Miranda Cosgrove is one of Hollywood’s hottest young stars. With the title role on Nickelodeon’s highest-rated live-action show, iCarly, a recently released debut solo album called “Sparks Fly,” a campaign for Neutrogena, and various film and theater credits, the 17-year-old already has a career to be envied.
In the 3-D CGI feature Despicable Me, Miranda Cosgrove voices Margo, a young girl who is naturally protective of her two sisters. Raised without a family, she distrusts most people and knows the only ones the girls can count on are one another. Both tough and strong, Margo is not afraid to challenge the mysterious Gru (voiced by Steve Carell), when he decides to adopt the girls.
During a press conference for the film, the teenaged star talked about finding the personality of an animated character, seeing a little bit of herself in the final drawing and how even she has had a despicable moment. She also gave some hints about Season 3 of iCarly and mentioned a possible December concert tour. Check out what she had to say after the jump:
Question: Did you get a chance to do a read-through with the cast, or were you just alone in the sound booth?
Miranda: You know, it’s funny because I thought that doing an animated movie was going to be easier, for some reason, than a TV show. But, I think it’s a lot harder because I didn’t have anybody with me in the room. It was just me in this little sound booth. I got to see pictures of the characters, which helped a lot. I got to see a picture of Gru and the minions and my character, Margo. That helped me to imagine the whole world while I was in the little booth.
How much are you like your character, Margo, and what’s really different about you?
Miranda: I think a big part of the character is that she is really protective of her two little sisters and, in real life, I don’t have any siblings. My best friend has a little sister, so I tried to use her a little bit because she’s always trying to make the right decisions and she’s always helping her sister. I am like Margo because she’s pretty strong in the movie and she’s not afraid to stand up to Gru. I’m a little like that. Especially when I was younger, like 10 or 11, I’d always try to get my way, and she does that a lot in the movie.
How do you bring a sense of personality and an edge to a character like this?
Miranda: I thought the hardest part was just really figuring out what the character was going to be like. The directors helped a lot. It was interesting because they did the animation in Paris, so every single time I would go into the sound booth, I’d be talking to them on iChat. There’d be a five-second delay, so I’d say the lines and then I’d have to wait five seconds to see if they laughed and to see if they liked it. They helped me a lot with it because they’re really great animators. They just said, “Put everything into it. Just really go crazy and have fun.” It was nice because they let me improv a lot. They’d say, “Do the line three times the way it’s written, and then just go crazy and do one for yourself.”
How did you incorporate the description of your character into the voice?
Miranda: I just tried to be really authoritative because Margo has a lot of responsibility on her shoulders, even though she’s really young. She’s like the mom of these two little girls.
Miranda: Yeah, I did. I thought it was so exciting to see that because, when I first saw the picture of the character, I loved the way she looks, and I loved her outfit and her glasses and everything, but she doesn’t really look anything like me. Then, I found out that they film you the entire time you do animation, and they use your hand gestures and facial expressions. When I went to see the movie for the first time, I was like, “Wow, she does look like me.” She makes a lot of the same expressions I make and does silly things like me.
Did anything you improvised make it into the movie?
Miranda: Yeah, there’s a scene where I copied Gru’s voice that was one of my favorite scenes. It was so fun trying to copy that voice because it’s so crazy. I just did it one take for fun and they were like, “Oh, we like that. Let’s try it again.” The directors in Paris were doing the voice and trying to help me do it. Everyone in the sound booth in L.A. was trying to help me too, so I got to hear everyone’s take on his voice.
Were you surprised that Julie Andrews played the mean grandmother?
Miranda: She’s so sweet. It’s hard to see her as a mean character, but she’s really good in the movie. She really is convincing. I was really nervous, the first I went in to record for the movie. I met her because she was on her way out. It’s just so strange to be walking down a hall and pass Julie Andrews. She’s like the queen, or something. Her voice is really elegant.
Did you say anything to her?
