I was a late bloomer, so to speak, in picking up a hard copy of Stephen Chbosky’s cult-novel, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, but I did so this June, and I was sorry that I’d waited so long. It was a great read about coming of age and somewhat curious, too, as a great deal of the story is conveyed via letters to the reader from the main character, Charlie.
Poolside on vacation in South Beach, I started Perks, and finished it later on a different trip to Arizona. If I had longings for Pittsburgh during my travels, this novel – set in Pittsburgh and rich in hometown imagery – was a perfect antidote. This comes as no surprise as Chbosky is an Upper St. Clair native. His familiarity with the South Hills (my neck of the woods) shone through his writing and created wonderful mental images of all that’s unique and special about Pittsburgh.
Now, the novel has become a film – hitting theaters everywhere on Sept. 28 – and all of those wonderful images of Pittsburgh come to life on the big screen. Best thing ever: the scenes are filmed here, not in a pseudo-Pittsburgh created in some Hollywood studio.
Pittsburghers themselves won’t be the only ones amazed by our beloved city on the big screen – especially its classic entrance via the Fort Pitt Tunnel. Perks star Emma Watson, famous for her role as Hermione in the Harry Potter film series, was pretty amazed herself, and she told America about it on ABC daytime TV’s Live! with Kelly & Michael this morning.
In the video below, Watson recounts an unforgettable scene in which she – stands in the back of a pick-up truck being driven through the Fort Pitt Tunnel. She described a feeling of flight inspired by the grandeur of Pittsburgh’s nighttime skyline enveloping her as the truck emerges from the tunnel.
“You just burst through into this beautiful, beautiful scene of the whole city stretching out,” Watson said. “I haven’t been able to top it; it’s like one of the best moments of my life.”
She also notes that “Steve” — the novelist-turned-film director — “has been dreaming about filming this shot for over a decade.”
Just think, folks, Hollywood didn’t create this. It’s pure Pittsburgh. And it’s ours. Savor the moment on your next night-time trip through the Fort Pitt. You probably won’t be standing in the back of a pick-up truck when it happens, but it can always be an impossible-to-top moment.
And put The Perks of Being a Wallflower on your must-see movie list for this fall.
Phil Cynar is senior communications specialist at the Allegheny Conference on Community Development. By trade and by choice, he is a proud promoter of the Pittsburgh region.