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March 2005
D.E.B.S.: An Interview with Meagan Good and Jill Ritchie

D.E.B.S: An Interview with Meagan Good and Jill Ritchie

By Todd Gilchrist

Thus far in her fledgling career, Meagan Good has frequently been found on the sidelines of her movies' action scenes; from "Biker Boyz" to "You Got Served", she's always been there to cheer on her male co-stars. In "D.E.B.S.", Good finally gets to participate; as a member of an elite group of co-ed crime fighters, she leaps into the fray as aggressively as any one of her former collaborators. Good and her co-star Jill Ritchie recently spoke to blackfilm.com to discuss her latest role, her camaraderie with her female co-stars, and taking charge of her career.

You were in the first movie - how did your character change from that from that film?

JILL: My character didn't change at all actually, it just got extended and I was able to have a lot more time to do more with it, but ultimately my character was the exact same, and Angela said that she kind of wrote my character in the feature, catered towards my performance in the short. It was kind of for me - I developed the character in the short, and then in the film I was able to really just have more screen time to do that character and obviously different plot, not different plot but - the plot was the same, so just a longer version to do it.

Did any of your girls have super woman fantasies going up, where you wanted to be a very kick-ass superhero?

MEAGAN: Oh, I wanted to be Catwoman. Definitely.

JILL: I loved Wonder Woman, and I think, yeah, because of the success of Wonder Woman and Catwoman and Charlie's Angels and stuff like that, every young girl says, 'Oh, wouldn't it be fun.'

You had the biggest gun - did you say I want a bigger gun than anybody else?

MEAGAN: No, that was the way it was written. Max was kind of borderline psychotic, always the first one to pull her gun, the leader of the D.E.B.S. and she just - she's just like that you know. Actually, when I first saw the guns I knew they were going to be heavy, but I was determined to hold them anyway no matter how long, or how many hours, I was determined to learn how to shoot them, everything. Once the guy saw how small I was, he was like, 'You know, you're kind of small, do you want smaller guns?' I was like, 'No, no, I want the big guns.' He was like, 'Alright, it's kind of heavy.' And he put it in my hand and I was like, 'No it's not' (her hand drops down showing how heavy it was). And then I learned how to shoot it and it was a lot of fun. By the time we were shooting I was using it off the side of the camera as weights for my arms in between shots

Did they do any special how-to-hold-a-gun training?

MEAGAN: Oh yeah, they definitely taught us how to shoot the guns, and how to get comfortable with blanks and real bullets, but that was my second or third time

Now you go to the shooting range in your free time.

MEAGAN: No, but I actually might start. I actually had a really good time.

Any weapon in particular that you've grown fond of shooting?

MEAGAN: Just guns.

Were you comfortable with the guns?

JILL: It was my first time using guns in a film and it's a little scary because you are told that it has blanks in it and when you shoot it it gives you the kickback I guess you would have even if you were shooting a real bullet, and it really kind of jolts you. So for me the struggle was, when it would jolt my body was still trying to make it look real, like I was used to it, because I think a couple of shots, Angela was like, 'Cut. Jill, you were squinting.' I was like (demonstrates squinting), and she was like, 'You can't look like that.' That was kind of a struggle for me. I don't think I'll be going to the range any time soon, and I don't know if I'll be getting offers to shoot guns.

You were in Biker Boyz and You Got Served, how does it feel to be able to be the one who's like creating the action rather than reacting to something?

MEAGAN: It's definitely fun-er. Just the whole aspect of the stunts that we had to learn and shooting the guns, and just the action in the movie and the outfits, the camaraderie, it just was a good experience overall and I just liked the fact of us four just beating people up. It was fun.

Did you guys do a lot of training for that?

JILL: A little, but not a lot. We had a couple of classes with some kung fu guys.

MEAGAN: There were these little boys that could run up a wall and flip over, that was interesting.

Did they try to make you do that?

JILL: They tried.

MEAGAN: They tried; you don't want to know what happened. We were like, 'Call the stunt double.'

Is it more challenging or more fun to be the dorky girl or the ultra-sexy girl?

JILL: I think the more like dorky, quirky girl, is maybe more in my nature and is what comes easier to me. Trying to be sexy, I actually think that sexiness comes through that though, I love watching Cameron Diaz, she doesn't seem too aware of how pretty she's always looking, and I find that really attractive. Or like Jennifer Aniston on Friends, so I would hope that my sexiness can come through that, because I think what's sexy is what you're doing most naturally, to try to be sexy and pout your lips or do your hair, isn't as sexy, for me at least.

You got the guy anyway.

JILL: I did get a guy, I did get a guy.

You're in Herbie Fully Loaded now - what do you play in that film?

JILL: I play this character named Charisma, who is a friend to Lindsay Lohan's character, and I just kind of give her some words of wisdom in her drama in the movie, and Charisma is a name that says it all, bubbly, fun.