Miranda: Yeah, I did. I was a little embarrassed because I love The Princess Diaries, and I also love The Sound of Music and Victor/Victoria. She’s been in these incredible movies, but I told her that I loved her in The Princess Diaries 2, which that’s a great movie, but I should have said Mary Poppins, or something.
What were your favorite animated movies, growing up?
Miranda: I used to watch The Little Mermaid, all the time. I love Ratatouille, Up, Monsters Inc. and Ice Age.
What did you draw on from your personal life, in playing such a tough cookie?
Miranda: When I was younger, I was a little bit tough. Everybody has their parent that’s a little easier to get to take them places. My dad’s the one that’s easier, out of my parents, so when I was younger, I used to always try to get him to take me to the movies, pick up my friends and let me have parties at my house, and stuff. I used that a little bit, in the scenes when I was going head-to-head with Gru.
What do you think of Margo’s style?
Miranda: The first time I saw the character, the number one thing I thought was so cute about her was that she wore those high tops with that little plaid skirt. I just loved that. I think it’s adorable.
How close did you get to your castmates?
Miranda: I met Jason and Steve for the first time, two weeks after we finished the movie, which is funny because we were finished with the whole thing and I’d never met them. I met them under really weird circumstances. I was supposed to be doing the conga and they had these 12 little people dressed up as the minions in the movie. They did a choreographed dance. We were told to do the conga with them and try to follow along with the dancing. It was just really funny. Steve and Jason were laughing so hard they could barely breathe, and I was just really weirded out, standing there. It was pretty funny.
Have you ever been despicable?
Miranda: Yes, on Mother’s Day I dropped my mom’s cell phone in a toilet. It was by accident. I was going to see a movie and my phone went dead, so I borrowed her phone. I went to the bathroom and I was walking towards the stall, holding the phone, and I tripped. It was like something out of a TV show or movie. It just flew out of my hand and plopped right in the toilet. I was freaking out because it was Mother’s Day. I knew she’d be upset anyways, but on Mother’s Day, that’s just the worst. I was with one of my best friends who always laughs whenever something bad happens. It’s this uncontrollable thing with her. She just starts laughing. Then, she tried to be nice and help me. She said we should go to her house and try to blow dry it, but she lived 10 miles from the movie theater. We were going to try to walk to her house, at one point. It was pretty crazy.
What’s coming up on “iCarly”?
Miranda: We just started the third season. We’re on our third episode so far, and my character, Carly, finally has a bedroom, which I thought was really cool because it’s purple and that is my favorite color. They just made it the dream bedroom. They put a trampoline that you jump on, into the bed. Then, the closet rotates and you pick your outfit on a pad next to it, and then it gives you your outfit. It’s just a really amazing room.
How much freedom do you have to improvise on the show?
Miranda: We do a lot of improv. We usually do 10 takes of every scene, and the last few takes, we’ll just go crazy and do what we want, especially with the web show scenes because they’re so outlandish and weird.
How is your music going? Do you also write your own songs?
Miranda: I co-wrote the single from my album, “Kissing You.” It’s about a guy that I really, really like, and I was embarrassed to tell him the song was about him. I played him the song, but I didn’t tell him. Eventually, I figured I needed to tell him it’s about him, so I did. He was flattered. I thought he was going to think I was weird. But, it’s been going really, really well. I got to travel all over and do a little radio tour, which was really fun. I visited a lot of places I’ve never been to before. Now, I think I’m going to go on my first tour in December. We finish up the season of “iCarly” in September, so we’re still figuring it all out, but it’s going to be my first time in a bus with a band, traveling around performing.
What can you tell us about an “iCarly” movie? Is that going to happen?
Miranda: They’ve talked about making an “iCarly” movie before, but nothing’s really been finalized. I think it’d be really fun to do it, just because we’ve done every episode in this little studio on Sunset, at Nickelodeon Studios, and we’ve never left. The farthest we’ve ever gotten away was the street behind the studio, so I’d love to get to go on vacation somewhere with the whole cast.
