at some point in their career. Unfortunately, when you’re first starting out, you don’t really have the leverage to say no. It was a dealbreaker in this thing, so I had to work through it, or I couldn’t do the film. And I really wanted to do it. I really thought it was awesome. And in the long run, at least I have my rocking twenty-year-old body documented for the rest of existence. I’m happy with that, because I got to see it, and I was impressed. I didn’t know I looked like that. I mean, you look in the mirror, but you don’t see what you actually look like. You know what? Everybody does it, and not everybody looks very good doing it. So at least I was happy with what I saw – it came out to my satisfaction, and hopefully, to everybody else’s.

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Comments

Scott Marks Feb. 29, 2012 @ 3:48 p.m.

Damn, Matt! Why didn't you ask about the filmmaker's use of cinéma vérité and dialectical montage?

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Matthew Lickona Feb. 29, 2012 @ 4:03 p.m.

Time constraints. We were just getting to that.

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cablebfg March 1, 2012 @ 10:23 p.m.

You know what, Matthew? I'm proud of you and her both. That could have easily turned south. It also could have been a surface conversation and something she just barely got to talk about. Clearly she let out some stress by revealing those issues with how the final cut played out. Good for her. It would suck to work hard to create a character and see it nearly all thrown out as if it never occurred. I never got the tomboy vibe from her character last night, and simply cursing out boys? I've seen some prissy females do that. Clearly she had to have some other things that were cut.

Good for you for finding something actually interesting to talk to her about and continuing down that path. You also did some research into what she said and followed those points up.

Consider me a reader from here on out and I hope you continue to find something INTERESTING to talk to people about. Gave me some nice material for my own review.

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