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Juno Temple & Jeremy Dozier Dress Up Dirty Girl

Updated: Jun 28

Jeremy Tozier and Juno Temple at the New York Press Day for "Dirty Girl."

Jeremy Tozier and Juno Temple at the New York Press Day for “Dirty Girl.”

Juno Temple & Jeremy Dozier Dress Up Dirty Girl

by Brad Balfour

Despite a substantial effort to integrate gays into mainstream America, anti-homosexual violence continues for those who don’t conform to this country’s far-too-conservative mores. Though it’s hard to believe that it continues, bullying still spurs teen suicides in a country charged by Tea Party extremism.

So first-time director Abe Sylvia used his juvenile experiences as a gay kid growing up in 1980s Norman, Oklahoma, as a starting point to inform us about his efforts to flee such attitudes. His debut feature, Dirty Girl, details a comedic search for identity and freedom which provides a context to illustrate the effect such repression has and how it stimulates the will to escape.

As the “dirty girl” of Norman High, Danielle (Juno Temple) sluts her way through high school, but her misbehavior gets her demoted to Special Ed. There she joins up with innocent but abused closet-case Clarke (Jeremy Dozier). Together they head out on an illicit road trip to escape the repression and discover themselves through their unexpected friendship.

Coming from an English showbiz family – mom is producer Amanda Temple and dad is director Julien Temple – the younger Temple has been a schooled actress since elementary school. Relative newcomer Dozier has only done a few shorts. But he shares in Sylvia’s experience, having growing up in conservative small town Texas.

Sylvia ran off to NYC to be a Broadway hoofer, working with such talents as directors Susan Stroman, Mel Brooks and Tommy Tune. However, the grind took its toll and he turned to Los Angeles to do film, television and commercial work in 2001. After graduating from UCLA’s film school, Sylvia’s four short films have screened in over 100 international festivals. He’s also won several awards, including the Jack Nicholson Distinguished Director Award, the James Bridges Prize in Directing, and was a finalist in the 2006 Chrysler Film Project.

Thanks to Christine Vachon’s Killer Films and Paris Films, Dirty Girl got made and did the festival circuit including 2010’s Toronto International Film Festival. It is now being released theatrically this month. The following Q&A is culled from a recent roundtable with these two leads.

Much has changed in society since 1987 so what did you learn about the time period and what were your impressions?

Juno Temple: We had to do a lot of research on the music and stuff.

Jeremy Dozier: I really hadn’t listened to Melissa Manchester or anybody like that, and she’s this icon for Clarke. So I did a lot of research and watched her YouTube videos. I found it fascinating how powerful she was on stage. I also did lots of research on the time period, on the clothes and everything, which was a lot of fun. It was a time when being gay wasn’t really talked about so I think that’s changed a lot since then, thank God. We’d walk onto set and everything would be decked out in ’80s gear. It was so much fun walking into this different world.

Juno Temple: it was like walking into a new world in a puff of smoke.

Did you ask your older cast members to give you some tips or references for the ’80s?

Juno Temple: Kind of. But we’re a different generation to them in the movie, too. My parents were a big part of the ’80s rock and roll music scene, so I know quite a lot about that part of the ’80s. So this was like a whole new part of the ’80s in that we’re listening to this great power ballad, music you can’t help but move your body to.

Jeremy Dozier: What was great about working with Abe [Sylvia, the director] is that he grew up in that time period and had so many references for us. Movies like The Breakfast Club and different movies for us to watch.

Juno Temple: We watched some good movies.

Jeremy Dozier: The music plays a huge part of the movie, and he knew what songs he was going to play over which scene before we started.

Juno Temple: We were given the soundtrack before.

Jeremy Dozier: That helped us inform the scenes and get the tone [right].

You have your come-on line, which is “Are those Bugle Boy jeans?” I hadn’t heard that in so long.

Jeremy Dozier: I thought that was such a weird line. I shot the entire movie not knowing where that came from. Just last week, Abe posted the commercial on Facebook and I was like, “It all makes sense now.”

Any other references from the ’80s that you didn’t know about?

