Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Movie Mom meets Traveling Pants Girls (Chicago Tribune)

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is the story of four close friends who are separated for the first time the summer they are 16, and who stay connected by sharing a very special pair of blue jeans. It's based on the popular book by Ann Brashares.

Two of the stars of the movie, Amber Tamblyn and Blake Lively, sat down for an interview, and it was clear that they were friends off-screen as well, as Amber draped her legs across Blake’s lap and questions led to memories that made them laugh and each wanted to make sure the other got the most attention.

What’s on your iPod?
Both: Everything!
Amber: John Lennon – the last thing I got was Ono Band Live. Also Tony Bennett, Squarepusher, and Autechre.
Blake: Etta James, Chet Baker, Britney Spears, Eminem, country, anything but hard metal rock.
Amber: Oh, I have to get you to listen to some Metallica! I like stuff that can’t be found on iTunes, like Master of Puppets.

Any favorite television shows?
Amber: I don’t watch anything but “Arrested Development” – pure genius, and “Carnivale”
Blake: “Rugrats!”

Last year, it seemed like all the movies were about mean girls, but your movie is about close and loyal friends. Which is more like your own experience?
Amber: Both are equally true. Mean Girls gets a lot of credit because it’s about the psychology of young women and how they treat each other. For some reason, we like to watch that more – we think it’s funny. Girls sticking together and not being pitted against each other the way they are in our movie is not in movies as often.
Blake: There are mean girls in high school, but your friendships are what get you through. That is what I’ll remember, the people I’ve had a connection with and who know me inside and out will be lifelong friends.

The girls in the movie are so different. What keeps them close to each other?
Amber: It’s the difference that makes them close. They have their separate lives but when they get back together it’s like old times. They have that great familiarity, which especially matters in hard times. Not having a lot in common makes conversations more interesting.

Even though the girls in the movie are the closest of friends, they don’t spend much time together on screen. What did Ken Kwapis, the director, do to help you create a sense of connection to each other?
Amber: He had us sit in a circle and then everyone else left the room so we could decide for ourselves what we wanted to do in the scene, how we wanted to handle the pacing and everything.
Blake: He trusted us. He was very open, very sweet, very loving, very patient. He shared stories about himself that showed he understood a story about young girls. And he showed he understood by letting us work together to let the scenes evolve instead of telling us what to do.
Amber: And off screen we joked and laughed and hung out, we went to movies and slept over, and did loads of shopping.
Blake: We meshed right away. When we got together, it was mayhem. We choreographed routines to Vanilla Ice songs! We had the same sense of humor and lots of inside jokes. So we were friends for real. If one of the four of us hadn’t been as weird as we all are, it wouldn’t have worked.

Most movies, especially movies for younger audiences, make sure they have happy endings with all the stories neatly tied up, but this one does not. Why is that?
Amber: I like it when things are not wrapped up. You want to see that there are still places to go. At the end of the movie, Tibby is still not sure how her experience has affected her. She began by looking for what was boring or stupid, but she learns from Bailey (played by Jenna Boyd), who looks for the light and the good, even in Tibby herself. The ending is happy because the friendships are still together.
Blake: It’s more like real life. Even movies about mean girls have happy endings, but that doesn’t always happen.

How is making a movie different from your previous experiences?
Amber: TV is 16 hours a day, 5 days a week. Film gives you a lot more room for the creative process, more time to spread it out, get into certain scenes. It gave me time to let go of physical habits that become repetitive to think about how this character sits, stands, and moves and think about quirky, cool things I wanted to do. For my part in Joan of Arcadia I have a certain way of talking and do a lot with my hands. For the part of Tibby in this movie, I had bad posture, didn’t use my hands so much.
Blake: This was my first job! Before you do it, you think about the glamour – someone to drive you, do your hair and clothes, you act like someone else for a little while and go home. I was surprised by how much work goes into it. We worked some 20-hour days and when we were shooting at night we didn’t see daylight at all for a while. You have to have as much energy 16 hours later as you did when you started.

Were there any scenes that were especially difficult?
Blake: I had to train for two months for the soccer scenes. And there was one scene of running on the beach that we had to do over and over because of a problem with the film. The running was hard, but important because the character is running away from her painful memories and feelings.

What’s next?
Amber: More films, including “Stephanie Daly” with Tilda Swinton, which I might also co-produce.
Blake: Next for me is graduation; no time to do anything else!

1 comment:

writer_cutie said...

I think the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants was such a good movie. I even almost cried at the end. Good job, Blake and Amber! It's also so cool that you are friends in real life now!