Alexander Skarsgard and Bel Powley star in Marielle Heller‘s The Diary of a Teenage Girl as a man-child and a teenager, respectively, who find themselves in the midst of an affair.

‘The Diary of a Teenage Girl’ Exclusive

In 1970s San Francisco, Minnie (Powley), a teenage girl living with her single mother Charlotte (Kristen Wiig), aspires to be an artist as she goes through the motions of high school. Her ordinary life takes on another dimension when she loses her virginity and ends up having a sexual relationship with her mother’s boyfriend Monroe (Skarsgard).

Heller brings the narrative to life onscreen through the lens of Minnie’s diary.

“It all kind of really takes place in [Minnie’s] mind. She doesn’t feel like she’s a victim, so we can’t feel like she’s a victim,” Heller told uInterview in an exclusive interview. “She feels like everything is experimenting and exploring, is kind of fun – until it isn’t. So it was really important that we were always always in her mind’s eye and sometimes that means the sexuality is really hot. And sometimes it means it’s really awkward and funny, and sometimes it takes on all those different forms because that’s what life is like and that’s what sex is really like.”

Powley, 23, was eager to get the chance to show an honest portrayal of a female teenager’s sexual awakening and everything that might entail – which is rarely explored in film.

“I think often people are afraid to talk about female sexuality in teenage girls, and this was kind of the first thing I ever read that was just like really honestly saying, ‘Oh, well teenage girls they get horny and they become sexual and they want to explore that part of themselves,'” Powley explained. “I wanted to show that unapologetically.”

Skarsgard’s character Monroe in the film is 35, but the actor found that his character’s mental age was much more on par with that of Minnie. By getting into the headspace of an emotionally stunted adult, Skarsgard found it easier to connect with Monroe, and to explore how the relationship with Minnie would unfold.

“I think he’s desperately holding on to his own idea of himself as a kid,” said Skarsgard, who sees Monroe in many ways as a 15-year-old. “It’s like he’s also really afraid of commitment and getting old and maturing and taking responsibility. I think that was a way for us to find a connection and make the connection real and genuine, to find those moments when they were just two teenagers in love.”

“That was kind of the interesting journey I guess of discovering who Monroe was, and not to make it too predatory,” Skarsgard added. “I wanted to make it confusing for the audience.”

Check Out Alexander Skarsgard’s uBio HERE

Though Powley has been acting professionally since 2007, working on The Diary of a Teenage Girl provided her first onscreen kiss. Instead of finding the prospect daunting, Powley embraced the opportunity to bring truth to the story of a young girl’s first experiences with sex. It was also made easier by the way in which she was able to flesh out her character’s actions with Heller and Skarsgard.

Alexander Skarsgard On Nude Scenes

“I was excited at the prospect of kind of showing sex in an honest way from the female perspective, showing a female body on screen that’s like a normal teenage girl not some Hollywood-ized version of a woman that we get so much,” Powley told uInterview. “We had two weeks of rehearsal beforehand where we kind of just like got to the bare bones of Minnie and Monroe’s relationship and emotionally mapped everything out. So once we got down to doing it, everything felt really truthful and nothing felt gratuitous. It all felt right for the moment.”

Skarsgard, who is no stranger to nude scenes, added, “If you know why you’re there and you know like how this piece of the puzzle fits into the storytelling, sex scenes aren’t awkward. They’re only awkward if it’s gratuitous and you’re like, ‘What? Why am I naked right now?’ But if you build up that trust with your filmmaker and your costars, and you’re excited about the story you’re telling and how it fits in, it’s not a problem is it?”

Diary of a Teenage Girl hits theaters in limited release Friday, Aug. 7.

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Q: Bel, what were you trying to portray with your character in the film? -

I guess we were just trying to show a real depiction of what it feels like to be a teenage girl, because that often isn’t shown truthfully on film or in any sort of media. I think often people are afraid to talk about female sexuality in teenage girls, and this was kind of the first thing I ever read that was just like really honestly saying, “Oh, well teenage girls they get horny and they become sexual and they want to explore that part of themselves.” And yeah, I wanted to show that unapologetically.

Q: Marielle, how were you trying to depict female sexuality in the film? -

Well, I was trying to show female sexuality from the female perspective, which is the thing I don’t think we get to see most of the time. Whether or not we realize it or not, most of the times we see sexuality portrayed it’s from a male perspective, an adult perspective. I was really trying to show this whole movie is really from the perspective of the teenage girl. It all kind of really takes place in her mind. She doesn’t feel like she’s a victim, so we can’t feel like she’s a victim. She feels like everything is experimenting with and exploring, is kind of fun – until it isn’t. So it was really important that we were always always in her mind’s eye and sometimes that means the sexuality is really hot. And sometimes it means it’s really awkward and funny, and sometimes it takes on all those different forms because that’s what life is like and that’s what sex is really like.

Q: Alexander, how does your character relate to Bell? -

AS: Well Monroe is 35 in a relationship with Minnie’s mother and then he struck up this thing behind Charlotte – the mother's – back, and I think what he’s drawn to is a couple of different things. He’s drawn to in many ways... In the way of approaching the character, is to see him in many ways as a 15 year old boy. And I think he’s desperately holding on to his own idea of himself as a kid. That was a way for me to find out [who he was]. Because he talks about like in the future: “I got my vitamin business, I’m going to buy this boat, and I’m going to do this and all that.” But at the same time, “I’m going to go to Easton and better myself,” and all that kind of stuff. But it’s like he’s also really afraid of commitment and getting old and maturing and taking responsibility. I think that was a way for us to find a connection and make the connection real and genuine, to find those moments when they were just two teenagers in love. But there were moments when he was like, “No, I’m in a relationship with your mother no, no, no this is not happening,” and like he plays the part of the mature responsible grown man. He doesn’t play it very well and for very long because he kind of slips back into this... “What’s real?” That was kind of the interesting journey I guess of discovering who Monroe was, and not to make it too predatory. I wanted to make it confusing for the audience.

MH: And isn’t that true of all of us? That once you get to be kind of an adult, you don’t necessarily feel emotionally like that’s your real age? You still identify with yourself at some point in the past – often when you were a teenager. You still think of yourself in that way.

AS: And some people need to escape from that more desperately than others, and he definitely wanted to get away from that.

Q: What was it like shooting the film’s intimate scenes? -

BP: Alex was my first on screen kiss. So I’d never done anything like that before. I think it was exciting.

MH: Now you’ve done everything.

BP: Now I’ve done it all. No, I was excited at the prospect of kind of showing sex in an honest way from the female perspective, showing a female body on screen that’s like a normal teenage girl not some Hollywoodized version of a woman than we get so much. Alex and I, Mari had like two weeks rehearsal before. We did all the sex scenes in the first week. But we had two weeks of rehearsal beforehand where we kind of just like got to the bare bones of Minnie and Monroe’s relationship and emotionally mapped everything out. So once we got down to doing it, everything felt really truthful and nothing felt gratuitous. It all felt right for the moment. Yeah, I mean of course it was nerve-racking.

AS: And that’s the key isn’t it? If you know why you’re there and you know like how this piece of the puzzle fits into the storytelling, sex scenes aren’t awkward. They’re only awkward if it’s gratuitous and you’re like, “What? Why am I naked right now?” But if you build up that trust with your filmmaker and your costars, and you’re excited about the story you’re telling and how it fits in, it’s not a problem is it?