Photography via Instagram/@emmaroberts

Emma Roberts Talks Toronto Hot Spots, Little Italy and Aunt Julia’s Best Rom-Coms

"I think everybody loves a happy ending. Maybe it’s just that that can seem cheesy compared to real life."

In the new rom-com Little Italy (think Romeo and Juliet with pizza), Emma Roberts plays a young woman who returns to the old neigbhourhood. And things get cheesier than a margherita with extra mozz. Here, we chat with the American Horror Story actress (and Julia Roberts’ niece), about the rom-com resurgence, her famous aunt and why what the world needs right now is a little fromage.

Little Italy is a new take on the classic Romeo and Juliet story. What appealed to you about this particular version?
Well I love a rom-com—I’ve wanted to do one for so long. When this one came around it felt nostalgic. I love that it has elements of stories that have already been told, but there was this fresh twist. We had Don Petrie who is the director of Miss Congeniality, How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days, Mystic Pizza. I felt like I was in good hands. And then the cast was so amazing. I feel like in a rom-com especially, it’s all about the chemistry.

The movie was shot in Toronto. Did you get a chance to get to know the city?
Everybody from the cast got [to Toronto] a bit early, so we got a chance to hang out and get to know each other. Vinay [Virmani], who is one of the writers, was the ringleader and he would take us out for dinners, show us the city. I think shooting on location always makes people closer. Hayden [Christensen] is from here, but for everyone else it was like being away at summer camp. I feel like I found a lot of great spots because I’m the biggest foodie, so I like to make my own list in every city. I love Gusto 101. The cheeseburger at Fring’s was deadly. Bar Buca on King Street was my spot. And then I would go to Type Books all the time, pick up a book and go read it in Trinity Bellwoods Park.

Oh wow—so you had the full Toronto experience.
I love that park. I am literally going to go there and hang out as soon as I’m finished here. I miss it. I grew up in L.A. There was no reading in parks going on.

Speaking of classic Toronto experiences—you also appeared in a Drake video earlier this year. What was that like?
It was so fun. I got an email asking if I wanted to be in the [“Nice For What”] video and my first response was, I don’t think you have the right email. Speaking of badass female directors, Karena Evans—I’m so obsessed with her. Last night I had the perfect welcome to The Six—I got off the plane, went from the airport to the Drake show. That song was playing when I came in.

Were people like, oh my god—it’s the girl from the video?
I think they were looking at Drake, so I got to dance.

Did you know Drake before the video?
No. I still haven’t met him.

Is variety something you’re going for in terms of the projects you pick?
Always. I’m kind of open to doing any genre if it’s the right people involved, the right time in my life. I’m here promoting Little Italy and then I’m going home to shoot American Horror Story. I’m constantly having emotional whiplash. Earlier this year I did a dystopian thriller called Paradise Hills with Milla Jovovich, Danielle MacDonald, Awkwafina. It’s basically an all female cast. It’s about these girls who get sent to reform school and basically if you don’t comply to what it means to be a perfect young woman. So if you’re overweight, if you’re gay, if you’re single—that’s all considered wrong. It’s really messed up.

Sounds a bit like Handmaid’s Tale. Does everything going on in the world right now influence your creative choices?
I think yes in certain ways. And that’s the same with a movie like Little Italy. People want to laugh and smile and feel good. And then something like Paradise Hills feels really meaningful and badass and even just the opportunity to get so many women together and create something artistic—that was really attractive. The director is this young woman Alice Waddington. She’s my age and the story is her idea. I felt very empowered on that set.

Do you consider yourself s a feminist?
Yes. Of course. I am a feminist—one hundred and fifty percent.

What do you make of the recent rom-com resurgence?
I think it’s nostalgia and what is old is new again. I think it’s also that you see these movies stand the test of time. People are still watching My Best Friend’s Wedding, Notting Hill, How to Lose A Guy in 10 Days. I guess we need to make some fresh rom-coms for all the people who missed the first round.

You mentioned Mystic Pizza, Notting Hill. Your aunt Julia is kind of the queen of the rom-com. Do you have a favourite?
My Best Friend’s Wedding is my favourite movie. It’s the only movie I have downloaded on my computer and whenever I’m feeling homesick, I watch it.

Favourite scene?
When my aunt Julia is chasing Dermot [Mulroney] and Dermot is chasing Cameron [Diaz] and then Rupert Everett says: “You’re chasing him, and he’s chasing her. Who’s chasing you? Nobody!”

So good!
It’s funny because when I watched it when I was really young, I thought that [Julia] and Rupert ended up together. And then I re-watched it and it was like—what?

Did you consult your aunt for tips on your first rom-com?
Whenever I see her it’s all about her kids, my cousins and getting to hang out and do normal stuff and being family. I realized today that I haven’t even mentioned [Little Italy] to her.

One thing that’s different about the movie is that it’s actually describing itself as cheesy in terms of the promotion. Is cheese cool now?
I think everybody loves a happy ending. Maybe it’s just that that can seem cheesy compared to real life.

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