Juno Temple: There was a line that was cut out where Clarke says to Danielle, “Let’s sing ‘Don’t Cry Out Loud,'” and I’m like, “I’m more of a Whitesnake girl.” That was the kind of vibe that Danielle is more into, like hair metal. The thing I loved about Danielle was that she was kind of ’70s in this ’80s world. She got all her mum’s hand-me-downs, so she’s in these little rompers and fur coats and ’70s platform heels. She looks like even more of a misfit. She doesn’t get so ’80s until the end, with the polo neck and the camel toe shorts. It was interesting because also it’s so Abe’s world – it’s based on his childhood story. He’s written the bible for you in that situation because he knows it better than anybody else. [He‛s] a man you trust so dearly that he opens your eyes to this whole new world and you just become lost in it. So [we spent] a lot of time talking with Abe. I grew up having a really vivid imagination. So when you have a director that has this incredible vision that he’s just giving to you, it’s like walking through the Narnia closet or something, like walking through a whole new doorway. Even before we got on set, we did dance and singing rehearsals. We grew up going out dancing, and it’s like you just wriggle a bit, you don’t really have proper dance routines. So you get there and are learning how to do all these crazy moves that you haven’t seen since an ’80s music video. That was so fun, taking you to a whole new part of your brain that you haven’t really ever accessed before.

Did you keep any of the clothes?


Juno Temple: There was one – the Laura romper – that I wanted. Actually, Abe had bought [it] years ago for the movie and brought it in and it was a perfect fit. It's pale beige. It was kind of Cinderella-esque. It's the one in the campfire scene. Unfortunately, it was sent to a Universal storage lot. But it was meant to be mine. One day I'll get it back. It's very hard to find a good velour romper that suits you and fits the right areas correctly, I guarantee you.


How would you describe this film's tone?


Jeremy Dozier: This movie is like a roller coaster. There are really emotional scenes and then there are comedy scenes, so there's something for everybody. There's singing, dancing, and it deals with a lot of issues that are pertinent today.


Juno Temple: It's timeless, I think.


Jeremy Dozier: It's a movie set in the '80s but it is so important to today, especially in today's climate. With all the gay teen suicides and all of that, learning to love yourself and coming into your own and figuring out who you are – It's a great message movie.


Juno Temple: Yeah. It's "don't judge a book by its cover” – that's the best thing you can tell people, because it's the worst thing you can possibly do. You miss out on so much when you just judge someone by their cover.


Is it hard for you to believe that after all this time since '87, there are still these teen suicides because people are hassling others for being gay?


Jeremy Dozier: It's crazy.


Juno Temple: It's ridiculous, to be quite honest with you. We still haven't been able to find out a way to be okay with letting people be what they want to be. I think it is part of the reason why you get angry. But whatever happens, I think in high school there's going to be something that someone's going to get bullied about – like the size of someone's nostrils, or whether they have a weird toenail on their big toe. People find the weirdest stuff to destroy children's lives about. That's why I think this is such a great message, because it's really like, "look beyond that." When you first meet Clarke and Danielle in the movie, you wouldn't picture them being best friends at all. It's this weird chemistry that just explodes, because actually, for the first time, they meet someone [who] wants to listen to them. They meet someone who wants to be around them, someone who thinks they're so great for who they are, and to help entice that out of them. That’s something that people should so look for in high school. If you don't get on with everybody, you don't get on with everybody – you're not going to. But when you find the people that really get you and just love you for who you are, then everything kind of figures itself out and falls into place. I think that's such a good message to be sending.


Jeremy Dozier: Bullying ultimately comes out of ignorance.


Juno Temple: And jealousy.


Jeremy Dozier: I think we've made a lot of progress, but there's still a lot of progress to go.


It‛s amazing how people in high school or in junior high will type each other and then suddenly a year or two later they become best friends because they have more in common.


Jeremy Dozier: It's the message of this story too. It's so about becoming who you want to be versus what you're labelled as in high school, and that's exactly what these characters are doing over the course of the film.


Juno Temple: Life’s so much bigger than that.


