The Fretts on Film Interview: Victoria Justice
Victoria Justice will be served—twice! Nickelodeon’s “Victorious” alum stars in a pair of new teen comedies, the Halloween-themed “Fun Size” (opening tomorrow) and “The First Time” (now in theaters). You can read my profile of her in today’s New York Daily News. And if you want a second helping, here’s more!
So what made you want to do this as your first big staring role in a movie?
Well, I love the fact that it ties into the realm of those John Hughes movies. It definitely is a coming-of-age story, and I really related and identified with my character, Wren. She’s not perfect—she is a teenage girl who is dealing with a lot in her home life. She lives at home with her single mom who’s dating this younger guy, and she has this little brother who is constantly annoying her and driving her crazy, and she wants to get away from it all.
Did you want to move in a more mature direction?
It’s a little edgier than anything else I’ve done, but nothing too crazy, so I think it’s a step in the right direction, and I just feel like it’s a perfect fit. And when I found out that Josh Schwartz was attached, I was really excited because I love the work that he’s done—he’s created so many shows—”Gossip Girl “and “Chuck” and “The OC”—and he understands what young adults and teenagers think is cool and what they would relate to. And he also has great taste in music. Just a really smart, funny, nice guy. It was a pleasure working with him and I hope to work with him again.
You’re still under the Nickelodeon banner with this film, but it’s the first PG-13 film they’ve done. Why did you want to age yourself up?
I don’t want to play the same character and do Nickelodeon material forever. I’m going to be 20 in February. It’s meant to happen this way, and I don’t think that I’d feel I was staying true to myself if I was doing projects that were fluffy and young. Actually, Nickelodeon, when I first signed on to “Fun Size” was not involved with the movie at all—it was strictly a Paramount film. I just found out several months ago that Nickelodeon was going to get involved, and I was a bit shocked! I was like, ‘Okay!’ Hopefully it helps the film. We’ll see what happens. But I had to really fight for the role—I had to audition several times, I had to screen test against other actresses not on Nickelodeon. And it’s not a little-kid film—it has some edge.
This is Josh’s first movie, and your first big movie. Did that help to have that connection with him?
Yeah, we definitely were jumping in with both feet, and I think we did connect over the fact that it’s his feature-film directorial debut, and it’s my first role being the leading lady. So we were definitely in it together—in it to win it!
Are you aware of what your audience expects from you? Do you have to take baby-steps to bring them along to more sophisticated material?
I think so. I didn’t want to shock anyone with my first project. If I would have done an R-rated film as my first movie, it would have come out of left field, and the audience that has been watching me on Nickelodeon wouldn’t have identified and been able to see that. And I don’t want to shut them out. That’s not what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to have them grow with me. At the end of the day, I’m choosing projects that I love and I’m just staying true to myself and doing what makes me happy as an actress, and that’s all you really can do.
Josh told me there were kids in the neighborhoods where you were shooting staying up all night to meet you. Did that surprise you?
That audience is amazing—the tweens and the young kids. They’re so dedicated and they love to scream. They freak out over celebrities and they bring you gifts. They are just in awe of you because it’s just so foreign to them, and I don’t think they really understand yet that we’re just normal people—it’s just our job. But it’s just so exciting for them, and it’s very sweet and endearing, and I think I am a little used to it by now from having the show and everything. But it never gets old for me.
In this movie, you have to play down your musical talent a bit. Did you think about using the movie as a vehicle to promote your musical career?
No, it’s not really the project to do that with. I kinda wanted to make a distinction from myself as an actress and me as a musician and an artist and a songwriter. And my character, Wren, it would be so out of place if she started singing. It’s just not at all a part of the story. I wanted to keep a separation.
When you moved from Hollywood, Florida, to Hollywood, California at age 10 to pursue acting, what was the biggest difference?
The humidity, I think! I love my hometown of Hollywood, Florida. It’s always going to be a special place to me, but I don’t know how people do the humidity day in and day out. It’s so intense! It can be kind of exhausting. And the weather in LA is beautiful. Not that it’s not beautiful in Florida, but it’s just a little harder there.
You have grown up in the business, and you’ve seen a lot of people in your generation go down the wrong path. How have you managed to avoid the pitfalls?
I’m focused on my work and bettering myself as an actress and as a performer. I’m constantly looking for ways to keep myself busy and to engage with my fans, whether it’s on Twitter or that sort of thing. So I’m always really busy with my career, and I think also just staying close to my family for all of these years. I could have moved out two years ago, but I feel like I still have so much to learn. And I’m not trying to distance myself just because I’m an adult. I want to learn from my family and grow with them so I think they’ve kept me very grounded over the years. And my mom has been a huge influence on me—we travel everywhere together and we spend so much time together. She has helped me with my career choices. So I think she’s a great role model for me in a lot of ways.
I wasn’t expecting it to not get picked up—I thought we were for sure going to go another season. But I actually think it’s good timing. I’m going to be 20 in February. Nickelodeon made my career in a lot of ways and introduced me to a really large audience and a really great fan base, but I’m ready to mature and grow up a little bit.
Do you see yourself doing serious roles in the future?
I want to do all kinds of different roles. I don’t want to be put in a box or pigeon-holed as an actress. Just because I’ve done comedy and Nickelodeon for so many years doesn’t mean that’s all I can do. I would love to do an action movie or a romantic comedy. I feel like the sky’s the limit. I want to try out everything.
With your name, do you think you would be a logical candidate to play Wonder Woman?
(Laughing). Who knows! Maybe one day.
Josh said somebody was joking that he could make a movie with you and Taylor Swift, called “Swift Justice.”
(Laughing) “Swift Justice”—that’s hilarious!
That would be great. So are you going to vote for the first time this year?
I haven’t registered to vote yet because I haven’t had any time. I’ve been working every single day. I don’t have my license yet—I haven’t been able to do that either so my life has been my work. Unfortunately I haven’t even had any time to watch the debates because I’ve been traveling all over the place promoting this movie. There’s nothing I can do about it!
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