Stephen Chbosky Interview: Author Sees His Characters Come To Life In 'Perks Of Being A Wallflower' Movie

This image released by Summit Entertainment shows Emma Watson, left, and Logan Lerman in a scene from "The Perks of Being a W
This image released by Summit Entertainment shows Emma Watson, left, and Logan Lerman in a scene from "The Perks of Being a Wallflower." (AP Photo/Summit Entertainment, John Bramley)

By Rosemary Anguiano

Rosemary is a senior at Whitney Young Magnet High School. She is a student reporter for The Mash, a weekly teen publication distributed to Chicagoland high schools.

Stephen Chbosky, writer and director of “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” visited Chicago in August and told The Mash that he’s been carrying something around for almost two decades: the story of Charlie, Patrick and Sam. We talked to him about seeing his characters come to life.

Which character do you relate to the most?

Stephen Chbosky: I relate to Charlie the most because Charlie’s very personal to me. A lot of his points of view are my points of view (such as) ... when you look around and you want people to be happy. ... You know, feeling infinite ... just the openness he had to just experience life.

Was there a specific reason why you chose the name Charlie?

SC: It just felt right. When I started writing the book I didn’t have his name, and when I wrote that first “Love always,” I just knew it was Charlie. It was just something that happened.

In the book, the tunnel song was “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac, but in the movie it was “Heroes” by David Bowie. Why the change?

SC: You know, I love “Landslide,” but I felt like once I had the footage and when I saw Emma (Watson) standing up in the back of that truck, it was so terrific. ... I had to find something that was grand and “Heroes” is ... so cathartic and so we just had to go with it.

If you had to write a background story of another character, who would it be?

SC: Sam. Because Sam has been through so many different things and she’s going to a very interesting place in her life. If I were ever to write a sequel to that book I would probably title it “Sam.”

So you’re interested in seeing where Charlie and Sam would go?

SC: Yes. It’s funny because I didn’t expect that. This is one of those lovely experiences where the movie completely grew my appreciation of the book. Logan (Lerman) and Emma are fantastic together; they’re just perfect. And their love story in “Perks” hit me (in) a way I didn’t expect it to hit me.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

SC: See, before I met my wife, I never watched reality television. But my wife loves watching “(Keeping Up With) The Kardashians,” “Toddlers & Tiaras,” “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” and “Jersey Shore.” I didn’t know about any of this stuff five years ago and now it’s most of what I watch.

If I say Chicago, the first thing you think of is ...

SC: Pizza and hot dogs. ... I don’t know how you people are alive, I don’t. God, that’s some heavy food! But it’s so good!

What do you think of when high school comes to mind?

SC: I think of dances. ... I do think of soccer because I loved to play the game. And pressure, because I remember the pressure that you feel to find the right school and to try to envision a future that’s a little out of your reach. I remember it very well.