Michael Angarano Learns the “Art of Getting By”

Written and directed by Gavin Wiesen, “The Art of Getting By” stars Freddie Highmore as George, a bright and talented kid at a tony Upper West Side prep school who’s been doing just enough to pass from one grade to the next, who suddenly finds himself in danger of not graduating high school. Making studying even more difficult is his distractingly beautiful new friend, Sally, played by Emma Roberts.

When George can’t find the courage to make a move, his mentor Dustin, played by Michael Angarano, tells him to get down to business. And when George fails to heed the advice, Dustin does what any reasonable young man does in the face of a pretty young woman…

Michael Angarano was born and raised in the streets of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, less than 15 miles northeast from most of the action in his new film, “The Art of Getting By,” but light-years away in terms of lifestyle.

“Growing up for me—if my life was made into a movie like ‘Tree of Life,’ a sweeping epic—shots would be of me playing Wiffle Ball in the street and hanging out and running in the streets with my friends in Brooklyn and Staten Island,” Angarano told PopcornBiz.

But George lives a very comfortable uptown life of means, a way of life Angarano didn’t really encounter until he moved west to pursue his acting career.

“Being an actor in LA, you see characters you’ve only read in Bret Easton Ellis novels, these privileged kids who have the resources to do anything. And so I understand both sides of it…I’ve hung out with these kids who can have private jets and rent out clubs even though they’re under 21. It’s foreign to me, it’s a lifestyle I’ve never fully related to.”

And it wasn't just Dustin’s modest Brooklyn-loft life that resonated with Angarano, but also his place in the world at this time in his life.

“When I originally read the script three or four years ago, I was reading for the part of George, and my least favorite part of the script was (Dustin), because Gavin did such a nice job of writing it, that he’s obviously the tool who you kind of don’t want (Sally) to be with but is obviously going to be with her.  But there’s a humanity to (Dustin)… that you can’t blame her and you can’t blame him."

“I think the character captured a very specific point in my life, which I related to so much that it’s really hard for me to talk about it. I related to it so profoundly. And that’s basically why I wanted to do it." 

After “Art,” Angarano can be seen Oct. 19 getting held captive by religious fanatics in Kevin Smith’s “Red State,” and on Thursday it was announced that “Haywire” will be arriving Jan 2012, where Angarano co-stars with MMA star Gina Carano.

"I can only say that I had a really great time making [“Haywire”]. I had such a fun time working with Gina. Working with Steven Soderbergh is unparalleled, he’s one of the few geniuses working. I’m so excited. Basically everything that you know about it is probably all I can really say. There’s not much, it’s basically his version of a Bourne movie with this girl who actually can kick somebody’s a** for real—and she did beat people up. Not me—I had her show me what a rear naked chokehold was—naked."

Pause. Laugh. "No, not really naked,” he says.

“The Art of Getting By” opens June 17.

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