Charlotte Louise Spencer and Alex Sorian Brown star in “Evan Wood,” a film that examines the intricacies of life, love, family dynamics, substance abuse, and mental health. Along with “Riverdale” actor Trevor Stines, the trio commands the screen with powerful performances that walk the line between grief and hope.
Spencer, who plays Rachel Wood in the film, fell in love with performing at the age of three. She produced and co-wrote the movie with Alejandro Lopez. Lopez helped the Leeds-born beauty turn her short story into a full-length feature. “I really wanted to share a story with the world about family trauma, focusing specifically on the families of victims who suffer from substance abuse. I believed there were not enough stories being told from the family’s perspective,” Spencer tells INLOVE. “Unfortunately, substance abuse does not stop with the addicts but has a domino effect on everyone in that person’s life.”
The choice to cast Alex Sorian Brown in the title role of Evan Wood (Rachel’s brother) was an easy one for Spencer. As siblings, the pair’s onscreen chemistry is undeniable. “I initially met Alex at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts and built a friendship with him,” Spencer recalls. “As I was writing ‘Evan Wood,’ I found myself writing Evan’s lines in Alex’s voice, and all I could picture in my mind was him. I think this is because we have such a close friendship, we are almost like siblings in real life. I asked him to read for the role, and my vision came to life.
Stines initially read for the role of Rachel’s boyfriend, Mike, but instead landed the part of Josh, adding dimensions to a character so intriguing that it makes you question everything about first love. Spencer and Brown didn’t know Stines until they filmed “Evan Wood,” but say his easy-going nature and dry sense of humor blended seamlessly with theirs, and it was like they had known each other forever.
Added to the mix is veteran actor Jere Burns, who, after reading the script, happily took on the role of Rachel’s college professor/mentor, Timothy Phillips. Finally, rounding out their core team is director Niki Byrne. As a first-time feature writer, Spencer’s choice to run with a female-helmed film makes a powerful statement beyond what you see on screen.
“The industry is continually evolving and moving in the right direction when it comes to female-led projects, but not fast enough,” says Spencer. “Only 23 percent of Oscars this year were awarded to women, the worst number since 2018,” she points out. “I was lucky enough to work with an incredible team of women on ‘Evan Wood.’ Every department was led by a woman, and I was so incredibly proud of that. I was able to give many women an opportunity to be the head of a department on their first feature film, and I know this will just be the beginning of an incredible career for each and every one of them.”
Brown recalls the moment on set when he knew what they were making was magical. “The first day we arrived at Lake Arrowhead, we rushed straight to makeup and then shot the scene where Rachel and Evan are having their first heart-to-heart while going for a walk in the forest,” Brown tells INLOVE. “That was a single tracking shot for a 5-minute scene, and we had to do it in three takes because it was getting dark. When we did our third take, Niki looked at us, and she said, ‘So… we got it.’ She was sure but shocked. Somehow we were able to do it, and the entire scene made it into the movie with no cuts.”
For Spencer, it was about proving to herself that she could do something she never thought she would do. In the process, she found a love for writing and producing that she never knew she had.
While “Evan Wood” is the culmination of their hard work, both Spencer and Brown fell in love with creating long before this project ever took shape.
“As a kid, I remember watching Disney movies and performing scenes for my parents and other family members,” Brown reflects. “I’d even ask my cousin to dress me up so I could perform. My passion for performing grew stronger as I grew older, and I started taking dance lessons and acting in school plays. I grew up in Spain, and every summer, we’d put up a series of performances in the town I lived in. I remember spending hours preparing for those and rehearsing while the rest of the kids were out enjoying their summer break. I just couldn’t get enough of it. Looking back, I think my parents had no doubt I’d end up becoming an actor.”
Spencer also recounts performing at a young age. “I performed in my first professional show on stage at 10, and I had never felt adrenaline like it,” the actress tells INLOVE. “I couldn’t wait to get up on stage again. A year later, I booked my first national commercial in the United Kingdom. I remember feeling like I was in a dream. I was fascinated by every aspect of set life, and at that moment, I knew I wanted to feel that feeling forever.”
