Roberts honored at Maui Film Festival
BY MALIKA DUDLEY / Special to the Star-Advertiser
WAILEA, Maui – The red-carpet photo gauntlet and a string back-to-back interviews must get a little exhausting for an actor. Reporters ask the same questions and stars repeat themselves over and over. Doesn’t sound like anyone’s idea of fun.
If that’s the case, Emma Roberts, who is in Wailea with her fiancé, actor Evan Peters, for the Maui Film Festival, didn’t give off that vibe. Roberts recently co-starred in the hit comedy, “We’re the Millers,” and has a lead role in the new indie film, “Palo Alto,” directed by Gia Coppola (granddaughter of Francis Ford Coppola).
The 23-year-old actress didn’t at all seem like the spoiled, entitled movie star she played in “American Horror Story: Coven.”
Peters has appeared in all three seasons of the creepy FX series and is one of the mutant stars of “X-Men: Days of Future Past.”
The couple appears to have an amazing partnership off-screen as well. At one point during an interview Thursday night, Roberts asked Peters for fashion advice. Lei or no lei?
“You should definitely wear the lei,” he replied.
Although acting runs in the family for Roberts (her dad is actor Eric Robers; her aunt is Oscar winner Julia Roberts), she seems down-to-earth and instantly put those around her at ease with her peppy personality and sweet demeanor.
Roberts was named this year’s Shining Star for being “a film artist who dares to dream big dreams and delivers brilliantly charismatic and revelatory performances every time that opportunity knocks.”
At Thursday’s festival awards presentation, she wore a vibrant red cocktail dress by DSquared2 and white pumps, a footwear choice she would come to regret as the entire event was held on the lawn. She joked about going barefoot.
While excited to be receiving the award, Roberts was just as thrilled about the surroundings and atmosphere.
“I need to come to Maui more! The compliments I’ve been getting are just crazy,” she said. “I know where to come if I’m ever feeling down.”
This is her first visit to Hawaii, but likely not her last.
“I’m in love with Maui,” she said. “I’m already planning my next trip here and I haven’t even left yet. It’s like nowhere I’ve ever been.”
Roberts was interested in learning more the lifestyle and culture of Hawaii. She wanted to know what type of flowers the lei were made of, asked about shell picking and even flashed a shaka.
THE SEASIDE CINEMA venue at the luxury Grand Wailea Hotel is stunning. It feels more intimate than the wide-open Celestial Cinema location on an expansive lawn in the Wailea Resort. Moviegoers arrive to stunning sunsets over the ocean, and the giant movie screen comes to life as darkness falls.
Barry Rivers, founder of the Maui Film Festival along with his wife Stella, greeted Roberts with a warm hug on stage to present the glistening silver Shining Star plaque.
Also in attendance was Guy Nattiv, director and screenwriter of the film being screened, “Magic Men.” Nattiv was there with his actress wife, Jaime Ray Newman, who had roles in the short-lived NBC series “Mind Games” and other shows including “Drop Dead Diva” and “Red Widow.” Nattiv’s film is a father-and-son drama based on his own life.
The Maui crowd was also pleased to see Joe Manganiello, “Magic Mike” star and 2014 Maui Film Fest honoree, sneak in to take a seat in the audience.
Manganiello will be presented the Triple Threat Award Friday for his role as a director, actor and producer. He’ll screen his new documentary about male strippers, “La Bare,” at the festival.
Look for Roberts’ new film, “Palo Alto,” when it opens in Hawaii later this month (tentative release date is June 20).
The film — the 27-year-old Coppola’s debut feature — is an adaptation of James Franco’s book of short stories about disaffected California youths. Roberts stars as April, a pretty but awkward high-schooler.
The reviews have been solid, with Associated Press critic Jake Coyle raving that Roberts, “who has often played bigger, more theatrical characters, has never been better. As April, she shows a shy vulnerability, and the gentle timidity of the performance echoes through the film.”
The Maui Film Festival runs through Sunday. For film times, venue information and ticket prices, go to mauifilmfestival.com.
Malika Dudley is a Maui-based meteorologist, entertainment reporter, jewelry designer and mother. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.