As a ‘journalist’ (I hate using that term, because I am hardly reporting to you live from a war zone) it is rare to interview an actress who doesn’t have a publicist prying on the conversation – especially when said actress, has absolutely no filter at all. It is also rare for any actress to be catapulted to meme worthy fame in the blink of an eye, but in case you haven’t gathered already Jessica Barden is not your everyday actress. She’s the kind of actress you can wait years to meet and instantly idolize.
To say Jessica’s world has exploded in the last few weeks is an understatement. The black comedy, The End of the F**king World
which follows two mid teens running away from home (think Juno
without the pregnancy and the Hollywood gloss via Jennifer Garner) hit Netflix
as 2018 dawned. Since then she has gained 600k Instagram followers, and as we speak, she’s in the departure lounge preparing to jet off to LA for dinner with Rachel Evan Wood to discuss a top secret project. As one does.
You might ask why after ten years of acting this has suddenly happened to Jess? She’s asking herself the same question after all, “I thought I had experienced everything minus getting married or having a child. I just never thought an over night success would ever happen to me!”
The show in question not only has a ‘wild’ title but Jessica character’s has the internal and external dialogue to match. One monologue includes, “sometimes I think about becoming an alcoholic because they always have something to do,” whilst more open discussions are reserved for debating her ‘pussy’ - for instance. Hardly the usual teenage girl conversation topics typically propelled onto the screen and how bloody refreshing is that!
Jessica’s deadpan delivery of these lines makes her performance seem impossible. It switches from being devilishly funny to gut wrenchingly dark in a flash, making for one of the most complex portrays of teenage angst I have ever seen. Scrap that, I am twenty-eight and still suffering from the same levels of angst - don’t pretend you aren’t too! It speaks to its audience like no other.
So without further a-do here is Jessica Barden in her own words talking about reaching dizzy heights of meme fame and her pride at being a ‘very 2018 actress.’ Strap yourself in - you are about to meet your latest obsession…
"The End of The F**king World deals with dark problems, but doesn’t make you apologize for them…"
“It deals with a lot of dark issues like suicide and depression but due to the show being in these twenty minute episodes it’s treatment of the issues is refreshing. If the show was created by different people it could be seen as ‘preachy’ and people would start to think they have done something wrong. That is something you should never do when you are trying to approach and address issues like this.”
"Like Alyssa, I am a walking nightmare…"
“When I first read the script I just thought that I was quite a bit like the character - I can also be a walking nightmare! I love how in the first scene you meet her she shows the worst version of herself and then you decide whether you can be bothered with her. That is totally something I would do. I am one of those people who just goes to shock. I love people like that, my friends are like that, my mum is like that, even my Nan is like that – she’s the most outspoken person I have ever met. I thought it was really cool that I got to say stuff I talk about every day but don’t hear or see in TV shows.”
"I am so bored of simple female teen characters…"
“I loved the show it because it moved away from a stereotypical guy at school who is really cool and plays football but is secretly awkward and the female brings that out of him. Female characters in teen dramas have been quite simple in the past, they definitely don’t do things like act out in a sexual way on a spare of the moment decision. They also don’t swear, they aren’t the aggressive person leading the relationship. All of that is thrown out with The End of The F**king World.”
"It was my dream to become a meme…"
“It’s brilliant, people are making memes about me on the Internet! They started off being from the show or me rolling my eyes and then these fans have started going through my Instagram and they have figured out I have a very memeable face - I guess! So a picture of me and my grandma has even become a meme. I love memes, so this is my dream!”
"I don’t feel any different from the kids who tag me in posts…"
“I haven’t changed at all in light of the show’s success. I really love the Internet - I think it’s really funny and some of the humour is really intelligent. Myself and my best friend used to just drive somewhere and just scroll through different meme pages. The Internet has become a bit like the Rocky Horror culture, as in a similar way, it gives a space to ‘misfits’ by allowing them to be their selves and enjoy their own personal jokes. It’s a place for people to find a community through shared humour. I don’t feel any pressure to be a role model because I don’t feel any different to the kids who tag me in stuff because it’s exactly what I would have done.”
"I am a self -proclaimed misfit…"
“I am 100 percent a misfit. I am always being told I am too eccentric. I am lucky. I am luckier than the characters in The End of The F**king World for instance because I had really great parents who didn’t mind what I was like. I never felt stifled or that I couldn't be myself. I have had a really good experience about being different but sadly not everyone gets that. I used to worship Liza Minelli so I understand people who are fan girls, because I am one! It’s really special to me to see these responses to the show because it’s just so amazing because I am kind of a loser!”
"As girls we shouldn’t be scared to publicly talk about sex or our vaginas…"
“As girls will talk about our periods, vaginas or sex and guys, even as they get into their twenties, will freak out! They won’t know what is going on if they over hear. I don’t know if we do it to deliberately to freak them out but we need to talk about it, it’s healthy. I have an actress friend and out of no where she was talking about different sexual words and what they mean and the male crew didn't know how to react. Women are not terrified of men any more and we should show that on TV.”
"Child acne is the secret to looking do young…"
“I think the reason I look so young is because I had acne when I was younger. My dad always said the one good thing about having it was, ‘you then have a face that’s hard to wrinkle!’ Also I am still one of those people who runs everywhere so if it’s lunch time I will still run to the food like a child – so that could be another reason as I just act so young. I don’t frown about anything either.”
'The End of The F**king World' is streaming on Netflix now