For those over 30 years old, DUFF means “designated ugly fat friend” and it’s a term that’s about to go mainstream thanks to the new teen comedy starring Mae Whitman (Parenthood) and Robbie Amell (The Flash).
Even though the term may be millennial vernacular, Amell says the feeling is universal. “I feel like everybody has felt like the DUFF at some time,” he tells ETonline. “You have to be pretty messed up to think other people were the DUFF.”
And Amell, who is quite handsome now -- his stunning blue eyes and chiseled abs don’t hurt -- reveals there was a time when he didn’t feel that way. “I had bad skin in high school and that was something that always messed with me and screwed with my confidence,” he says.
“I feel like it’s something personal that you have to get over,” Amell says of feeling like the DUFF. Luckily for him (and fans), his skin cleared up and he has since landed several key roles on TV, including Nickelodeon’s True Jackson, VP, The Tomorrow People, and Firestorm in the hit CW series, The Flash.
While, at 26 years old, both Amell and Whitman may seem “too old” for a teen comedy, it’s the distance they have from high school that helped give them perspective and want to do the film. “Mae put it really well. She said as she gets older, it puts certain things from high school into perspective,” he says. “When you’re in high school, you think you know everything. I was the same way.”
And that’s the core element that makes The DUFF work: it’s very genuine. It’s not trying to talk down to teens. “Ultimately, it has a great message,” Amell says. “It has the potential to transcend generations and decade. I thought it had a very John Hughes feel to it.”
While Hughes may be a pop culture reference -- the DUFF is a stereotype ripe for The Breakfast Club -- that many post-millennials may not appreciate, it’s one that adults can relate to.
The DUFF opens in theaters on Friday, Feb. 20.