Britt Robertson is going indie.
The 24-year-old star has already built up years of television credits, from her turn as a once-abandoned foster child on Life Unexpected to a teen girl stuck Under the Dome, along with several high-profile films (Tomorrowland, The Longest Ride). But in White Rabbit, a psychological drama about a teen boy Harlon (Nick Krause) struggling with mental illness and bullying at school whose hallucinations of a rabbit he once killed as a boy cause him to carry out violent acts, Robertson explores the darker depths of adolescence.
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The actress spent a week filming the indie after The CW witch drama The Secret Circle abruptly ended in 2012 and her brief time on White Rabbit – “a hard shoot,” she says – was life-altering. Robertson plays the rebellious Julie, who befriends Krause’s character and later finds herself in the crosshairs.
“The material was really captivating and the subject matter was really intriguing to me. I have [six] younger brothers and sisters, so the story about kids in school and how it can spiral out of control [resonated],” Robertson tells ETonline, which offers an exclusive first look at a dramatic scene between Julie and Harlon.
Though the film sat on the shelf for several years before Breaking Glass Pictures acquired it in September, she says it’s telling that the film's issues issues are still relevant today.
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“It’s unfortunate that this story does resonate and it is a timely story and it is something that resonates with people still and that these circumstances happen still to this day. But that’s why it is such an important story to tell,” she says. “Mental illness is something people deal with all the time and when you mix something like guns with that, it’s bound to be tragic.”
Robertson continues, “Kids can do so much damage, and if you set them down the wrong path or don’t support them in the right way, these are the things that can happen. It’s just important for people to be aware of that.”
Even though Robertson spent a brief time with the character, she connected with Julie’s eventual turnaround from a troubled teen to one working to get on the right path.
“Julie starts out going down a not-so-great path – she’s making poor decisions and then she hits her rock bottom – and recovers from it,” she says. “That rock-bottom really makes her want more for her life. The fact that kids can make decisions that alter their life in such a drastic way and to be cognizant that that wrong path can ruin that life and be able to make that change.”
“I loved that part of her, that she was brave enough to turn her life around and I wish more people had that opportunity,” Robertson adds.
White Rabbit goes into limited release and VOD on Friday.
Robertson next stars in the romantic drama The Longest Rideopposite Scott Eastwood, based on the Nicholas Sparks novel.ET looked at what made Sparks' books box-office gold.