Did your school have a Special Ed class like the one in the movie?


Jeremy Dozier: I went to high school in Texas and they definitely have the class for the troublemakers and stuff like that. And then if you had so many offenses, they had a whole separate school that you got sent to if you were that bad.


Where do they send you in England?


Juno Temple: I was in very, very, very bottom, bottom class math. I was awful at math. I went to an English boarding school, so the situation there is you have A, B, C, 1, 2, 3, and you're not put in one section for everything. I was in 3FF, or whatever it was called for math, but then I was in a really good class for English, and then history, and then not for physics. So it was very kind of catered.


Jeremy Dozier: Did they have a place for the troublemakers?


Juno Temple: God no, not in boarding school. But you also don't have that many people in school. My second boarding school, there was like 200 students all around. That's like the size of a year in American high school.


Jeremy Dozier: I think I graduated with like 500.


If they start getting good grades, did they put you back in regular classes?


Jeremy Dozier: Right, if you start behaving well, then they'd put you back in normal classes, yeah. Often whenever you get stuck in that class, it's only for like a week or a limited amount of time. It kind of serves as punishment or whatever.


Before doing this movie, what kind of Southern experiences did you have?


Juno Temple: I'd done a film in Louisiana, in Shreveport. I shot Year One there.


You didn't do that in a Southern accent.


Juno Temple: No, but I filmed in the South, so that was an experience. I actually had a funny experience there where I wore quite a lot of black. A big style icon for me is The Craft, so I was wearing some weird, Craft-looking outfit. I'm sitting outside the Hilton Shreveport, smoking a cigarette, just being sweet and quiet. This Southern guy came up to me and he was like, "Excuse me, ma'am?" He goes "Are you a Wiccan?" I was like, "I'm so sorry; I don't know what that is. I don't know." He's like "It's an earthly witch." And I was like "Oh no, no. No, I'm not. No." I also have a best friend I live with who's from Oklahoma, so I've been around an Oklahoman. But I hadn't done a Southern accent until Dirty Girl. Dirty Girl was my first.


So what did you learn in playing a Southern girl that you hadn't known before?


Juno Temple: I think at heart I'm probably Southern. I've had a few of my Southern friends say that I can be an honorary Southern person now, which I'm very excited about. They're really good fun, Southern people. You can vouch for that.


Jeremy Dozier: I'm from Texas so I grew up in the South. I can definitely vouch for it.


Juno Temple: He's a good time, I guarantee you.


What did you do to teach her about Southern fun?


Jeremy Dozier: We live in LA so that's kind of hard. We went country dancing not too long ago. Line dancing.


Juno Temple: We did go country dancing. You played me some good tunes. We did some dancing in trailers.


Jeremy Dozier: A couple of the words she said were off. For instance, she says "twat" in the movie and she said "twat" [with a flat a] and I was like "No, no, no. That's not how you say it in the South."


Juno Temple: I have to just make a statement there. "Twat" sounds so English. "Oh, you twat." And then like "Oh, you twat [with a flat a]" sounds so much more American. So I was like "Twat? What are you talking about, you weirdo?" I was livid about it. I was just very embarrassed.


What was your relationship like when you first met and how did it change over the course of making the film?


Jeremy Dozier: We met at the chemistry read. We had spent like 30 minutes together just reading, and rode the elevator down together. Juno doesn't drive, so she was like, "I have to take a taxi." I was like, "I have a car. I can give you a ride if you want." I never thought that she would take me up on it because I was a complete stranger. But she did, and I drove her home.


Juno Temple: Yeah, being a blonde girl without a license in LA. You take what you can get [laughs].


Now do you have a license?


Juno Temple: I don't have a license.


Jeremy Dozier: In a driving movie, a road trip movie without a license.


Juno Temple: I notified them that when in my first audition, I was like, "I have to tell you guys immediately that I don't drive." I mean, I can drive, but legally I can't. But then we got in the car and listened to the radio and we were chatting and got on so well, that [our relationship] just blossomed more and more. You know immediately there was an instant chemistry right there. Then you start shooting a movie and get tired; it's long days and you get emotional, and it was the best support system ever. So great.


