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May 2004
Saved: An Interview with Mandy Moore

By Wilson Morales

Saved: An Interview with Mandy Moore

With her singing career thriving, Mandy Moore is building upon her acting experience with each different role she takes. Earlier this year she starred in the romantic film, "Chasing Liberty", and now she's playing a supporting role in a film filled with actors her own age. Playing the good-girl Hilary Fey who preaches the word of the Lord in "Saved", Mandy spoke to blackfilm.com about her own religious beliefs and her upcoming film.

How much fun was this character?

MM: Too much fun. I think most people would be inclined to say that it's a lot more fun to play the bitch than it is to play the perfect girl cause everybody has a bad side inside of them. I definitely had fun.

With so many themes in this film, what message do you think people will walk away with?

MM: I'm so excited to finally be part of something for young people that is really smart and not obvious and not dumbdowned to them. In terms of what I want them to take away from the film, just having faith in something; finding faith in something because it works for you personally and because you've tested it and it's come back to be true.

How does this movie mesh in with your own belief system?

MM: To me, spirituality, and faith, and religion is a personal thing. I was raised Catholic but I feel that what works for me may not necessarily work for you and anyone else. It's a personal thing that satisfies me and grounds me and I don't feel I'm the type of person that needs to preach.

Were there any personal experiences you could relate to from the film that?

MM: You know what's funny. I went to Catholic high school for half a year and religion wasn't the cool thing to talk about even at a catholic high school. We had theology and we had mass every Friday but it wasn't the sort of thing that you talked about with your friend. It never came up. I think it was interesting to me and the other cast when we got to Vancouver and we went to this youth rock concert and they had someone there do a sermon and they had a rock group perform and I could see people my age and see that this is their lives and this is what grounds them and it's the most important thing in their life and it's fine to talk about it. I guess I didn't realize that there is this whole underground youth Christian movement. It's pretty incredible.

Do you worry how this film will be perceived in the Midwest?

MM: I don't think this film is controversial. At the end of the day, this film has something human to say and it has a very sweet touching message and it's a comedy and you're supposed to laugh. Although I don't think we are making fun of any particular group of people or what they believe in. There are people out there like the characters in the film. My character, Hilary Fey, whose heart is in the right place, is a bit overzealous at things.

With that being said, were you surprised that you couldn't shoot in certain places because the people found out what the film is about?

MM: A lot of Christian bands declined to have their music be part of the film, which was a little difficult when it came to shoot the prom scene and stuff because you want to have these popular Christian groups, but I think you have to come to expect that with religion there's going to be controversy. This film isn't for everyone.

Would you classify your character as an extreme fundamentalist?

MM: No, I wouldn't. She's somewhat a lost soul and her only identity is through Jesus and her relationship with Jesus and through that she manipulates and takes advantage of those around her. No, I never saw her as a miniature Tammy Faye Baker. Maybe Brian had other ideas but I sort of saw her as any other high school girl who happens to have another passion outside of boys or shopping or music or that sort of thing.

Speaking of music, was it also intended that you were going to sing in the film?

MM: Honestly, when I read the script, it was written in there that Hilary Fey would sing. It was a little convenient that my character would have to sing but I thought it was funny and appropriate. She has this group and of course she's the singer and has Mary accompany her. I thought it was pretty funny.

Do you sing in "Romance and Cigarettes"?

MM: Yes, well it's a musical and most of us are lip-synching to Bruce Springsteen, James Brown and stuff, but I do get to sing one sing. I sing Bow Wow Wow's "I want candy" in a scene.

And how's James Gandofini's singing?

MM: He's actually really good. I don't know if they're going to use his singing but obviously when you're lip-singing to something, you need to sing out loud to make it look like you're singing, but he's got a great voice.

What else do you have coming up? CNBC reported that Monica Lewinsky wants to make her story into a film and wants you to play her.

MM: I heard that somewhere. I guess I'm flattered. I'm a pretty modest girl. I don't think I'd be going down that road anytime soon. It's always flattering to hear someone say, "I want her to play me."

You've played the good girl and now the bad girl. So which one do you think has the most lessons to teach?

MM: I think I had the best of both worlds with Hilary Fey because she was the perfect mix of both. She's really a good person, and when she started to get a little over the top, she made her peace. As far as lessons, I think people would take more from this character as opposed to the other sweet characters I've played.

