Youth In Revolt - Poster, Michael Cera and Portia Doubleday
Youth In Revolt - Poster Artwork, Michael Cera and Sheeni Saunders (Portia Doubleday) © Dimension Films

Newcomer Portia Doubleday takes on her first leading role opposite Michael Cera in the comedy Youth in Revolt, based on the popular C D Payne novels. Having grown up in Los Angeles, she was a freshman in college when she landed the coveted role of Sheeni Saunders in the movie.

Sheeni is a beautiful, witty, free-spirited teenager who Nick Twisp (Cera) is infatuated by. She persuades him to leave his conventional and boring ways behind him and in an attempt to be rebellious, he develops an alter ego named Francois, who will do anything to ensure Sheeni and he spend their life together.

Had you read the books that this was based on?

I read it before we started filming, but I hadn’t read it previously, my friends had all read it in high school. They had written assignments on it. You get to pick one of your summer reads and it is really articulate and intelligent enough for you to get away with it, even though it has a lot of really terrible things that happen. It’s a great read.

When you read a script where you’re going to be somebody’s dream girl, how do you approach that?

Youth In Revolt - Michael Cera and Portia Doubleday
Nick Twisp (Michael Cera) and Sheeni Saunders (Portia Doubleday) © Dimension Films

I don’t know, I guess I don’t approach it by thinking about it that way, because it can be a little bit overwhelming. But it’s hard not to fall in love with a girl who is like that. Who wouldn’t want to play a girl who is really confident, who has someone chasing after her, who is a little bit manipulative with a façade of being somewhat sweet? It was definitely fun.

Did Michael Cera have a say in who starred opposite him? Did you audition with him and was the rapport there right away?

Youth In Revolt - Michael Cera and Portia Doubleday
Nick Twisp (Michael Cera) and Sheeni Saunders (Portia Doubleday) © Dimension Films

Yes to both. With these kind of projects, when it’s this good and the material is so well written and because of the people involve, I think it’s so overwhelming and I’m so in over my head, the auditioning is actually easier. It’s like, ‘Wow, this is a long shot, I’m just going to go in there and do my best.’ I felt like I’d found a truth, and I kept coming back and I saw Michael the third time I came back. We worked for a couple of hours actually, and it just fit, it really felt great.

What does Sheeni see in Nick?

I think that there’s an attraction to him because he’s like her, and I think that he can somewhat figure her out, and can speak her language. I think that when he comes in and can actually hold a conversation with her, she’s kind of taken aback.

When you were working with Michael, were there differences when he was playing Nick or Francois?

Youth In Revolt - Michael Cera
Nick Twisp and Francois Dillinger (both Michael Cera) © Dimension Films

No, what’s so surprising, why I love Michael’s work so much is because it’s so subtle, so there isn’t this great transformation. It wasn’t like he came to the set and he had an accent and there was a whole big thing going on, everything is underplayed. I think that what makes Francois so sexy is that it’s the subtly of how he walks or the tone of his voice. So there wasn’t this big transformation, it was always having Michael around which is awesome, because he’s really funny.

What were you like at 16?

I was a little bit rebellious. I was rebelling against being old and not being able to play with my Barbie doll anymore. I think I dyed my hair black and left my eyebrows blond, I looked really awesome for a long time. I still got good grades so I was a kind of wannabe rebellious person that wasn’t really rebellious.


Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.