Flipped: Interview with director Rob Reiner

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Rob Reiner is the director of "Flipped," an adaptation of the children's novel. The film, which stars Madeline Carroll and Callan McAuliffe, is being released by Warner Bros. on August 6.

Reiner credits his son, Nick, for bringing the story of "Flipped" to his attention. It was a book Nick was given at school, and which father and son read in tandem on a family trip. "As I was reading it, I thought, 'This is a beautiful piece of writing. It's a great story, true to life, funny, intelligent and really touching,'" Reiner recalls.

"It's about the relationship between two young people, Juli and Bryce, from the time they're seven years old till they're 13. It's told from their point of view but presented in a way that makes it just as much for adults because it will take them back to that moment when they first fell in love," he says. "Nobody ever forgets those feelings." 

Different than past work

Reiner's work has explored many facets of romantic relationships, in such films as "When Harry Met Sally," "The American President" and "The Princess Bride." Yet, Flipped, a novel by award-winning author Wendelin Van Draanen, struck him as something different. Says Reiner, "It was the first time I've encountered such an honest, realistic depiction of first love that really took me back. It offered such a keen observation of how we behave with each other at that age. It was just irresistible." 

Like the book, Reiner composed the film as a "he said/she said" exchange, alternating between Bryce's and Juli's telling of events–which reveals some surprising contradictions and a wealth of natural humor. "At first, you'd think it might get repetitive, but it's exactly the opposite," Reiner remarks. "It becomes fascinating to see both angles and these wildly different interpretations. You see how easy it is to misunderstand things and get your signals crossed, especially at that age." 

A young cast

"The 'Flipped' cast brings together so many wonderful actors, some of whom I've worked with before, into a real ensemble as the families of these two kids," says Reiner. "It goes without saying, they're all brilliant. But I knew from the start that this movie would depend upon finding two young actors who could carry the Juli and Bryce story. They would be the heart of it."

On Juli, "She is definitely a tomboy," Reiner agrees. "And what I remember about girls like that is that they were so adorable but they didn't make a fuss about it, and they had all this energy and spunk. That's what Juli is all about, and Madeline knew it. There's nothing forced about her performance; it's never overdone, always perfect."

The search for Juli's crush, Bryce Loski, was wider, ultimately reaching Australia, where the filmmakers found Callan McAuliffe, now 14. Reiner offers, "It was a difficult role to cast because, on top of everything else, we needed a young actor with a certain dreamy look. You have to believe that Juli fell for this guy the moment she saw him. Callan shows all his emotion in his face; you look at him and know what's going on inside, which is great because Bryce has a hard time expressing himself."