In the new Disney comedy You Again, actress Odette Yustman is playing Joanna, the beautiful, popular girl in high school, who was also the arch nemesis to the shy, quiet Marni (Kristen Bell). When Marni returns home, now a successful publicist with a promising career ahead of her, she realizes that Joanna is marrying her brother Will (James Wolk). And, when Joanna acts, not only like nothing bad ever happened between them, but that she doesn’t even remember Marni, Marni sets out on a mission to prove that the sweet young woman that her family all seems to love is not who she appears to be.
During the film’s press day, Odette Yustman talked about her own mean girl in high school, working in romantic comedy for the first time and planning her own real life wedding. She also talked about her upcoming projects – Group Sex, Operation: Endgame, And Soon the Darkness and The Double – as well as doing a voice for Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2. Check out what she had to say after the jump:
Odette: I had a great time in high school. I really did. I went to a private Christian high school and I graduated in a class of 67 kids, so it was pretty small, and I knew and loved everybody. I was friends with all the little cliques in high school, and I had my own, but I was still really friendly with everybody. I did have a bully. She was horrible. I still think about her, to this day. I feel like you’ll always carry that feeling with you. If you ever were bullied, you’ll always remember that feeling. That’s why this movie is so great and people are going to relate to it so much. A lot of people have had a bad experience, at some point or another in their life, with a bully or a frenemy. So, I did have a good time in high school, except for that mean girl I had to deal with.
Have you looked her up?
Odette: I’ve done a little investigating. Of course I have. I haven’t seen her, and I’ve obviously moved on, but it would be nice to get an apology.
Was she a source of inspiration for your character?
Odette: Yes, absolutely! She was a source of inspiration. One of the reasons I really loved the script was because right away I was like, “Oh, my god, I get to play this girl. I get to draw inspiration from this and actually be redeeming. That gives me a little bit of hope.” And, that was really fun for me. Playing this character, it was really fun to be evil, I’ve got to be honest. I had a great time with it, and I’ll leave it there.
Since you’d never done it before, what was it like to work in the romantic comedy genre?
Odette: It was terrifying. I was very nervous. I was really insecure, coming into the role. I was working with Sigourney Weaver, Jamie Lee Curtis, Betty White and Kristen Bell, and all these woman that are naturally just really funny people, and I was nervous, but I pulled it together and really learned from all of them. I was able to make it through because none of them were catty. We actually all had a really great relationship. With so many women, you think something is bound to happen, but no. It was great.
Odette: No. I’m much more of a not-so-fussy person. I just really want a big party. I want good food, a lot of dancing and some cocktails flowing. That’s really all that I need. I want it to be outdoors and organic feeling. But, the wedding in the movie was really beautiful and it gave me those butterflies that women feel. I will be a married woman by the end of the year.
How did meeting your future in-laws go?
Odette: I’ve met the whole gang and they’re wonderful. They’re all New Yorkers, so they’re very sassy and fun. They’re a great family. The best thing is that both families work well together. That can be really tricky sometimes. I love my future in-laws. They’re a riot. They’re awesome. I have two future sister-in-laws. One just had a baby and the other one will not stop hounding me about what her and her kids should wear to the wedding.
What do you think about the idea of second chances?
Odette: I’m into them. I like second chances. I’ve given people second chances. You have fall-outs with friends, and forgiveness is a great thing to have. It’s not easy to forgive. I definitely don’t forget, but I do forgive. I do think that everybody deserves a second chance, so if my high school bully would like, I would accept that apology.
What was it like to work with Kristen Bell and Andy Fickman on set, knowing how long they’ve been friends?
Odette: They’ve got an interesting relationship. They know each other very, very well, and coming into that was a little intimidating because they know how they work. They just know each other like the back of their hand and they work really well together. I’m not experienced in comedy and I was a little intimidated, but they were both so warm and so welcoming. Kristen really is a good friend of mine now. Being together on a set, for hours and hours and hours, I didn’t have my girlfriends, so I had Kristen. I just dished out all of my gossip. I was like, “Here’s the deal, I need relationship advice. I know you don’t know me, but let’s get to know each other.” And, she was very willing to do so. She opened her arms wide and we had a great time.
How did you find the tone to play this character? Was it difficult to find the right balance, so that the audience still liked her and sympathized with her?
Odette: It was an interesting balance, and there was a fine line. I really, really needed to make the character redeemable at the end. If not, I don’t know if we would have had a movie. I hope that I did that. But then, I also needed to take the meanness to a level where people really didn’t like her, and that’s hard for me. I was always like, “Wow, am I taking it too far?” I didn’t want to push it too much. But, at the end of the day, you have to realize that you are playing a character and there are different levels, and you have to hit them. You can’t feel so for it. You have to go for it and let it go and trust yourself. You have to know that the work you’re doing is what you’ve prepared for. You can drive yourself crazy every single day thinking, “Oh god, I didn’t nail it. I didn’t do this. I didn’t do that.” But, I really do feel like I prepared for this role and hopefully it translates on film that I was sympathetic and the audience will feel sorry enough that they are excited for her to marry the brother.
Did you have to convince them that you could do comedy?
Odette: I feel so lucky that I was able to do this comedy. I stalked Andy. We had a meeting. He decided to meet with me even though he was like, “This girl has never done comedy and I’m clearly the comedy guy, so why am I meeting with her?” But, I pitched myself so hard. I was like, “Please, I really love this movie. It hits home for me. I’ve got to do this, Andy.” He was like, “Well, I think you’re great, but I don’t know what you can do.” So, we had to go through the whole auditioning process. I auditioned with Kristen in the room, and that was crazy. We had to do a chemistry read. Ultimately, I won the role. Hopefully, it was because I was so eager and I pushed and pushed and pushed. But, it ended up working out and I’m so thankful.
What do you have coming up?
Odette: Group Sex is an independent comedy about a group of sex addicts, and that was really fun. That was my first comedy. And then, there’s Operation: Endgame, which was a really funny script. It’s a dark comedy and I got to work with Zach Galifianakis, who is huge right now. That was fun. It used to be called Rogue’s Gallery, but they changed the title. I have And Soon the Darkness, which is a thriller. I just wrapped The Double, which is a spy thriller with Richard Gere and Topher Grace. I play Topher Grace’s wife. I got to play mom. I had a little baby and a 5-year-old kid. We started young, clearly. That was great, too.
Did you do a voice in Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2?
Odette: I did do that. I had always wanted to lend my voice to a character. I did a voice for this video game, called Fallout 3, and that was really fun. I had a great time, especially since I could show up in PJs and not have to worry about how I looked. Beverly Hills Chihuahua was such a great kids movie. All of my little cousins were like, “Wow, you’re going to be Chloe? That’s so cool!” I did it a lot for them, and it was just a way to get in there.
Would you and your fiancé, Dave Annable, like to work together in the future?
Odette: He really wants to work together, but I think it’s a horrible idea. I’m like, “Why would you want to do that?” If we have an argument while we’re working together, it’s just going to go back home with us. I don’t know. It might get messy. But, I might be open to the idea of doing a few episodes on Brothers & Sisters. That’s been thrown out there. With Emily Van Camp leaving the show, I think that they’ll probably find a girl for him to meet and Dave is like, “Please, please, please!,” and I’m like, “Sweetie, I love you, but we’ll see.” We work really well together. We’re best friends, which is the best part.