The new film “Love, Simon,” is about a junior in high school who is keeping up a secret, anonymous correspondence with another young man at his school who he has fallen for. All the while, he has yet to tell his friends and family that he is gay. Resolving both issues proves hilarious, terrifying and life-changing.
The film is adapted from the novel “Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda” by Atlanta-based writer Becky Albertalli.
“There is no one gay experience,” Albertalli tells City Lights host Lois Reitzes.”And even for a kid like Simon, who does have that wonderful support system—his family, his friends—and there’s not a part of Simon that thinks he’s about to be disowned, but for him, it’s really about wanting things to stay the same, and feeling like he’s going to be perceived differently by these people in his life.”
The screenplay was written by Elizabeth Berger and Isaac Aptaker, who co-produce the show “This Is Us.”
“I was unable to keep my cool when I finally met them,” Albertalli admits. “I’m the biggest fan. They wrote the script and sent it to me and I was asked to give feedback. I didn’t have a whole lot of feedback to give because I was completely blown away, even by the first draft that I saw.”
“My role [in the screenplay] was really most of cheerleader,” she says. “They were very open to my input, it’s just that my input happened to be a lot of exclamation points.”
The book and the film are both set in a fictionalized version of Sandy Springs, where Albertalli is from, and scenes were filmed in various locations around the city, including Grady High School, Marietta High School, and the Atlanta International School.
“People outside of the Atlanta area may not notice, but if you’re from here, it’s going to feel like a love letter to Atlanta,” she says.
Going from the solitary work of a novelist to the glamorous film world has been very strange, Albertalli admits.
“I live in Roswell,” she says, “and my life is the carpool line and not the red carpet. It’s so strange, it’s not something I ever thought would be a part of my life. I’m going to appreciate it while it’s happening. And I’m also going to appreciate when things calm down a bit and when I have the chance to take a deep breath and sit down at my computer again and write the next one.”
“Love, Simon” is open in theatres now.
This story originally appeared with an audio interview on WABE.org.