Julianne Moore’s recent characters know their way around a mid-life crisis.
Garnering acclaim for roles in The Kids Are All Right and Game Change, Moore excels at playing complicated women, a trend that is set to continue with Linda Sinclair, her character in the new film The English Teacher. Moore plays the titular high school teacher, a woman whose life outside the classroom hasn’t always measured up to her work inside. When a former student, Jason (Michael Angarano), returns home after failing as a playwright in New York, Linda refuses to let him give up his dream, and decides to mount his new controversial production at the school.
That may have been fine, but Linda also begins a relationship with Jason, which leads to an awkward love triangle between Linda, Jason, and Lily Collins’ “drama student extraordinaire” character, Halle — which naturally gives way to some combative scenes between Collins and Moore. “My character is kind of the catalyst for Julianne Moore’s character going a little bit crazy,” Collins tells EW. “[Moore’s character] is kind of having this mid-life crisis, and me calling her out on her relationship with Michael and the play kind of start her on this downward spiral where she shows she’s a bit of a mess.”
For Collins, who last appeared onscreen as Snow White in Mirror Mirror and will star in this summer’s hopeful franchise The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, the experience of working on a smaller movie was part of the appeal of the project. “The whole idea [that] this character got to go up against Julianne, I just saw as an amazing opportunity even if it was just a couple scenes,” Collins says about her work with her respected co-star. “I’d never done an independent film before and I thought it would be the best way to kind of introduce [myself] to that [world]. Not to mention, you don’t turn down an opportunity to work with Julianne! It’s the best way to learn and have experience.”
The “feel-good comedy about first judgments” also stars Greg Kinnear as Jason’s overbearing father and Nathan Lane, whom Collins worked with on Mirror Mirror, as the high-school drama teacher. Check out an EW exclusive image of the official poster below:
The English Teacher, directed by Craig Zisk, is available On Demand and on digital platforms Apr. 16 and will have its theatrical premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 26. It opens in theaters on May 17.