The My Old Ass team was pleasantly surprised that Justin Bieber gave the OK to use his song “One Less Lonely Girl” in the Aubrey Plaza-led comedy.
“We weren’t sure Justin was going to let us,” director Megan Park said in a post-screening Q&A on Saturday, January 20, after the film premiered at Sundance Film Festival. “Once he gave us the go-ahead, we were thrilled. We leaned into it even more.”
The film follows the story of a Canadian teenager named Elliot, played by Maisy Stella, who is gearing up to head to college. While hanging out with her friends, the group of small-town teens partake in mushrooms.
During Elliot’s trip, she meets an older version of herself played by Plaza, 39, who warns her not to fall in love with her crush Chad (Percy Hynes White). At a later point in the movie, while Elliot is still high on the shrooms, she also imagines performing Bieber’s “One Less Lonely Girl” to Chad.
“One Less Lonely Girl” has a special place in the hearts of Bieber’s fans. The song, which was released off his debut album One World in 2009, is a staple in the musician’s setlist. When Bieber, 29, performs the song at his concerts he typically picks one girl to serenade on stage.
“Guys, Justin Bieber watched that,” Stella, 20, quipped at the Q&A on Saturday. “Justin Bieber watched that, which makes me so ill.”
During the panel, Park, 37, explained that her Canadian roots heavily influenced the soundtrack for My Old Ass and that was the main reason why she wanted Bieber’s song to be a highlight in the film. In addition to having silly scenes in the movie, Park wanted her project to have moments that brought viewers back to special moments in their childhood.
“I kept thinking about this idea: there was a time when you did something like play pretend with your friends, and then you just never did it again,” she explained. “That made me really emotional. I also wanted to immerse myself in a joyful film and something that made people feel nostalgic for an easier, simpler time in life. Because life can be hard and s—y sometimes. I wanted to have an escape.”
Plaza, for her part, gushed about getting to work with Park and how she appreciated the director’s unique choice of transportation during filming.
“Megan is the only director I’ve ever worked with who Jet Skis to work,” Plaza said before recalling how Park picked her up via a paddle boat for their initial meeting. “She paddled over me. And I sat there for a while just staring at her, inching along. I was like, ‘What the? What have I got myself into?’ And [then] I felt like, ‘This is right.’”