Film

Nat Wolff, Emma Roberts talk about Ashby, releasing this September

The Film Arcade has set a September release date for the romantic comedy-drama “Ashby”. The film has an amazing cast behind it, including stars Nat Wolff and Emma Roberts.

The film follows Ed Wallis (Nat Wolff) the new kid in town, recently relocated with his newly single mom (played by Sarah Silverman). Already a bit of an eccentric, it’s not clear how Ed’s going to fit in at his new school where football players are revered – and it doesn’t help that brainy Ed secretly thinks he can be a great wide receiver.

Likewise, the only person he connects to is the equally intelligent Eloise (Emma Roberts), though he’s unable to admit his deep feelings for her.

That all starts to change when Ed is given a class assignment to interview “an older person” about life. Not really knowing anyone “old” in the area, Ed asks his tough-looking neighbor, Ashby Holt (Mickey Rourke), if he wouldn’t mind helping Ed out. For his part, Ashby has just received a terrible diagnosis from his doctor – something that the gruff, reclusive tough guy doesn’t want to deal with. But it means he can’t drive, and agrees to be Ed’s subject as long as Ed can drive him where he needs to go (which is basically the local bar).

Ed’s opinion about Ashby changes when he discovers that Ashby isn’t a retired salesman, but in fact a CIA hit man with nearly a hundred professional jobs completed. Learning about Ashby’s secret – and realizing that he needs to think about the long-term implications of his own actions – gives Ed a new perspective on life, and prompts him to start taking chances and being more courageous, often with unexpected results.

Ashby, meanwhile, has his own journey as Ed’s questions lead him to realize that some of his targets may have been personal, not political. With limited time left, Ashby tries to find his own courage to set things right. In a poignant and often hilarious grown-up coming-of-age buddy story, ASHBY finds both the joy and the heartbreak of discovering who we are and living life on our own terms.

“Ashby’s a character who lives by a code and very entrenched beliefs about himself, his country, masculinity and his religion. Whereas Ed is a secular kid who doesn’t really have much to believe in or trust, so he’s a bit lost,” says McNamara. “I was interested in the idea of those divergent ways of looking at life, coming together and what they would do to each other.”

McNamara’s script was inspired by one of movie history’s oddest couplings of divergent characters: “Harold and Maude” directed by Hal Ashby. McNamara is a huge fan of the late director (hence Rourke’s characters name) and the movie starring Ruth Gordon and Bud Cort.

Later on in the process when McNamara knew that he wanted Wolff to play opposite Rourke, he had the two actors read and improvise together at Rourke’s house. “As soon as we saw them together, the chemistry was obvious. They were a lot of fun and they were having fun and everyone knew they were going to be great together,” said producer Josh Kesselman.

Wolff and Roberts on the other hand, have each known each other since they were children. “I’ve known him since I was taller than him which has to be a long time ago, since he’s now a giant…and, well, I’m not,” said Roberts.

“What I loved about the script was that it read like a novel,” says Roberts. “Eloise very much knows who she is and has no apologies. Ed on the other hand is searching for who he is and maybe the courage that Eloise and Ashby both have,” says Roberts.

Prior to the beginning of production, Wolff had to go through some football training to approximate a star wide receiver. “My favorite part of making the movie was that I got to fulfill a lifelong dream of being a football player,” says Wolff.

“I love the community of being part of a team—even if it’s a fake team. But I worked my ass off and trained with Nate Poole who was a receiver for the New Orleans Saints. I sort of sucked at the beginning and the other guys on the South Mecklenburg high school team didn’t seem to pleased helping me train but I think I earned their respect because I worked really hard.”

The film is set to release in theaters and on demand on September 25, 2015.