Jerry O'Connell, Eli Brown Talk Netflix's The F**k-It List and Their Feelings About Social Media

Jerry O'Connell and Eli Brown, stars of the Netflix film The F**k It List, open up about their movie, how they really feel about social media, and what their summers in quarantine look like

Jerry O'Connell FK it List
Photo: Netflix

The pressures of high school life and what social media can to do a person when one of their videos goes viral, are the main themes of the new Netflix film The F**k It List, which stars Jerry O'Connell, Eli Brown (Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists) and Marcus Scribner (Black-ish).

In the high school romp, Brown's character is an over-achieving student who gets into almost all the Ivy Leagues, then accidentally blows up the school—and thus his life's trajectory—during a prank gone wrong. When an Instagram rant that he meant just for his friends ends up going viral, and he suddenly becomes an unlikely teenage antihero.

O'Connell, 46, plays 26-year-old Brown's dad, and the two, quarantining at their homes in L.A., caught up with PEOPLE to talk about what it's like being a teen star now versus when Jerry was up and coming, what they like (and hate!) about social media, and how they're staying sane during the current pandemic.

You two play father and son in this film. How did you get along in real life?

O'Connell: God, Eli is such a movie star, man. Eli had this 1980s Mercedes SL convertible that he would roll into set with every day. And I would look at that guy, while I was in my minivan, and be like, "That guy is cool." But he's not just cool, he's an amazing actor and scene partner. He really just emotionally raises the stakes. And it's just so fun to act with him.

Brown:I was just telling my parents the exact same thing. I was recounting some of our scenes. I was just saying, first you're just so funny that honestly like 30 to 40% of the time we were shooting, I could hardly keep it together.

The film is about the pressure parents can put on their kids to be high achievers, and get into good universities. Jerry, what are you like as a parent?

O'Connell: Oh the film actually changed how I'm going to parent my children moving forward. I don't yell at them for lower grades anymore. I'm kidding. I never yelled at my kids for lower grades. They've always gotten lower grades. So we just have accepted it at an early age.

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Social Media and a viral video plays a big role in the film. What's your relationship like with social media? Love it, hate it?

Brown: It has its pros and its cons. There is a lot going on in the world right now, and you get a lot of that information from social media. It's been really, really cool and inspiring to see so many people from my generation speaking up about the injustices in the world and crises and forcing us to talk about it. But it's a strong love, hate relationship, because personally I don't like spending time on my phone, and I don't like being with other people when they're spending time on their phone. I'd much rather sit down and talk and be human. I actually hated it so much at one point I got rid of my phone and got a flip phone.

O'Connell: I told you Eli was cool, he even has a flip phone. My social media experiences have drastically shifted in the last few months, and it's because my two daughters age 11, not much younger than Eli, have joined TikTok. And they are continually posting on TikTok. And I have to be the FCC and review them, because because TikTok is a lot of kids doing, I'm sorry to say this, provocative dances to songs. I'm like, "Girls, you can't post this video. You can't post it. I don't want to see you gyrating to the latest Shawn Mendes, Camila Cabello song!"

How do you think being a child star or younger actor differs these days from when you were coming up in the 80s and early 90s?

O'Connell: Back in my day, you just went on auditions, you drove around town, you had a map in the back of your car. Now I guess you're required to post about that day. No one knew or saw me when I was sitting in a parking lot eating a sandwich, getting ready to go up to an audition. But today it's almost like you're required to post about that downtime. And I don't care what anyone says, you have to be on. When you have a phone in front of your face and the camera's on reverse and you're filming yourself, you're on. It's not a private moment. But listen, I did go to a nightclub where Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake had a dance battle with each other. So it wasn't all that easy. I saw some stuff!

Brown: A younger actor today, there's a lot of pressure to post, post, post, post, post, post, post. Build your social media following and be very strategic about it. I think it's very different. It hasn't happened to me personally, but I know people who have lost a job because the next person had more followers than them.

I know you're not having a typical summer, but how do you enjoy your downtime these days?

Brown: Playing guitar. That's my unwind thing.

O'Connell: When they're open and I can find legal parking, I like taking my kids to the beach and watching them not play with devices for three hours. And making sure they have sunblock on so I don't get yelled at by my wife.

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