The Athens director behind “The Circle”

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We last spoke with director James Ponsoldt when he was promoting “The Spectacular Now.” The 2013 indie—filmed in his native Athens—was the first on-screen pairing of Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller, who went on to star in three Atlanta-filmed “Divergent” series movies.

Ponsoldt’s latest project, “The Circle,” features a galaxy of stars: Emma Watson as a new member of all-powerful tech firm The Circle. Tom Hanks is the company’s chief, John Boyega and Karen Gillan play her colleagues, and the late Bill Paxton appears as her father.

“They are some of my favorite actors,” Ponsoldt said during an interview last week. “It’s not coincidental they’ve had the success they have. For me they were real collaborators. The job wasn’t just to show up on time and say lines. It was to contribute creatively.”

The movie is based on Dave Eggers’ book about Internet privacy and the lack thereof.

“I loved the book. I found it darkly hilarious,” Ponsoldt said. “It horrified me. People are understandably wary of living in a surveillance state. We’ve always believed our identities will be stolen by men in black and helicopters. The irony is in modern life no one needed to steal our information. We gave it away.”

The movie’s in wide release now. Here’s the trailer: