The fantasy film Beastly, based on the novel by Alex Flinn, takes the much loved story of Beauty and the Beast and turns it into a modern-day teen romance about learning to see past the surface to discover true inner beauty. Kyle (Alex Pettyfer) is a spoiled 17-year-old who is the king of his high school. When he chooses the next classmate to target for humiliation, he is unaware that Kendra (Mary-Kate Olsen) is a witch who decides to teach him a lesson. Once she transforms him into someone as unattractive on the outside as he is on the inside, he is given one year to find someone who can see past that and truly love him anyway, or he will remain that way forever. When he crosses paths with Lindy (Vanessa Hudgens), a girl who normally prefers to blend in and live life under the radar, he realizes that she may be his only chance to find someone who can see the beauty within.
During the film’s press day, actress Vanessa Hudgens talked about having been a big fan of the Disney animated movie, how she likes the realism this version of the story has, what it was like to see Alex Pettyfer as the beast for the first time, and how being close with her family keeps her grounded in a town that is built on superficiality. She also talked about her upcoming roles in Sucker Punch and Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. Check out what she had to say after the jump:
VANESSA HUDGENS: When I sat down with Daniel Barnz, our director, the first thing he said to me was that the beast would have no fur. I thought that was really interesting because that’s how it’s always been looked at. Taking that away gave it a whole new reality and realism that hasn’t been touched on before. I am a big fan of the original Disney animated movie. I grew up on those movies. I wanted to be Belle. What girl didn’t want to be a princess and find a guy who she could call her own and who transforms into a handsome prince? I’ve always been such a big fan. I’m definitely for the message, and have always believed in that.
How do you perceive your character?
HUDGENS: Lindy is the girl who thinks it’s easier to go through life under the radar. She just blends in because it’s easier. That’s why I think this story is so beautiful. Through somebody else and through the beauty that she sees in him, it helps her find herself as well.
HUDGENS: I feel like a lot of people think of Hollywood as being fake, but it’s only perceived that way because it takes 10 people to make someone look the way that they do. In reality, they’re there because they are doing what they’re passionate about. I feel like I’ve been fortunate enough that I’ve gotten to meet and work with some really passionate people. They are where they are because they’re doing what they truly love.
What was your reaction, the first time you saw Alex Pettyfer as the beast?
HUDGENS: It was odd. It was really, really weird. They kept it a secret from me, as long as they could. And then, one night, he was in Daniel’s trailer and they called me in, and he was just sitting there. I was literally in shock. I didn’t know what to say or do, and he was just looking up at me and not saying a word. It was really haunting, but fascinating, at the same time. I loved it. I thought there was something so mysterious and sexy about it. It was cool.
HUDGENS: I think a really beautiful thing that this movie shows is that you have to love yourself before you can love anyone. I think that’s very, very important, no matter how old you are or what you’re doing. You have to be able to love yourself because that’s when things fall into place.
What was it like to work with Neil Patrick Harris?
HUDGENS: So much fun. We had such a blast. Neil is not only hysterical and his body of work is amazing, but he was such a really, really sweet, kind guy. He’s so generous and really committed. He wore these contacts in his eyes, so that he actually could not see. He could see out of his peripherals, but he couldn’t see what was going on, which made things interesting. He’s a lot of fun.
How was the experience of working with Mary-Kate Olsen?
HUDGENS: One thing that I really took from Mary-Kate was just her way of being. She is surprisingly very laid-back, and just a really cool, smart and collected girl. I’m such a big fan of hers, ever since I was young. I love her and her sister’s fashion lines. She’s just really surprisingly grounded, and a cool chick.
HUDGENS: It was amazing. It was so much fun. It was a really great place for me, in a sense of self-discovery and just spending time by myself. I would rent bikes and ride down by the water. We were there shooting during the summer and I remember the jazz festival going on. I walked out onto my balcony, and I saw a screen down the street with somebody swaying back and forth, and I listened, and it was Stevie Wonder singing “I Just Called to Say I Loved You.” We would watch fireworks on my balcony. It was just a really beautiful, magical place.
Do you have a favorite scene in the film?
HUDGENS: There were several scenes that I really enjoyed. One really great thing that Daniel worked with us on is the banter that our characters have. It’s like when you meet somebody new and you can tell there’s an attraction because you’re just bouncing things right off of each other. That’s one thing that we really wanted to establish. Some of the scenes where are banter is just in sync with each other are really sweet.
Your character Lindy receives a letter from Kyle about his feelings. Have you ever written a letter like that to someone?
HUDGENS: I actually was a pen pal with one guy, a long time ago. I think we only wrote to each other twice. We didn’t really keep it up that long. But, I love it. I think it’s really sweet and very creative and freeing, when you get to put a pen to paper, ‘cause you don’t really do it that much these days, with all this technology. That’s actually how my parents met. They were pen pals. My mom was in the Philippines and my father was in the States, and they wrote to each other. He went out to meet her and they wed, not too long after.
HUDGENS: Definitely my family. I’m so close to my mom, my sister and my dad. If it wasn’t for them, I would not be the person that I am, and I obviously wouldn’t be here. It’s just about keeping people who are close to me, near. It’s important to have people around who love themselves, are true to themselves, who have their own hobbies and their world doesn’t revolve around Hollywood. I can always go to my family with any doubts or questions I may have.
What do you have coming up next?
HUDGENS: Sucker Punch is coming out on March 25th. I’m very excited about that because not only is it fun and big with lots of action, but it also leaves you with a really great message that says you basically have control of your future and your destiny. I got to work with some amazing young women. I also just shot a movie called Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. I got to work with Michael Caine, which was awesome. And, I got to shoot in Hawaii for two months. It’s going to be a fun, big 3D adventure.