Mine would include “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” “State of the Union,” “The Candidate,” “All the President’s Men,” “Charlie Wilson’s War,” “Frost/Nixon,” “Amazing Grace,” “Thirteen Days,” “All the King’s Men” (original version), “Advise and Consent” (with a brief cameo appearance by my mother!), “The Best Man,” “Dr. Strangelove,” “The Great McGinty,” “Bulworth,” and “Alias Nick Beal.”
In honor of the upcoming release of “High School Musical 3″ on DVD, Disney was nice enough to send along this interview with director Kenny Ortega of the series about the audition process. He talks about what he looks for, an actor who impressed him but took another job, and what it was like to audition Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens.
HEADLINE: LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION!
INTRO: Have you got what it takes to be the next Ashley Tisdale or Zac Efron? Fancy hitting the big time? Want to bag a role on HSM4? High School Musical director Kenny Ortega reveals the secrets to the perfect audition. Follow his top-secret audition advice and you’ll be a star of the silver screen in no time… Hi Kenny! What are your top audition tips for wannabe actors?
If you’re a young person who wants to become an actor, it’s really important to walk into a casting room with a sense of yourself and some life experience. You can really delight a room and have them already choose you before you’ve even said a word! How can that happen?
This actually happened to me years ago when a young Leonardo DiCaprio auditioned for me for a film. He ended up not doing it. He ended up doing a movie called What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, which was a good choice, but he came in and he completely won me over.
We hung out and he was so honest and real and fun and interesting. He was in the audition room with me and I said to him, “Well, get out of here and good luck. I wish I could’ve had you in my movie, but I understand you have a lot on your plate.” What was the movie you were casting?
It was a Disney movie called Hocus Pocus with Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy. He left the room and I picked up the phone to speak to my casting director. I said, “Oh my god! This kid is unbelievable. Where did you find him?” They explained that they knew I’d like him and asked how he read, but that’s when I realised I’d forgotten to ask him to read. That’s a true story.
Did you hang out with the new cast members from High School Musical 3 – Matt Prokop, Jemma McKenzie-Brown and Justin Martin – before you cast them?
It’s important for me to be able to have a conversation with the cast – and these three were very interesting to chat to. These three new kids – like Zac, Vanessa, Ashley, Lucas, Corbin and Monique – came into the room and were very interesting to hang out with. I like to know who I’m working with and it’s important because they’ve got to be able to bring something to the party. Is there one set question you ask at every audition?
Usually, I will ask, “What did you do before you came here today?” And I love it when I hear someone say, “I went for a bike ride.” Or, “I was riding my skateboard.” Or, “I was swimming.” Or, “I went for a walk.” Or, “I was hanging out with my best friend.” Or, “I was playing a video game.” I like that there is a life and that there is a person there.
What’s the wrong answer to this audition question?
I don’t want to hear, “I’ve been practicing my lines for a week.” To want to be an actor is enough – you don’t need to tell us about it. The interesting person who comes with some life experience is always the person who is going to be chosen by me.
Sometimes “nice” can be very high praise, and that is the way I mean it when I say that the utterly snark-free “High School Musical 3: Senior Year” is as nice as it gets. With a gossamer-weight plot line that makes Archie Comics look like Dostoyevksy but all the heart, spirit, and sweetness and fun its fans are hoping for, this is a resoundingly satisfying conclusion to the record-breaking trilogy. I admit it — I smiled, I tapped my feet, and I even wiped away a tear.
One thing I especially loved about the movie is the way it avoided the usual misunderstandings and hurt feelings. Troy (Zac Efron) and Gabriella (Vanessa Hudgens), who met singing a karaoke duet in the original HSM are thoughtful, kind, and committed throughout this film. The overall tone of the movie is sugary, but they are much more authentic than most movie couples in the way they trust and support one another. It is such a relief to see them so solidly together as they try to address their problems. There is no silliness about their relationship, which is supported by everyone around them. That means that when they are not singing or worrying there is not much for them to do but smile their dazzling smiles at each other, but the singing and dancing is great, the smiles are indeed dazzling, and they do have one breathtakingly romantic moment that is surprisingly touching because it is utterly pure and simple and lovely.
Like all high school seniors, Gabriella and Troy feel that everything is moving too fast. They are excited about college but wish they could hold on to everything they have loved at East High. They are trying to figure out how to understand what is right for them, which may not be what their parents want. And they have counted the miles between the schools they are planning to attend and are not looking forward to being so far away from each other. Everyone is just too busy and distracted to be in another musical show this year but somehow Gabriella once again brings them all together for what they know will be their last chance.
But Mean Girl Sharpay (Ashley Tisdale vamping like a cross between Paris Hilton, Christina Aguilera, and Cruella deVil) wants to be the star of the show. With her twin brother Ryan (Lucas Grabeel), the show choreographer, she dreams of having it all in a sensational dance number in the school cafeteria that is a throwback to the all-out show-stoppers of the classic MGM musicals. Sharpay has a car with a “Fabulous” license plate, a personal assistant with a British accent, some truly impressive hair, a double locker with a padded interior and a make-up mirror, and an endless series of tiny miniskirts. Her entrance is sensational — as all of the kids are in bright red in tribute to the championship basketball team, she comes in the door in flaming hot pink.
The musical numbers are sheer delight, especially Efron’s athletic romp in a junkyard with pal Chad (Corbin Bleu) and his Fred Astaire-inspired, literally off-the-wall solo in the school late at night. Troy and Gabriella just might bring back the waltz with their lovely pas de deux in the school’s rooftop garden. They might bring back the idea of sweet, tender romance where one special kiss means everything, too.
It seems like a very minor infraction compared to the recent Chris Brown/Michael Phelps/A-Rod transgressions, but Miley Cyrus had to apologize again — twice — for a photograph that appeared to mock Asians.
Her first apology was a bit defensive and accusatory.
“I’ve also been told there are some people upset about some pictures taken of me with friends making goofy faces! Well, I’m sorry if those people looked at those pics and took them wrong and out of context! In no way was I making fun of any ethnicity! I was simply making a goofy face. When did that become newsworthy? According to MTV.com, she said: “It seems someone is trying to make something out of nothing to me. If that would have been anyone else, it would have been overlooked! I definitely feel like the press is trying to make me out as the new ‘bad girl’!”
She had to do better than that. On her website, she wrote, accepting responsibility instead of blaming the press and the victims: “I want to thank all of my fans for their support not only this week, but always! I really wanted to stress how sorry I am if the photo of me with my friends offended anyone. I have learned a valuable lesson from this and know that sometimes my actions can be unintentionally hurtful. I know everything is a part of GOD’s ultimate plan, and mistakes happen so that eventually I will become the woman he aspires me to be.”
It seems a lot to come down so hard on a young woman who has in many ways been such a wholesome role model for girls. But her success brings with it an enhanced responsibility and if she must learn some difficult lessons in public at least her young fans can benefit from seeing her develop the grace to respond appropriately.
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