Is there a literary character or historical character you’ve always loved and would want to play?
Miranda: That’s hard. As far as movies, I love The Notebook. I always say I wish I could replay Rachel McAdams’ character. She’s amazing, but I think that’s the movie every girl wishes they could be in. As far as books, this is kind of random, but I used read Jenny B. Jones when I was little, and I always wanted to be her.
What grade are you in now?
Miranda: I’m in 11th grade. I’m finishing up 11th grade, so I’ll be going into 12th, my last year of high school.
Do you go to regular school?
Miranda: I don’t. I do home schooling. I went to regular school until fifth grade, and then I started doing home schooling, which it’s completely different. I have a teacher on set with me and I just work with her, one-on-one. I didn’t want to miss out on prom, so I crashed one of my friend’s proms last year. It was really fun.
Do you plan on going to senior prom? Are you still looking for a date?
Miranda: I am still looking for a date, if you know anybody. I don’t want to miss it, for sure. They have a home schooling prom, but I’m not sure how fun that would be because you don’t know anybody. It’s just random people, milling about. I’m probably going to try to go with my friend to her prom. Last time, I got lucky because something happened with her date, at the last minute, and he couldn’t go, so I got to go with her inside of a limo. It was really fun.
Do you want to go to college?
Miranda: I want to go to college, for sure. My dad went to USC, and he wants me to go there so bad. I also really like NYU. That’s my dream school. I want to go to college, and I want to keep acting and singing. I love entertaining people and making them laugh. It’s my favorite thing to do.
What would you like to study?
Miranda: I want to study film. I love Tina Fey. I’ve been watching all the episodes of “30 Rock” recently, and I just think it’s so amazing that she was able to create that show and write it. Mean Girls is another one of my favorite movies, and she wrote that. I’d love to get to be like Tina Fey.
Will you take acting, or do something behind the scenes?
Miranda: Maybe directing. I think that’d be really interesting. I just think it’d be cool to get to be behind the camera.
What are your favorite holiday traditions?
Miranda: My mom is a really good cook. I didn’t get the cooking gene, but she cooks this really amazing dinner every Christmas, and that’s always really fun. Then, my dad is really funny. He sometimes gets me gifts that he wished he would have had when he was younger. He got me a go-kart one year and he was like, “Let me just test it. I need to test it out.” That’s always fun. My whole family comes over. My next door neighbor’s my age, and she comes over to my house every year. It’s just fun.
What is your life like, being such a huge star now?
Miranda: When I go to the mall, people will come up and talk about “iCarly” or they’ll say, “I heard a song I like of yours,” or something like that. I still get just as excited as I did, three or four years ago, when I first started the show. It’s just really exciting. I love it. It’s funny when my friends are with me and cute guys come up to me. They get really excited. They introduce themselves.
Do you get first pick of the cute guys?
Miranda: No, not really. My friends immediately come over and introduce themselves. One of my best friends is really into fashion and she always looks great, so she’s usually the one.
Miranda: I’m always reading scripts, and my parents are always reading scripts, too. They help me make all my decisions. I’d love to get to be in a really great film. I guess that’s what everybody wants. I love comedies. I love all the Judd Apatow movies, like Forgetting Sarah Marshall, that Jason’s in. I’d love to get to be in a really funny movie like that because, when I go to the movies with my friends, I love being able to sit there and just crack up.
Who was your main influence to be an actress?
Miranda: I’ve always loved Meryl Streep. My favorite movie is To Kill a Mockingbird. My mom showed me that movie when I was maybe eight or nine. I watched it with her. Then, I just recently read the book for school. I’ve always loved that.
Are there any actors that you want to work with?
Miranda: I was super-excited to work with Steve Carell and Jason Segel. I think those guys are awesome. I really love Anne Hathaway. I think she’s great. Meryl Streep would be pretty amazing.