A Cinderella Story: Once Upon a Song, available on DVD and digital download, is a modern twist on the timeless classic. Terrified of being put in foster care, Katie (Lucy Hale) does whatever her stepmother (Missi Pyle) and step-siblings demand. But, when the Massive Records company president (Dikran Tulaine) decides to scout for new talent at the showcase at a prestigious private school, where his son Luke (Freddie Stroma) is the newest student, Katie hopes she can land a recording contract and get the guy. Forced to lay down tracks and perform for her untalented stepsister (Megan Park) Bev, in order to help her pursue her own quest for stardom, Katie has to find the courage to tell her true love that it’s been her all along.
At the film’s press day, actor Freddie Stroma (best known for his role as Cormac McLaggen in the Harry Potter films) spoke to Collider for this exclusive interview about how this Cinderella story is different from the classic fairy tale, all of the fun extras and behind-the-scenes interviews that will be included on the DVD, why he ended up beat-boxing in the movie, and how much fun they all had bonding as a cast. He also talked about his latest film, The Philosophers, which co-stars fellow Harry Potter actor Bonnie Wright. Check out what he had to say after the jump:
FREDDIE STROMA: This was just a standard audition, and I got the part. Through agents and managers, it came my way and I thought it was pretty cool. There was the whole music side of it as well.
How is this version both similar to and different from the typical Cinderella story that people know so well?
STROMA: You’ve got the things that we kept similar, like the Ball where you meet the Cinderella in disguise. He tracks her, not with a shoe this time, but with her voice. It’s also a bit Cyrano De Bergerac. I spend most of the film going after Megan Park’s character, thinking that that’s my Cinderella, and then finding the real Cinderella, which is not that much like Cinderella, but it will do.
What kind of guy is your Prince Charming? Did you actually think of him as Prince Charming while you were playing the character, or did you just think of him as a guy named Luke?
STROMA: I didn’t really think of him as Prince Charming. I just did a pantomime, which is a kids’ theater thing, that was the first one in L.A., and I played Prince Charming, so the fact that I was playing Prince Charming again, in A Cinderella Story, was bizarre. I guess you put it in your subconscious somewhere that he’s Prince Charming, and he’s meant to be that way, but I just played him as the rock ‘n’ roll guy, since he’s a modern Prince Charming. If I had started thinking about it, then I would have been worried that I wasn’t charming enough. I hate trying to play charming. Thinking about being charming is really tough. I just played out the scenes. I guess it helps, being English. In a lot of movies, Prince Charming tends to have an English accent, so that helped. That was most of my Prince Charming.
Had you been familiar with the two other Cinderella Story films and how popular they were?
STROMA: I had seen how popular they were. I had watched the second one, with Selena Gomez and Jane Lynch, ‘cause Damon [Santostefano] directed that one as well, and I saw the similarities, but theirs was more dance and ours is more music and singing. I was aware of how popular they were, but there was definitely a different angle with ours. The basic formula is pretty similar, but we loved the idea of using technological as the shoe, with the iPhone. We took our own twist on it. I liked that this was music, singing and performing over dancing because I would have been sickened with the dancing.
What do you think people will enjoy, as far as the DVD extras go?
STROMA: They gave us these FlipCams, from day one, and told us to muck about with them. I’m sure there’s going to be some terrible footage on that, of us in our trailers and behind the scenes, just having fun with the FlipCams and giving mock interviews. There is also a fun interview with me and Lucy [Hale], down at this dock where we were filming. I’m sure there are a lot of other interviews as well, from the EPK stuff we did, that will be edited so that we’re all hilarious. It’s always fun to see what happens behind the scenes, so I’m sure the audience will love that. We got on really well, so I’m sure that you can see that. Hopefully, there’s not too much mucking about on there. It will be fun.
STROMA: No, I had not done any beat-boxing before. I blame Titus [Makin Jr.] for that, 100%. We were doing rehearsal, just before our first day of shooting that beat-boxing scene, and Titus just said to Damon, “So, did you like the beat-boxing I did in my audition?” And then, Damon looked at me and said, “Freddie, can you beat-box?” And I said, “Do I look like I can beat-box?” So, we ended up putting that in the script. It was never in the script, and it’s all Titus’ input. I haven’t seen the final version, so I don’t know how much it’s been tweaked, but I’m beat-boxing now and I’m going to have all my friends taking the mickey out of me for that. Titus looks cool, with his cool hat and his swagger, and I’ve got my blazer on and my satchel and I’m beat-boxing. It will be interesting to see how that goes. I guess I attempted to beat-box at boarding school in England, which I don’t think really counts for the cred.
As a cast, did you guys get to spend much time hanging out while you were shooting this?
STROMA: Yeah, we did. We shot this all in Wilmington, North Carolina, so we were all away from home, in this new place. Titus and I arrived a day before a lot of the rest of the cast, so we spent the weekend there together. We kind of went on a man-date. I guess that’s what it turned out to be. I cooked him spaghetti bolognese, and then we went for a walk on the beach. That sounds pretty romantic, but I assure you, it wasn’t. It was the weekend of the Superbowl, and neither nor I had any particular interest in going to a Superbowl party, so we just watched it on TV and chilled. We flew over together as well, and sat next to each other. I think that was a really good thing because we got to know each other really well, over those few days. We shot the day that we meet as our first scene, on our first day of shooting, which was good because we’d already built up a good chemistry. It was the same with everyone. We all went out and hung out a lot, and had fun.
STROMA: I just got back from doing that in Indonesia. It’s really cool and really fun. Bonnie Wright was in it as well, who I worked with before, in the Harry Potter films. I had a great time. It’s really difficult to describe the film, but it’s basically the last philosophy class of the year and the teacher says, “We’re all going to do a thought experiment where the end of the world is coming and there’s a bunker with a room for 10.” There are 20 in the class, so we all have to debate who deserves to go in, to keep humanity going and keep the population alive. Then, it takes you on this crazy journey. It’s really fun.
What do you look for, when you’re trying to determine what you want to do next?
STROMA: People ask me if there’s a particular route that I’d want to go with my career, but I don’t have one. What attracted me to acting, from the start, was playing different characters. I’m not a massive fan of just playing myself on screen. If you can play lots of different characters, that’s fun. As long as the material is good, that’s what the attraction is for me. It was fun playing a horrible, snotty kid in Harry Potter, and then playing Prince Charming where I was also singing and playing guitar, and then playing a completely different character.
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