Chiara Aurelia’s initial reaction to reading the script for the R-rated “Luckiest Girl Alive”Jessica Knoll made a film adaptation of the novel. It was a movie of terror. That brought her even closer to this material.
“The first time that I read the script, my initial reaction was ‘Wow, this is terrifying,’ and thinking that the role was such a challenge and that it would really stretch me as a person,” she told in a recent interview alongside co-star Mila Kunis, who plays an older version of Aurelia’s character. “That immediately gravitated me towards it. And also I think I really look for — actresses like Mila have seriously paved the way for me at my age (at which co-star Kunis chuckled) — I’m saying even in the last 10 years, it’s changed so much to where there’s so many more multi-dimensional female characters.”
For Kunis, Knoll’s writing captivated her. Knoll’s novel was published in 2015, and she adapted the screenplay for the 2022 film herself, which follows the story of Ani FaNelli, an up-and-coming journalist and editor who does everything she can to outrun some dark times in her past.
“Jessica’s writing to me was extraordinary. It was one of the first scripts that I’ve read in a very long time where her genuine writing, her cadence, the way that her characters speak, are so specific to who she is,” Kunis said. “It’s like looking at a Diablo Cody script and without having the name on it, you read and go, ‘Oh, I know who’s the writer of the script.’ To me, Jess has the same gift and I was so excited to read a script that to me felt like it was a specific tone and just true to who she was as a writer.”
Ani, who worked hard to achieve many things her past self could only dream of, will soon embark on exciting new chapters in her life. She will be marrying a very wealthy man and will take up a highly-coveted editorial position at The New York Times Magazine. She begins to wonder if this is what she wants after a documentary filmmaker revisits some of her traumatic high school experiences.
“The opportunity to play like a young woman that has more than one thing going on, I think that Ani has so many things going on,”Aurelia stated. “And she’s so multi-dimensional and complex and getting the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of someone like Mila and be able to work on a film like this was honestly an incredible honor.”
Aurelia portrays the high school version of Ani, who is seen mostly in flashbacks to the high school trauma — three boys she considered friends sexually assaulting her in a gang rape, followed by a school shooting planned by two other boys who also used to be her friends.
Kunis initially stated that Ani could be in two forms, but later realized there are three.
“I realized that everybody kept referencing the fact that there’s a younger and an older version, and I was like, ‘Oh, no, sorry. Let me then clarify. There’s three.’ There’s a younger there’s an older but that’s numbers and irrelevant,”She said. “There’s the person that she puts forward as a persona as somebody that she hopes to be, that she hopes to be accepted that she hopes is the person that other people want her to be. And then there’s a person inside that’s that is trying to figure out who she is.”
These conflicting layers of Ani’s identity circle around her trauma, with which she copes in different ways like binge-eating, excessive exercise and obsession over wealth and status.
“There’s a young Ani, who at that point is still of the same. She’s figuring it out, but at least she’s allowing her inner thoughts and outer thoughts to all be vocal,” Kunis said. “Trauma happens and post-trauma, you bury that person and you bury them deep down inside and sometimes they make way and they start talking to you but you don’t allow that person to come to fruition.”
Aurelia explained that her approach to portraying traumatic events was one of intention. She did her best to keep it in tact.
“My intention as an actress is going to be different than the intentions of people more behind the scenes,”Aurelia stated. “My intention as an actress was more just to be able to come in and be as authentic and honest as I could be, and it was such an opportunity for me to be speaking [with the help of] other women and other people’s voices and to be able to stand there and try to handle it as best I could, being a young woman and trying to speak up for other young women.”
Kunis explained that they worked together RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization and Sandy Hook Promiseas well as other foundations, to aid in the two main scenes.
“We ended up working with RAINN and with Sandy Hook and with a lot of other amazing foundations that helped assist us in both of those traumatic scenes to make sure that they came across honest and true,”She said. “And not feeling like it was glorifying something that it shouldn’t be. We took into account a lot of people’s opinions and information and they were part of the script process. They were a part of the edit process. They were part of the whole thing.”
“Luckiest Girl Alive”Netflix is streaming this video. RAINN’s national hotline is 800.656.HOPE.