Starring Mare of Easttown's Angourie Rice and Stranger Things' Gaten Matarazzo, Honor Society is a coming-of-age, high school comedy that's not afraid to tip its hat (or should that be graduation cap?) to the classics.
The movie casts Rice as Honor, an ambitious student obsessed with getting into Harvard and determined to bag a recommendation from her guidance counselor, Mr. Calvin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) – first though, she must deal with her biggest competition: the smart but socially awkward Michael Dipnicky (Matarazzo).
Speaking to RadioTimes.com, Rice explained that she drew on teen movie classics of yesteryear in her portrayal of Honor.
"Election, Clueless, Mean Girls, Ferris Bueller's Day Off... they were all inspiration for the movie in terms of how I wanted to portray Honor and how I wanted the audience to feel about her.
"I love those movies so much. Clueless is one of my favourite movies of all time and what I love about it is you see this young woman go on a journey where she doesn't change completely, but she learns and she grows and she adapts.
"I think that's the great thing about Honor as well. By the end of the movie, she's still who she is, but she's learned some valuable lessons along the way."
Honor is driven, even ruthless, in her mission as she flirts with top student Dipnicky in an effort to distract him, but Rice was keen not to smooth out the spikier side of her character's personality.
"That's always the excitement when you read a script for anything – how are we going to get the audience on our side? And I think that was the interesting thing for me reading Honor Society.
"I immediately loved and sympathised with Honor. I saw a lot of myself in her – if I'd watched this movie in high school, it would have meant a lot to me in terms of confidence and just owning your ambition and your drive. That's something that I really admire about her.
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"But there is that other side to her that's ruthless, and she makes some decisions that are definitely questionable. So it's that challenge as an actor of, how do I justify this as a character? And how do you convey that to the audience in a way that is believable?"
Rice even worked with director Oran Zegman to prepare notes for every scene, detailing where Honor was on her journey at that point in the film. "Usually I go through and I annotate [the script] but I took extra care with Honor Society because she's in every single scene of this movie, so we go on a big arc.
"The director and I did it together to just map out her entire journey, how she's feeling in each scene, where her head's at. Is she second guessing herself? Is she going for it with no regrets? Because she has a lot of ups and downs in the movie, so it was really helpful to map it all out and write it all down."
It's not spoiling too much to say that Honor's plot is complicated when she starts to develop real feelings for Dipnicky, with Rice recalling an instant chemistry with Matarazzo when they first met.
"I remember meeting Gaten for the first time – we did a rehearsal together where we read through all the scenes. And it was just so fun. I just remember thinking, 'Oh, this is gonna be the the greatest when we film it, because he's so energetic.' He's so positive and committed.
"There are lots of layers to Honor's relationship with Michael and how they feel about each other, so that's really interesting. I love the way the scenes were written and the way we got to play around with it where they're saying one thing but they mean something else. They've got this undercurrent of other emotions."
Honor Society is streaming now, exclusively on Paramount Plus – get Paramount Plus for no extra cost on Sky, or get a seven-day free trial of Paramount Plus on Amazon Prime Video.
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