SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
Rob Reiner has a new film about young people who are confused, troubled, searching and who are sometimes a pain in the rear, not to mention the heart. "Being Charlie" is the story of an 18-year-old boy who runs away from rehab again while his father, a former film star, runs for governor of California. And then he's returned by his parents to a new rehab program in southern California that includes group discussions between parents and children.
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BEING CHARLIE")
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS #1: (As Cathy) What have I ever done to you but love you?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS #2: (As character) Jimmy, do you have anything you'd like to say to that?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As Jimmy) Not really.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS #2: (As character) Thank you for being so open and sharing Cathy (ph). Cathy, are you OK?
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS #3: (As Cathy) I'm fine. I just relate to what Cathy was saying.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS #2: (As character) Of course.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: (As character) The crying Cathys (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS #2: (As character) Dylan (ph), I'm so glad that both of your moms could be here today.
SIMON: Rob Reiner is a producer and the director of the film that is written by Nick Reiner and Matt Elisofon. Rob and Nick Reiner join us from the studios of NPR West. Thanks so much for being with us.
ROB REINER: Well, thanks for having us, Scott.
NICK REINER: Thank you.
SIMON: Let me get this question to both of you out of the way first, though I can't say we won't return to it. To what degree is this your story?
R. REINER: Well, I mean, Nick can answer that. I mean, you know, he's the heart and soul of the film. So he can probably answer that better than anybody.
N. REINER: I'm also the pain in the rear.
N. REINER: But it's a lot of stuff I experienced, a lot of stuff Matt experienced and a lot of stuff that we witnessed people say and talk about.
R. REINER: Yeah, I mean, what we tried to do is, you know, take the essence of our experience and what we all went through and try to, you know, make a, you know, a theatrical, you know, drama about it, a comedy too. You know, it's a piece of fiction but it's drawn from our lives.
SIMON: Yeah. Nick Reiner, Charlie, the character you've created, and I don't know to what degree he is a stand-in narratively for you and your co-writer, he can be hard to like, can't he?
N. REINER: Yes, probably so. A lot of people that go through addictions of all kinds are kind of hard to love when they're doing those sorts of things. I guess the character was to show how ugly it gets.
SIMON: Oh, yeah, and it sure does. I mean when he steals OxyContin from a sick old woman who really needs it.
N. REINER: Yeah, it's unfortunate. But it's the reality of what goes down.
SIMON: Did you ever do anything like that or know someone who did?
N. REINER: I'm all for honesty, so I have definitely done things similar to that. I can't say I've done that in quite some time. But when I was going through a lot of that stuff, sure. You really don't think about anything. You throw your morals out of the window.
SIMON: And when Charlie says, I wanted to kill the noise, what does that mean?
N. REINER: For me, that means - I think for maybe some other people - that when you're growing up during those formative years, you kind of have a lot of stuff that pops into your head. And there's a lot of stuff that you don't know how to deal with because you're young and you think you know everything. And when you really start to know something, it's when you say I don't know anything.
SIMON: Rob Reiner, a hard movie to make?
R. REINER: Well, it was in some ways. But in other ways, it was the most satisfying creative experience I've ever had because I got to work with Nick. And even though, you know, we had struggled through some difficult times and the making of the movie certainly dredged those things up, it was also an opportunity to work through a lot of that stuff.
SIMON: That must be wonderful, particularly after you've gone through problems, to work together.
R. REINER: Oh, yeah. No, I mean, it's, you know, when we went through it in, you know, in reality, you only get your side of it. You only see your side.
SIMON: Nick Reiner, I got to tell you, I felt a certain despair at several points in the film because as a reporter over the years, I'm sure I've done 100 stories about various rehab and treatment programs. And your film shows the people in those programs definitely just going through the motions, humoring their counselors, saying what they have to to get out of there and then get back to what they were doing. Is that how it is?
N. REINER: That's definitely how it is. And a lot of the people that pretend that they're really improving end up doing even worse than the people that were like, you know, I don't care about this, you know, this - I'm not taking to this. The people that lie their way through the whole thing, I've seen a couple cases in particular where the person would get mad at me and then be, you know, a stickler for the rules. And then I hear, six months later, they got out and they're dead.
R. REINER: I mean, Nick was telling me the other day, I mean, that the programs that he was in, that he knew of at least, you know, 30 people who had been through it and would - wound up, you know, dead. It's a rough thing to go through and it needs a lot of care and attention and people who really know how to help people, rather than just cookie cutter-type programs.
SIMON: I must say there's a nice moment when Charlie and his friend say to the counselor played by Common, this place is like a prison. And Common, as the counselor, (laughter) corrects them.
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BEING CHARLIE")
COMMON: (As Travis) It's not even close. You see these?
SIMON: He rolls up his arms to show the tattoos.
(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BEING CHARLIE")
COMMON: (As Travis) You think I got these at a tattoo parlor in Hollywood? Be grateful it's 90 days here and not two years in county. But don't worry, if you're not dead, you'll probably end up dead anyway.
R. REINER: Because he was actually in prison and it's a lot different. It's even rougher.
SIMON: And, Nick Reiner, I wonder what about those people who might see the film and see Charlie as a spoiled kid from a rich Hollywood family and wonder, what's his problem. He's had all the advantages in life.
N. REINER: It's definitely crossed my mind because I am a spoiled, white, rich kid from a Hollywood family. But I think it's even more of a testament to how powerful drugs can be that you don't care about any of that stuff
SIMON: Yeah. Do you two want to work together again?
R. REINER: Oh, yeah.
N. REINER: Yeah.
R. REINER: I mean it...
N. REINER: But I think for now, it's best, for me at least, to sort of be more independent. But that's not to say I didn't have an amazing experience.
R. REINER: Nick - you know, and I said it to his face, I'll say it on the air - he was the heart and soul of the film. And anytime I would get an opportunity to work with him, I would do it. But I do understand him wanting to forge his own way. I do know what that's about. I went through it and, you know, he's brilliant and talented and he's going to figure out his path.
SIMON: Rob Reiner is the director. Nick Reiner is the co-writer of the movie "Being Charlie." Gentlemen, thanks so much for being with us.
R. REINER: Thanks for having us.
N. REINER: Thank you.
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