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Angourie Rice, Armani Jackson and Amy Keum – High School Confidential

Updated: Jul 29, 2022

Angourie Rice, Armani Jackson and Amy Keum

High School Confidential

by Jay S. Jacobs

High school can be a jungle.

Students climb all over each other trying to be the best – the best student, the best athlete, the best looking, the best dressed, the most accomplished. And yet not everyone can be best, leaving a large group of outcasts, bullied and disenfranchised kids.

It’s a stressful time, and yet it’s also a fertile ground for comedy. High school films are long-time staples of cinema.

This is the premise behind Honor Society, a new comedy in which an over-achieving student named Honor (Angourie Rice of Mare of Easttown and the Spider-Man movies) tries to assure that she will get a vital recommendation for Harvard – her dream school. She finds out she is in the running with three other students, and she goes to great extents to try to sabotage their chances.

These other students are a brainy nerd named Michael (Gaten Matarazzo of Stranger Things), a big man on campus with a personal secret named Travis (Armani Jackson of Chad) and a brilliant-but-uptight loner named Kennedy (Amy Keum of Evil).

The more that Honor plots to distract them from their academic goals, the deeper she is drawn into their lives, and she learns that perhaps grades are not the most important things in life.

About a week before Honor Society has its debut on Paramount+, we hopped on Zoom calls with stars Angourie Rice, Armani Jackson and Amy Keum to find out if high school ever ends.

What was it about this script that intrigued you and wanted you made you want to be a part of it?

Angourie Rice: Many things. I really liked Honor as a character. I saw a lot of myself in her, just that ambition and that competitiveness. But I also wanted the challenge of talking to the camera. I wanted the challenge of playing a character so confident, who goes through this incredible arc of learning and growing. There are so many interesting little bits in this script that really caught my attention.

Armani Jackson: For me, it was, I just love being a part of something that teaches people something. And then can actually start like a movement and start changing people's lives. When I read the script, I almost – even without seeing it, just reading it – gave me a new perspective on things. I knew that once the film was actually made it would be 100 degrees more impactful than that. So for me, it was just being able to tell a story that that hasn't been told that much. And, showcase that it's not always that scary to be yourself.

I thought it was very funny, that Honor thinks that she's this big puppet master. She's taking care of all these things and moving everyone in her ways. Yet, as is pointed out in the movie, she's too good hearted to really hurt the people she's going up against. Was that fun for you to play?

Angourie Rice: So much fun. Also, she's constantly surprised by people. She thinks she has everyone figured out and they keep surprising her because she hasn't made the effort to get to know people. She puts people in these stereotypical boxes, and then is confused when they don't act in the way that she expects them to. So I think she learns to really open up to other people and to be vulnerable in forming connections.

Armani Jackson: I think Honor is such a good person that she almost sometimes doesn't even realize she's helping people. So yeah, it was cool to work off of her character. It was really fun to work off of her breaking the fourth wall.

Amy Keum: Yeah.

Armani Jackson: Sometimes we’d be in the middle of a scene, and we'd have to continue with what we're doing while she was just like talking to the camera. That was new. It is still not done that much. At least for me, I haven't done a project like that.

There's a terrific cast of young actors here. What was everyone like to work with?

Angourie Rice: Fantastic. The whole cast is just great. Everyone was so committed, and so into it, and so great. Those were my favorite days when all the young people were on set. All the stuff in the theater. All the stuff in the chemistry class. All of that was just such a treat to film.

Now, Amy, your character was very, very uptight. To put it nicely. Was that difficult to to find to do as an actress? And what ways would he even someone like you?

Amy Keum: (laughs) Yes, absolutely. I mean, I would say there are some similarities I shared with Kennedy that I definitely had to just lean into a lot more. When I was really little, I was like that at times where I'd kind of look around and be very precocious and look at other kids and be like, grow up. (laughs again.) I would like to think I've grown out of that. But in order to prepare for the character, I just really leaned into that.

Angourie Rice: One of my favorite aspects of the movie is Honor’s friendship with Kennedy that slowly develops. I loved building that with Amy. I just think it's so special, that friendship.

Amy Keum: Even in the hours leading up to filming I would have to get pretty in the zone, journal in the character of Kennedy and think like, “Okay, what would Kennedy be doing?” She'd be approaching this in a very intense way. Then of course, the challenge was once I had that hardened shell now how do I show some of the cracks in that? How do I still show the humanity of Kennedy and that she's a human? She's a soft person inside, too.

I know that you're very into literature. I thought it was interesting that it was a point made a few times in the movie that Honor considered The Handmaid's Tale as her defining book. That's a book that's been very much in the news right now. Was that something that you had in the involved with? Were you familiar with the book?

Angourie Rice: I hadn't read the book before I got the script. I read it after I got the job. I loved it. There are so many interesting things in there that are very applicable and really resonate with everything going on now. Also, there are many, many quotes in there that connected me more to Honor as a character. There are lots of things about hiding yourself and protecting yourself from harm in a way, putting on a show becoming someone else to appease certain people. I think that's very relevant to Honor as well.

How far do you think you would go to get the dream recommendation to the school that you want most?

Armani Jackson: Not that far.

Amy Keum: (laughs) Yeah.

Armani Jackson: I get it. I think high school sometimes it feels like that's really what you’re there for. It's just like a gateway to your next step. Sometimes people forget to just have fun, live in the moment.

Amy Keum: Absolutely. I think in some ways I was like Honor. Not in the cutting other people down way but just in trying to be like this perfect student and do all the right things. Even looking back now I'm like: You know what? I could have enjoyed high school a little bit more.

Armani Jackson: It always happens, it could have been better.

Is bread love?

Angourie Rice: (laughs) You’re the second person who has asked me that. You know what? I think yes. I love bread. (laughs again.)

Do you have any special favorite high school films that may have inspired you when you were making this film?

Armani Jackson: For me, it was probably Booksmart, honestly. It had a lot of similar vibes. Especially from the way it was shot. It's always fun to have a little bit of inspiration in mind whether it's the acting, or whether it's the realism, or just the style. It's fun to be passionate about a different movie or project you saw when you're working on a new one.

Amy Keum: Absolutely. As inspired by our hair master Jessica [Rain], she told me that I should rewatch The Breakfast Club. So definitely Ally [Sheedy] was one of my inspirations of just another really stark interesting character that really marches to the beat of her own drum. Then, additionally for on my own personal research, I watched a lot of Bloody Mary history videos just get a little extra research in.

Angourie Rice: Clueless is one of my favorite movies of all time. I think the journey that Cher goes on is similar to Honor’s journey. Cher learns a lot more. Honor’s a lot more clued in than Cher is. (laughs) But I think that character arc is very similar. And Election. Tracy Flick is a is a great parallel for Honor. That was a movie that I rewatched to prepare.

Copyright ©2022 All rights reserved. Posted: July 28, 2022.

Photos © 2022 Michael Courtney/Nickelodeon/Paramount+. Courtesy of Viacom International. All rights reserved.


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