All these reports that Lindsay was partying and showing up late, what was your experience working with her?

JILL: She was absolutely fine. I think the camera loves her, I think she is a star, I think she's great at what she does, and she's a natural, so I don't know what all that stuff is about, I don't really personally try to pay attention to it, when I'm wrapped I go home and do my own thing and I never really discussed Lindsay's personal life with her. It's more challenging I'll tell you working on a big budget film where the media is so interested in the star's personal life, I think it was hard for Angela at times too, we just wanted to do our jobs, so that was a totally different experience than D.E.B.S for me, but she was fine.

But then didn't she go to the hospital.

JILL: I wasn't shooting those weeks, so I can't tell you much about it.

How long did you work on that film?

JILL: I worked on Herbie for a period of maybe six weeks.

Are you in any cool car driving action scenes?

JILL: I drive a car, but I'm not in the action driving scenes. I pull up in a car.

How different was Angela as a director on this film?

JILL: That's the one thing about Angela, she's been the same since the short, that's what's been amazing to see, because I've done the short, D.E.B.S. and now this Herbie movie, she knows what she wants when she shows up on set (someone interrupts her, is she more nervous on a bigger project?) No, maybe that's why she's so successful; she's just really a great director to work with.

Did you have to learn how to roller skate for Roll Bouce - that hasn't been released yet, has it?

MEAGAN: No, July 1st. Yeah, because you know what, I roller bladed (as a kid). I started out roller skating, and then roller blades became the new, hot thing, and I forgot how to roller skate, and I did bust my you-know-what a couple of times on set, but all-in-all it was fun re-learning it, but I definitely prefer roller blades.

Doesn't this take place back in the '70s, when roller skating was all the rage - it's a roller rink kind of thing?


Did you do any adlibbing on the set at all?

JILL: I think we pretty much stuck to the script.

MEAGAN: There may have been like teeny tiny things here and there, but nothing major.

How cold was it on the set with those skirts?

MEAGAN: It wasn't too bad, we carried robes around.

JILL: They had these big robes and slippers, which anytime they'd say, 'Cut,' they'd throw over you.

MEAGAN: Devon was the funniest though, she's be somewhere in a little corner with both her feet completely up, tucked into a little ball (demonstrates) rolling back and forth, waiting to shoot. I was like, 'How did you get in that position, and where's your jacket?' And she'd be totally cool just waiting for the next shot.

You were probably two inches off the ground when you were on those swings?

JILL: No, we were up. (everyone talking at once) we had big mats below us in case we fell.

MEAGAN: It was interesting.

How did you get up there?

MEAGAN: You'd sit in the chair at the bottom and they'd wind us all the way up, and then when you need touch-ups it was kind of like, 'Here's your lip gloss' (indicates someone throwing it up to them - and her catching it) 'I got it.'

JILL: They actually sent us up there with like, they were like, 'Here, do you want your brush?' We're like, 'Give us our brush.' Kind of found a place for your brush.

What were the challenges of the CGI work on the film?

MEAGAN: It was a little bit weird. Like sitting at the table, the scene where it was us four and Michael Clarke Duncan. There's supposed to be this big screen and us watching Lucy Diamond, all the stuff about her as we're eating our food and here we are just sitting looking into mid-air. There were things behind it but we couldn't look at those things, we had to be looking right here. It was so hard to do for all of us to look at the same spot and there was nothing there.

JILL: It's always interesting to see the movie when it's finished, how those things come out, especially with action. So much of it is done in different ways while you're shooting it and faked, so when you see it in a movie you're like 'wow. It looks great' and you have no idea when you're shooting it. Do I look retarded or what? We were all really impressed.

At what stage do you guys see the movie?

MEAGAN: Most of the time it's pretty much done. There might be some musical changes or some last minute effects or something like that.

Who do you think this movie is made for?

MEAGAN: I hope that everyone will go and see it.

JILL: I hope it doesn't just get put into a box. I think there's more to it. A 12-year-old girl could go see it and say, 'that's great. I want to be like Lucy' and another person who is older could see it and could feel for the love story. I think the love story is pretty amazing and more importantly, being between two girls is great. You have to conquer a lot of hurdles to get to the best part of love. It's not always easy. Sometimes you don't have any control over who you are going to fall in love with and maybe your parents don't want you to be with that person. I think it says a lot about finding out who you are.

MEAGAN: And follow your heart, a girl should be who she is not just who she's in love with, whether it be a girl or the villain, or whether it being her not wanting to be a part of the DEBS, wanting to go to art school, whatever it is. Just be honest and true to yourself. If your friends around you love you, they'll wish you the best and want only what's going to make you happy.

What do you think about becoming Lesbian icons?

