No shock: someone who was in Richard Linklater’s “Everybody Wants Some!!” is pretty chill. Blake Jenner isn’t the type of actor you just pelt with questions. He likes to chat. He says “dude” a lot. He’s laidback and friendly and chatty. Before we talk about his new film, “The Edge of Seventeen,” we aimlessly gab — about life, about Uber drivers, about how the “Black Mirror” episode with Bryce Dallas Howard episode — about a near future in which everyone rates each other on smart phones — was horrifyingly chilling.
Eventually we get to “The Edge of Seventeen,” which finds Jenner, 24, playing a high school senior. The hero is Nadine (Hailee Steinfeld), a grouchy, antisocial junior who’s pissed when her bestie (Haley Lu Richardson) starts dating her older brother Darian. Jenner plays Darian — someone who seems like a stock popular bro but who is more complex and vibrant underneath.
I love that you mentioned “Black Mirror” because I literally have an episode paused on my TV as we’re on the phone.
I love it because I’m such an Alan Watts fan. It just comes full circle for me. He’s so awesome in the way he describes life and where we’re headed — how we live to work to buy these things that just tease our eyes, ears and our mouths. We live to tease our senses. When I started watching “Black Mirror,” I thought, ‘This guy would be creaming his pants if he was watching this.’ Like, “See, I told you so!”
I’m actually unfamiliar with Alan Watts. He’s a philosopher?
I don’t know what you’d call him. I want to call him a wizard. My favorite one of his books is called “The Wisdom of Insecurity.” It sounds like a self-help book, but it’s really not. It kind of stabs at the heart of what “Black Mirror” is brushing up against, but he’s seeing it ahead of his time. He wrote these books decades ago. [Ed. Watts died in 1973.] It’s so crazy how on-point he is, how timeless he is.
How did you stumble upon Watts?
It was thanks to my wife. I’m in the mode of passing him along. I was in an Uber, and I had a talk about life with my driver. I passed on “The Wisdom of Insecurity” to him. It was the most meaningful Uber ride I ever had. It didn’t feel like a moving timeout; it had substance.
I would have imagined you would have learned about him from Richard Linklater. When all of you were promoting “Everybody Wants Some!!” last year, everyone sounded like they were friends for life. I’m assuming that’s still the case.
Dude, you know how with your best friends back home, no matter how long you don’t talk for, when you meet up you’re back to wherever you are? That’s exactly how it is with all of us, every single one of us.
You’re actually in two of the better films to come out this year, which is that and “The Edge of Seventeen.” And this one’s produced by James L. Brooks, who did “Broadcast News” and “Terms of Endearment.” I feel “Seventeen” has a lot in common with them: they’re funny but honest.
Totally. Jeff Daniels in “Terms of Endearment” — I dislike him the whole time until he’s at the funeral, when he starts thinking about everything. When you see him crying and the regret just floods in, you sympathize with him immediately.