Jeremy Dozier: Totally, this was my first film, so to have a best friend there that's in almost every scene I'm in [helped]. We had the chemistry so we would just get on set and play, which was so nice. It was so much fun.


Juno Temple: It was really great.

Did that make your dancing and strip scenes easier to do?


Jeremy Dozier: Totally. It all comes from Abe [Sylvia] because Abe was so supportive and he built this supportive set where all of the crew, even the big name actors, were so nice to me and treated me as an equal, and that meant the world to me. On the first day, Mary Steenburgen pulled me aside and told me that she knew what it was like to be in my shoes because the first film she did, [Goin‛ South], she starred opposite Jack Nicholson and Nicholson was also directing. So she knew what it was like to be on a film with big actors in it. Bill [Macy], Tim [McGraw], Dwight [Yoakam] and Milla [Jovovich] – everybody was so nice and supportive. So whenever it did come to the moments where you either had to be really emotional, like Juno did, or where I was in underwear and a Flashdance shirt, you really felt really comfortable. Of course, it was nerve wracking [on] the first take, but then you kind of get into it.


Juno Temple: Also you were bringing so much. It's like when you have people on a set and everyone's so enjoying the project that they're working on. You have a good time when the camera's not rolling and you're so excited to go to work.


Jeremy Dozier: And you build upon one other. It's like everybody just gets more and more creative. It was great.


What about working with former Heroes star Nick D'Agosto? He was only there for a few days, but how did he add to the dynamic?


Juno Temple: That was early on in the movie. He came on and shot that beautiful scene where he's dancing, and he was the first one that hadn't danced. We had all done this dance training, and we were like, oh my God. And it was just so beautiful that night with the projection screen and him.


Jeremy Dozier: Juno and I did it together, but we hadn't seen Nick's dance. He’s such a good actor. He was amazing so the scenes that we shot with him were so easy. One of my favorite scenes in the film was the Skittles scene, after we've picked him up and we're playing with the Skittles in the back of the car. That scene is a lot of improv because we're playing with the Skittles and you just have to react to whatever happens. There's a line in the movie where he's like "You knocked me in my tooth," and it was so funny and perfect. It felt effortless whenever we were all together. I remember we would stop the rolling of the cameras and [be] like, wait, did we get all the lines? Is that the scene? Are we good?

What's next for you?


Jeremy Dozier: I have two movies in post-production right now. One is a teen comedy called Rock Paper Scissors, which is kind of Dodgeball meets Superbad. And I did an indie thriller called Right Next Door, that's about this family that is dark and twisted. They hire a babysitter and over the course of the film the babysitter realizes that the family is not what they seem.


Do you have anything?


Juno Temple: I've got some movies coming out. I've been busy for the past like year and half. I've shot seven or eight movies, so that's been great. I just wrapped a movie a few weeks ago called The Brass Teapot, this independent that I shot in upstate New York. [It‛s] about this young married couple that doesn‛t have much going for them and they find this magical brass teapot that when you inflict pain, it spews out money. So shit gets kind of gnarly. But it's good, because it's like money doesn't make you happy, and I like that moral because I think that's very true. I've got a couple projects that I hope happen at the end of the year that just need a little bit more money. One of them would be in Chile, so I hope that happens. It would be a good exploration to go on. And then Christmas with my family, which I can't wait for.

Copyright ©2011 All rights reserved. Posted: October 26, 2011.

Photo Credits:

#1 © 2011 Brad Balfour. All rights reserved.

#2 © 2010. Courtesy of The Weinstein Company. All rights reserved.

#3 © 2010. Courtesy of The Weinstein Company. All rights reserved.

#4 © 2010. Courtesy of The Weinstein Company. All rights reserved.

#5 © 2010. Courtesy of The Weinstein Company. All rights reserved.

#6 © 2010. Courtesy of The Weinstein Company. All rights reserved.

#7 © 2010. Courtesy of The Weinstein Company. All rights reserved.

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