JILL: If they love us, great! Like I said before, if a gay woman wants to see this as a gay film, that's great. That's great if it can reach her for something, just like a straight man is seeing it because he thinks five girls in a film would be great to go watch. That's great for him too. In doing some gay press for this, it's been great. Any type of minority or sexuality that hasn't been mainstream or accepted, you're happy to be something that stands for them and make them feel more accepted. I think it's great.

A lot of straight men might want to see it as a Lesbian film too.

JILL: Yeah. And you know what, that's great too. There's so many ways to interpret it.

How did you maintain all the relationships between the characters?

MEAGAN: I think we became very comfortable with each other on set and on rehearsals, really quickly. And, a lot of it was just natural as far as the character stuff we had to do like me being mean to her (Jill) or stuff like that. It really wasn't that hard because Angela (the director) knew exactly what she wanted. As far as character goes, she knew what every character would or wouldn't do from head to toe, inside out.

JILL: You start to just trust her. There are moments when you are like 'was that too much?' And she's like 'No, no, no. It's perfect, it's great. Trust me'.

Meagan, are you worried about being stuck as a high school-age girl forever?

MEAGAN: I think, right now, I feel like I'm not in a rush. I have the rest of my life to be an adult. I'm 23. While I can still play high school, teenage stuff, I'll still do it. I'd like to do both. But, inevitably, I will be playing an adult soon but I'm not in a rush. In Roll Bounce, I reverted back to playing sixteen which was really interesting to me. I'm appreciative either way it goes.

Meagan, what is Backwater about?

MEAGAN: Backwater is a horror movie from the makers of Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer and my character's grandmother is a Voo Doo priestess and I kind of grew up in the whole Voo Doo thing, kind of an outcast. It's also with Jonathan Jackson, Agnes Bruckner, Melanie Griffin. It's a really good cast. What ends up happening, these snakes that are used in ceremonies to milk people when they are possessed by demons, are kept in this cage that is buried in this burial ground. And, hundreds of thousands of different people have been 'de-milked' I guess you could say by these snakes. My grandmother finds out that they are going to turn the burial ground into a mill so she goes to dig up the snakes and take them to a safer place. In the process, she gets into a car accident and a guy jumps over the bridge to try and save her and he dives into the car, realizes that she's dead. He tries to get out and he gets locked in the car with the snakes. They attack him and now he's possessed by the evil of countless souls.

Did you have to work with the snakes yourself?

MEAGAN: No, I didn't but I'm not afraid of snakes. I'm petrified of spiders. I would never do Arachnophobia. It would never happen.

Was being in a horror movie a different kind of challenge for you?

MEAGAN: Spiritually, the whole Voo Doo thing was a little difficult for me because in my particular spirituality, I just don't believe in different Gods and all this Voo Doo stuff. But, I came to know that Voo Doo isn't actually evil like a lot of people think it is. It's not as negative as people think it is. I did ask to have some things removed that had to do with Gods and make them more like souls or spirits just for my personal beliefs. But, overall, it was really fun. The characters are really weird and kind of out there.

You've done a lot of pop movies (Biker Boyz and You Got Served). Are you looking for more challenging dramatic work, or be an action heroine?

MEAGAN: I want to do everything. Right now, this is the kind of film I've been doing mostly. But I'm definitely wanting to get into everything; do some monsters type stuff. I think right now, because of the age-range I play in, that's what most of the films have been but things are changing as we speak.

Personally, what do you two like to wear?

JILL: I'm most comfortable in jeans. That's what I would go for with a cute top. I know it's a cliché to say 'I'm a jeans and t-shirt girl' but that's what I'm comfortable in.

MEAGAN: I love jeans. I love hippy stuff like thin t-shirts, scarves, flip flops. Love hats. That's my number one. I always wear hats. I'm surprised I'm not wearing one today. Big earrings, lots of bangles.

What kind of music do you like:

MEAGAN: I like Gwen Stefani's album right now. But I grew up liking White Snake, Pat Benetar, Arrowsmith and stuff like that.

JILL: I love rap and hip-hop. I love Jay-Z, 50 Cent.

Meagan, weren't you in a 50 Cent video?

MEAGAN: It's so funny because, when I got the call for the video I had heard 'Go Shorty, it's your Birthday Song' and Langston and I was like 'Ew, he sucks. These songs suck'. And then I heard '21 Questions' and I was like 'Oh, I like this one. Maybe he doesn't suck'. And then they call me and say 'will you play his young wife in the video and I was like 'sure, why not? He's a really good artist. The song is great, whatever'. I went to do the video and it was really embarrassing because my best friend went with me and she was like 'yeah, we were all singin' in the car and Meagan was stuffed into the back seat and she couldn't roll the window down. She's like, 'I can't take it'. Then we put on 50 Cent and she got out of the car and said 'I'll walk home'. And she told him that story. He laughed and said 'I like you a lot more now'. After that we were buddies.

What about a sequel to this film?

MEAGAN: It's mildly being discussed.

JILL: Yeah, I would love to do it. Overseas with a bigger budget.

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