‘The Friendship Game’: Peyton List talks twists, turns and power of relationships

Peyton List
Peyton List as Zooza in ‘The Friendship Game.’
RLJE Films

High school friendships always go through ebbs and flows, but in ‘The Friendship Game,’ that concept is certainly turned up a few notches. From writer Damien Ober and director Scooter Corkle, the new mind-bending film stars Peyton List along with an impressive cast of friends who we see in the feature test their relationships through a game they find at a yard sale.

It starts out as innocent fun, but then goes on to reveal different natures of people’s personalities—and as audiences, you can’t quite discern what’s true and what is part of the game. That same problem rings true for the characters as well. To discuss the concept a bit more, star Peyton List sat down to delve into why she wanted to sign on with ‘The Friendship Game,’ why it’s part of a new revolution of films and how friendships can provide some of the most powerful dynamics.

Peyton List
Peyton List, Brendan Meyer, Kelcey Mawema and Kaitlyn Santa Juana in ‘The Friendship Game.’RLJE Films

Why sign on with ‘The Friendship Game’? 

I heard about this movie a couple of years before, and it took a while because with independent projects it can take time to get the whole group together. But Scooter Corkle—the director—he’s super passionate. He wrote me a letter before we started just saying how he thinks I should bring myself to this role and just be as authentic and true to myself [with it], and be vulnerable in this movie in a different way than I ever have before. And that letter is really what sold it to me. I liked the script and I loved the concept, but you always want to have that bond with the people behind the scenes too. And Scooter really is a great guy. 

That makes sense, especially with indie movie sets being more intimate. 

Definitely. You are going to work really tightly with every crew member because it is so much smaller and everyone’s there to create something versus just being there for the money. And I love that part of it. 

Let’s talk more about your character, Zooza. What did you and Scooter chat about in regard to her and how would you describe her?

Zooza is such a cool character. [We see] all of her friends are about to leave for college and she’s the only one who doesn’t really have her life figured out. She doesn’t know where she wants to go or what she wants to do… And her dad left her and her mom when she was younger, so she’s sort of struggling with that idea again because her best friend Cotton goes missing. It just brings up this whole insecurity for her— Cotton probably just left her, [like] her dad did. She’s struggling with so many things at this big time in her life when she’s coming of age, and that just really spoke to me. There’s something so special about that age coming out of high school and figuring yourself out, and I loved that. 

Peyton List
RLJE Films

It’s interesting you bring up high school, because I was thinking throughout the movie about how that time was when I relied on my friends the most.

Me too. You listen to your parents but then you needed another voice helping you out, [someone] who understands you from a different perspective. I think something like ‘The Friendship Game’ can sound maybe cheesy… But this friendship runs deeper than that, and I think there is something really beautiful about friendship and a chosen family.

Let’s talk more about some of Zooza’s relationships then. How do they evolve over the course of the film and how are they tested? 

It’s sort of hearing one thing, but then knowing who a person is truly at their core. The game starts making people say things that they normally wouldn’t. [The game] starts lighthearted and everyone tells it their deepest desire—and that deepest desire kind of comes back and starts messing with their mind in different ways, and just making them act really out of character. It definitely made me think about how people are complicated and [how] people are so much more than one thing and how people have bad moments, bad days, and how you have to know who your friend is or know who this person is at the end of the day. 

There are a lot of twists and turns in ‘The Friendship Game,’ what would you tell audiences to expect in that regard?

For me, when reading the script and even when shooting— it goes in directions I would never have expected and it really surprised me. Damien (Ober) writes for ‘The OA’, and he’s an incredible writer that knows this genre so well. I just love something that takes a certain type of movie where you think it’s going to go one way and just turns it on its head. And I also feel like there are so many movies like that this year— it’s sort of a theme going on right now and yeah. 

Peyton List
RLJE Films

And why do you think we have that theme going on?

I think we’ve just seen so much of the same for a while. Everything’s a reboot or there’s nothing new, [and now] I feel like people are just kind of taking a concept and flipping it on its head. It’s a really exciting time in film and television, and I’m more excited about watching things than I ever have been lately. People are just really experimenting and really going for it. And I want to say it’s [also] because of COVID, and having to sit with our minds and being kind of tortured by our own mind. Mental health and the mind— it’s such a conversation now, as it should be, and it’s just such a relevant topic. I feel like we’re awakening in this time to so much. 

Catch ‘The Friendship Game‘ in theaters, On Demand and on digital beginning Nov. 11. 

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