banner image

:: Spotlight :: She's The Man - Interview with Amanda Bynes

By: Catherine Naghten

Amanda Bynes is a bubbly twenty year old but already has ten years experience in the film and television industry, having even hosted her own variety show. Now starring in the new teen comedy She’s The Man, Amanda plays a girl who pretends to be a boy to make the school soccer team. Catherine Naghten spoke to her in Melbourne.

How are you finding Australia? Is it your first time here?

I’m having a great time. Yes, it’s my first time.

What attracted you to She’s the Man?

I was really excited to be in a movie that was in between an older, adult comedy and a teen comedy. It was sort of a smart script and something that seemed like a fun thing to be part of. I couldn’t pass it up.

Do you plan to keep heading in the comedy direction?

You know I started out doing plays in where I grew up. I did ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ and ‘Secret Garden’ and both are dramatic roles. I just have a love for stories and the arts and plays- things of that nature. So, it just sort of has happed that I’ve done this and it’s one of those things I love to do but also a part of me loves to do dramatic roles too.

How hard was it to transform yourself into a boy?

It was not that difficult. It was just a wig, side-burns and eyebrows. It’s a character that you play, just like any other character. It’s a little bit easier because you have a different look and you dress up. It’s easier than playing a different character when you’re dressed as yourself because you have to keep reminding yourself you’re someone else because you look like yourself. This one I had no problem because I didn’t look like myself.

Viola shows girls they can be whatever they want to be. How important do you think that message is?

I think that message is really important and I don’t think there are enough movies for kids that do send that message of ‘you can go for what you believe in’ and it’s very strong - you know my character’s very strong from the beginning. I know when I was a kid I would’ve loved a movie like this because, you know, you have a good time.

Did you do a lot of training for the soccer scenes?

I did. I’d never been so active in my life you know, and in that beginning scene my abs are cut. When I saw it I didn’t realise that I was in such good shape so I was like ‘that’s like the coolest thing I’ve ever seen’ because they are not like that at all anymore. We trained for two months before, and that’s soccer every day. In addition, I was doing all sorts of things to just get in the best shape. The amount of muscle you have to have in your leg to kick a ball, you don’t realise, and out there, it was intense. The soccer players are so good I was fighting to stay alive.

So, they weren’t going easy on you at all?

They were so nice. The whole cast and especially the good soccer players they would just be like ‘do it like this, it’ll look better’. Like, so nice when they could’ve been so mean. That really helped.

In the US, you’re known from your TV Show. Does that help or harm your chances in getting film roles?

Not really, because it’s not like I was on Friends or a show that was really popular show with adults. It was all kids. So as they’re growing up, I think they’ve sort of followed me and now with this movie it’s a totally different thing than in the show.

Do you have a preferred medium?

Definitely movies. You can’t describe how exciting it is. Also being able to travel. With a show, you don’t ever really get to do that. It’s just a wider appeal with a movie.

Is it difficult to get used to working on one story over several months when you’re used to TV where it’s a new story each week?

Yeah, the only thing is with a movie it’s three months, with a show it’s almost a year. I think that on a show it’s almost more boring because it’s the same character, even though it’s different storylines. It’s like a sitcom and you get bored, just when you’re doing something over and over. With different movies, you do a character and then for me, it’s special little piece of my life - a time in my life. You can’t get it back, but it’s like a memory that’s like sort of frozen you know. It’s like having a video documentary of a time in your life.

What actors have inspired you in your career?

I always loved Lucille Ball - when I grew up she was like my favourite female actress - and Jim Carrey. I’ve always been a big fan of his and he was the sort of person that was always hilarious just because he went for it and just had a great sense of humour. Each role he does he brings his own… even when he’s schick he’s never the same. You know, from the Grinch to all the different things he’s done, Dumb and Dumber…he really has amazing talent.

What do you enjoy about comedy?

I think it’s just so much more fun than being serious. It’s having a good time. This is just so much fun for me but doing something dramatic would be more challenging so I think I would enjoy that in it’s own right.

It sounds like you’re interested in both the drama and comedy sides of things. What sort of movies would you like to do now?

I don’t know. I would love to play different roles. I’d love to play a crazy intense role, like a messed up kid or something just because it’s so different to what I’ve done.

Was it difficult to keep up the voice in the film because it’s so not like your voice?

(Laughs) It was definitely hard for me to keep my voice low at all times because it was 15 hour days where I’m a guy all day long. When we’re doing takes so many times, people would remind me when they wanted me to keep it low but there’s so many times that we wanted it to be kind of uncertain what my voice was. I’m never supposed to be that good at it, because you always want to have it so I’m almost caught.

So you didn’t take your disguise into the real world to see if you were fooling anyone?

No, I wanted to because when do you ever have a chance to do that? But at the end of the day I wanted it off so badly because it was a long day.

When did you decide to become an actor?

I decided I wanted to become an actor when I was doing plays. I didn’t know that it was becoming an actor but I got a list of agents just to audition for a commercial. I did a bunch of different commercials for candy, fast food chains and what not. I auditioned for the movies but I never got one until my show, because that’s when people started believing in me. When you meet me I’m bubbly, and all the roles that they wanted girls of my age for, around the time I was about ten, were all like depressed daughters of more famous actors. All those actors, those younger girls, haven’t done anything since. It’s weird that I kept going and I think not getting those roles made me fight to do my own thing. The show was my own unique talent. People wouldn’t cast me, so I created it myself.

Do you have a favourite scene in the film?

I like a lot of the scenes. They make me laugh because I think back to the time and they’re just funny to watch. One of my favourite ones is between Duke and myself when we’re in the dorm room. I’d just kissed him as a girl and he’s telling me, “I kissed your sister”, and I’m like “Reeeally?” (In her Sebastian voice). That whole scene where I’m in love with him. It’s one of those scenes where you see my feelings for him but… yeah comedy-wise that was my favourite scene because I got to be very physical.

What’s next for you?

I don’t have anything lined up yet. I’m going back home and will have a couple of different meetings for different projects. So it’s a matter of which one wants me and which one, you know, speaks to me, and which one sort of works out.

We’ll keep our eyes out for you the future.

Thank you very much.