Before ‘Euphoria’, There Was ‘Thirteen’, And Its Director Says TikTok Gets It

Before ‘Euphoria’, There Was ‘Thirteen’, And Its Director Says TikTok Gets It

Years before “Euphoria,” director Catherine Hardwicke had the teenage milieu locked down with her film, Thirteen.

The drama centered on honors student Evan Rachel Wood, who meets a new friend (Nikki Reed) who turn her on to a world of sex, drugs, and petty crime. That tests Wood’s relationship with her mother, Holly Hunter.

The film debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in early 2003 and celebrates its 20th anniversary on Sunday.

“I like elevating things,” Hardwicke (Twilight, Mafia Mamma) said in a Yahoo! Entertainment interview. “I wanted you to feel how the hormones are raging and what it feels like to be a kid when everything matters.”

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Hardwicke was a prolific production designer when she teamed with Reed — then 14, and the daughter of an ex-boyfriend — to write the script for Thirteen in only six days. “We really tried to [show] what it felt like to be a teenager, and just going through all the crazy pressures from the outside world,” Hardwicke says.

Hollywood in the early 2000s was nervous when Hardwicke and Reed shopped their script.

“I mean, every studio and every financier said, ‘No, we can’t make it. How could we make a movie that’s gonna be R-rated with an unknown 13-year-old girl in the lead?’ Everybody said no,” Hardwicke says.

The film was eventually produced with a budget of about $2 million, which Hardwicke raised through independent equity financing. It was shot in Los Angeles over 24 days.

“We made it by hook or crook, you know? And for no money. I got paid three bucks the whole time. But when we finally made it, people were like, ‘Oh, it’s powerful. It’s moving. It’s relevant in a way to what people are going through.’”

Fox Searchlight acquired the film and it ultimately earned more than $10 million, thank to rave reviews. Oscar and BAFTA nominations followed for Hunter, SAG nominations for Wood and Hunter, and an Independent Spirit Award win for Reed.

“That’s my little baby,” Hardwicke says now of the film. “You know, I saw what Nikki Reed was going through at 13… Holly Hunter, Evan Rachel Wood, their performances are still so strong if you watch it now because they put their hearts into it. They felt it. They lived it on the day. So I love that film.”

Teens today still relate, the filmmaker says.

“Even now on TikTok, there’s like 1.6 billion interactions with Thirteen. People are seeing clips and they’re writing in the comments, ‘That happened to me last week with my mom.’ So because it was quite honest and had real emotions, it’s still relevant to a lot of people.”

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