Forever seems like a reasonable goal for both. Spencer has a few exciting projects coming up that she’ll be acting in and plans to continue exploring her love for producing. This summer, Brown will be working with Spanish director Juanra Fernández on his fourth feature film “La Escalera,” which shoots in Spain later in the season.
Getting to know you: with Charlotte Louise Spencer and Alex Sorian Brown
INLOVE: You two were good friends before “Evan Wood.” Was there something you learned about each other while filming this movie that you didn’t know before?
Alex: We were good friends before filming, but we learned a lot about each other while filming this. Like the fact that Charlotte can’t make pancakes…
Charlotte: Or that Alex can eat 17 of them in one sitting.
INLOVE: Can you tell me more about what it meant to do this film together?
Charlotte: As Alex said, we knew each other before, but filming really brought us together, and now we are best friends in real life. The rehearsals and long filming hours showed that our personalities were very compatible. Even when we were extremely tired and overwhelmed, we found comfort in each other.
Alex: Now we literally spend so much time together. It’s like we’re joined at the hip.
INLOVE: Can you name a movie that changed your life?
Charlotte: Batman – “The Dark Knight.” In particular, Heath Ledger as the Joker.
Alex: “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.”
INLOVE: What’s your favorite song at the moment?
Charlotte: “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” by George Michael and Elton John.
Alex: “LA COMBI VERSACE” by Rosalía and Tokischa.
INLOVE: Favorite inspirational quote?
Charlotte: “Everything you can imagine is real.” – Pablo Picasso
Alex: ”If it is right, it happens—The main thing is not to hurry. Nothing good gets away.” – John Steinbeck
INLOVE: Favorite summer trend?
Charlotte: Open-toed shoes because I love the feeling of my toes in the fresh air [laughs].
Alex: Is iced coffee a summer trend?
INLOVE: What’s your dream role?
Charlotte: Amy Dunne in “Gone Girl.”
Alex: Elio in “Call Me by Your Name.”
INLOVE: Which musical artist would you give anything to see?
Alex: Miley Cyrus.
INLOVE: Dream dinner guest?
Charlotte: Margot Robbie.
Alex: Lady Gaga.
INLOVE: Favorite designer?
INLOVE: Favorite era for fashion?
Charlotte: The ’90s.
Alex: Agreeing with Charlotte on this one. The ’90s all the way.
INLOVE: Favorite thing about photoshoots?
Charlotte: I always feel a little more confident about myself when I leave a photo shoot.
Alex: When you get to vibe with the creatives you’re working with, and every piece of it comes together beautifully. Shoutout to our photographer Krissy and the rest of the creative team at INLOVE!
INLOVE: What’s your favorite thing about being on set?
Charlotte: Being surrounded by people who share the same passion as you.
Alex: That I get to play for a living.
INLOVE: What’s one trend you’d love to revive?
Charlotte: Flared jeans and scrunchies.
INLOVE: Which generation do you think has the best take on things?
Alex: Late Millennials/early Gen Z aka mid-to-late ’90s babies.
INLOVE: What do you think Gen Z can teach the world?
Charlotte: To be more accepting and open-minded to every aspect of the world.
Alex: To push the boundaries of traditional standards that don’t work for today’s world.
INLOVE: Describe yourself in 3 words.
Charlotte: Ambitious, creative, warm-hearted.
Alex: Driven, artistic and sensitive.
Creative Director: Elena Vasilevsky
Photographer: Krissy Saleh
Makeup/Hair: Jaclyn Lopez
Stylist: Malyssa Lyles
Writer: Sari Cohen
Location: The Urban Jungle Studio
453 S. Spring St. #326 Los Angeles CA 90013
All fashion can be purchased at Saks Beverly Hills
Published in INLOVE Magazine Summer 2022