Is there anyone you look up to in Hollywood or whose career you admire?
I admire James Franco, I admire somebody like Jack Nicholson.
Kilmer takes on the role of Teddy, who can't seem to stay out of trouble -- thanks to his out-of-control friend Fred (Nat Wolff) -- and struggles to relay his feelings for high school crush, April (Emma Roberts). It was kind of an unusual audition because of the process with Gia.
She had written the script and invited me over to read it and to kind of put some of the lines in my own words. And then the cast came together and that was probably when I got most excited -- when the faces came to the characters. [Laughs] He’s really supportive and he would say like, “You just got to breathe and be super honest and tell the truth and take risks and just have so much fun.” And that was kind of it.
Do you enjoy doing independent films or would you rather be in blockbusters? Anything that would kind of label me or put me into a category is kind of what I want to avoid.
She wanted to hear it how I would naturally say it and ask me how it was being 17 and stuff. What was it like playing Teddy and how did you relate to him? I mean, I have a lot of friends who are great people, but kind of extreme people that would maybe be thought of as bad influences or just kind of reckless, even though they’re fascinating. I’ve always been really into movies and I definitely thought I’d be involved with movies at some point. I’d ask him for advice sometimes, but he also understood that I wanted to figure a lot of it out on my own, because that’s kind of just my style.
And then she said, "Okay, why don’t we put you on tape doing the same thing." Sort of a cool way for her to have me audition -- and then she offered it to me. I had a lot of friends like that growing up, which definitely related to Teddy’s relationship with Fred, Nat’s character. Even it was writing or directing or something and then when we were preparing for “Palo Alto,” I kind of discovered a mode of expression that I never thought I would end up doing. Did you get to talk to James Franco about the book and how to bring the character to life? It was kind of passed down from him to Gia and Gia to the screenplay.
Jack Kilmer, Val Kilmer's son with ex-wife and "Willow" co-star Joanne Whalley, makes his film debut in "Palo Alto," which is currently screening at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival in New York City.
Anyone who just does movies for the sake of making movies and takes big risks.What kind of movies do you want to do in the future?And I definitely related with the relationship with April in that I’ve always been shy, or not the most forward kind of person, when it comes to that. Did you always want to be an actor or was it something that just sort of happened? It’s funny, people asked me as a kid all the time, "Do you want to do what your parents do? James also really wanted Gia to have her own take on it. She’s an awesome person to hang with and be around and really gets, in her own way, everyone to get super into it." And I always said no, because it's different, I don’t know, to be stubborn or something. But then through this I realized what my parents have been doing their whole lives and I have like a completely different view of acting and I’m kind of really in love with it. Collaborating was something he really wanted to do with the film of his book, like to have somebody else’s imprint on it and see what comes of that. And what was it like playing opposite Nat Wolff and Emma Roberts?
So he kind of let Gia put the life into the characters. Did you get any advice from them on their film experiences? It was cool because they were so enthusiastic about it that they would naturally say things that I would take note of.The way they’d get excited about a scene before we’d do it and the way they would put that into action and actually go through with a certain beat or an idea of how to say something was such a cool learning experience.