We heard that you did kareokee off the set.

MM: Yes, this was like our high school-college experience. I could not have had a more enjoyable experience. This was the perfect cast. We had so much fun on set. It was my first independent film experience. It was great to realize that everyone was there for all the right reasons. We had passion for what we were doing and we had fun, but when it was time to hunker down cause we only had 28 days to shoot, we really got a lot of work down.

What were some of the songs you sang?

MM: Jena and I did "Sweet Home Alabama" a couple of times. We all tried to do Eminem, which we thought would be easier as it went along, but it never did. Once you start it, you could never catch up. We had fun. It's fun to do this stuff and the film cause you're working with wonderful people and with this being an independent film, it was different experience for me, but I want to continue to find a good balance of both. Good projects. That's all. It doesn't matter where it comes from.

What do you think of the current state of the music industry?

MM: It's a little crazy right now. I just signed with Warner Bros. I just changed labels and I'm really excited cause I've been writing a lot and hopefully get to record more songs. I love being able to do a little bit of both. When I'm on a film set, like with this film, I miss so much. I miss being on stage and doing a video and having my band and being able to sing. So I feel blessed to be able to go back and forth between the two.

What's the next album going to sound like?

MM: I going to see how this music influence me and make me grow on the next record. I'm writing with people and finding my own way. I want to make the best coolest pop record I can make. I'm at a completely different place now. I feel like I actually have something to say and write about. I haven't in the past. I'm so excited to see how it's going to come from me and how it's going to out. It sounds weird cause bands have been doing it forever but it's such an exciting notion.

Do you ever think about going to school?

MM: Someday. For me, it feels important to go school; not necessarily to further my education but more like a hobby. I would love to study American history or even musical theater, but I also feel like doing some extensive study course or something on the road to occupy my time.

Is it still your dream to Guys and Dolls?

MM: Broadway is a huge dream. They just did a revival about 10 or 12 years ago so I don't think it's going to come back anytime soon. I just spent 2 months in New York and I was like, "Wouldn't this be exciting?" Broadway is still the ultimate dream for me.

What do you think of the clothes that Hilary Fey wore in the movie?

MM: I went to catholic school so I was used to uniforms, but the jump suit I wore for the Halloween scene was terrible. I'm sorry. I'm not going to name who made it, but she spread herself too thin with the jump suit. But in a way it was cool because Hilary Fey was confident with whatever she wore.

Do you feel old being 20 now?

MM: I don't know. It doesn't feel any different, maybe weird in saying 20. I'm not a teenager anymore but you always feel like the young one around. But then again, I remember that Vanity Fair photo shoot we did, and everyone there was like 15 and 16 and 17, and I felt so old. I'm not to use to that. I'm not use to feeling like the motherhen around.

With all the news surrounding the other girls in that photo in Vanity Fair, how do you stay levelheaded?

MM: My family. I know it sounds cheesy and stupid but I wish I had a little bit of rebellion in me, but I just can't do it. I can't stay up late. Honestly, I would go to bed at 10:30 and I would wake up early. I almost wish I had the phase in my life where I am a regular 20 year old who wants to go out and party.

Are you okay after the breakup (with Andy Roddick)?

MM: I'm good. I'm okay.

Life is good being single?

MM: Always have been, but I've learned that I am not going to talk about my personal life anymore. You have to learn that lesson sometime.

Did you grow up watching "Home Alone"?

MM: I think everyone did. Not everyone, but my age group. Yeah.

How was it to meet him (Macauley Culkin) in person?

MM: I remember walking down the street with him in Vancouver and he looks exactly the same and remembered that everywhere we went people would say, "There's the kid from Home Alone". I felt that it was so weird. We're in Canada, and everybody knows who he is. It's got to be insane and it's not like he's been in public eye lately. Macauley hasn't done much in the last couple of years. He sort of did his own thing for a bit. It's bizarre to have that life. He's just the coolest down to earth guy with a great sense of humor. All of us had a really great time, but I don't know if I had any preconceived notions of who he was or what he would be like. You meet him and there's no way he was this huge child star with a gazillion dollars. He's just Mac. He's so cool and so good in this movie.

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