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Katherine Langford is thrilled to bring socially conscious ’13 Reasons Why’ to TV — the pizookies were a bonus

LA TIMES – What is it like to play a teenager preparing to kill herself? At just 20, Australian actress Katherine Langford flew across the Pacific to take on her first major acting job: starring as Hannah Baker in “13 Reasons Why.” The controversial Netflix drama, executive-produced by “Spotlight” director Tom McCarthy, inspired a disturbing Internet meme and provoked furious discussion of its many themes, among them bullying, sexual assault, depression, slut-shaming and teen suicide. Langford’s character has taken her own life, leaving behind 13 cassette tapes to explain why she did it.

Once “13 Reasons” wrapped, Langford quickly slipped into another American role in the forthcoming Greg Berlanti movie “Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda,” which revolves around a gay teen trying to come out on his own terms. Langford — who cites anti-bullying icon Lady Gaga as her biggest creative influence — seems genuinely thrilled to immerse herself in projects with a socially conscious edge. “It’s lovely because you feel like you are part of something that has made a difference,” she says, adding that she hopes “13 Reasons Why” fans “may be a little kinder” to those around them. “Even though it’s just a piece of entertainment, it’s generated conversation that might make people more aware that tiny things you do can affect somebody else in a big way.”

How did your high school experience compare to the one in “13 Reasons Why”?

My high school experience was a lot happier than Hannah Baker’s. I went to a gifted and talented school, so I was surrounded by really interesting people from all different walks of life and I had a really strong friend group. The school was very liberal in that I had freedom. During my study periods I wasn’t being watched by a teacher so I would go to the auditorium and write songs. That’s maybe one of the reasons why I was able to become an actor, because I was given the freedom to do that.

Your character undergoes some very graphic, hard-to-watch experiences. How did you prepare?

Particularly for Hannah’s later scenes, I spoke with a psychiatrist who deals with adolescent development and that helped inform me from a medical and factual point of view. What was really special about the project was the way it was written. These characters are so fleshed out and real that it made it easy for me to relate to Hannah and to understand what she was going through. I feel that we respect the intellect of the audience. Sixteen, 15-year-olds are a lot smarter than people give them credit for.

Kate Walsh and Brian d’Arcy James, who play my parents, also offered me a lot of support. It was like there was an invisible net I was never going to slip through. While we were shooting, it hit home for me: I am acting this, but there are people out there who are going through this [suffering] every day.
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Katherine Langford and Dylan Minnette for Entertainment Weekly

The stars of ’13 Reasons Why’ grace the cover of Entertainment Weekly (May 19) featuring an all new (adorable!) photoshoot. We’ve updated the gallery with high quality outtakes and scans will be added as soon as they become available. And of course, you can watch the behind the scenes video below. Enjoy!

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The stars and creator of ’13 Reasons Why’ talk about the show’s success and the backlash

LA TIMES – For a moment, the conversation is light. It’s a blustery spring day on the Paramount lot and Katherine Langford, who just turned 21, and Dylan Minnette, 20, are talking about some of the Internet’s more playful obsessions — the face-transforming software FaceApp and unicorn frappuccinos.

“It looks disgusting,” Langford says, her Australian accent undisguised, of the vibrant, multi-colored Starbucks concoction.

Minnette chimes in: “It looks like the wet dream of frappuccinos.”

Then the conversation gets a bit heavier. It’s been a few weeks since the March 31 release of “13 Reasons Why,” the Netflix drama about a teenage girl’s suicide in which the pair stars, and they are in the thick of it, juggling appearances on “Ellen” with this weekend’s MTV Movie & TV Awards.

And then there’s the other part of it. The part they knew would inevitably take shape given the show’s fraught subject matter: the backlash.

The 13-episode adaptation of Jay Asher’s bestselling novel quickly blew up laptops of American teenagers, and one by one, anxious-to-angry headlines followed. “Does ‘13 Reasons Why’ Glamorize Teen Suicide?” “Critics say 13 Reasons Why has artistic merit. Suicide prevention experts say it’s dangerous.” “‘13 Reasons Why’ Is Not the Force for Mental Health Awareness People Say It Is”

As hot takes and think pieces about the show’s merits and flaws began to pile up across the Web, superintendents, teachers and other school officials around the country began issuing warnings to parents: that its content may be inappropriate for young viewers — for its depiction of suicide and sexual assault, among them — and that it might be viewed as glamorizing suicide.

But then too came comments like the ones on Langford and Minnette’s Instagram pages: “I hope that a lot of people will reflect about the consequences that the harassment on the life of somebody can have” and “I watched the whole series with my dad” and “I’m a mother of a 17 year old and i finished watching it today, every parent should watch this show.”

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