It’s been more than six months since Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers opened at the Cannes Film Festival, but many U.S. moviegoers will get their first glimpse of the raunchy, candy-colored drama when it opens nationwide Friday.
For former teen queen Selena Gomez, the opening officially marks her departure from the squeaky-clean Disney scene and is her first project that is decidedly inappropriate for her legions of young “Selenators” (or fans).
“There’s gonna be the intrigued preteens that are gonna want to sneak in and see the movie, and that’s obviously something I can’t control,” Gomez tells The Hollywood Reporter in a recent interview. “[I can] definitely warn them as best I can, but the movie is rated R, and it’s kind of a given when you see the trailer that you should be old enough to see the movie.”
Try telling that to her 14.5 million Twitter followers, who are dedicated to proclaiming their love for Gomez on the microblogging site and who have supported her acting and music career since she was 15, when she broke out as a teen wizard on Disney Channel’s Wizards of Waverly Place.
In a strange twist, Gomez returned to Wizards with the TV special Alex Vs. Alex on March 15 – the same day Spring Breakers opened in limited release in New York and Los Angeles.
The 20-year-old smiles wide at the mention of her small-screen return (“I saw it, woo hoo!” she says excitedly) but confirms that she’s done with her days as Alex Russo.
“I think that was definitely as far as we could go with it,” she says. “But I thought it was perfect, I really did. I loved it. It was so cute, and it was like a little reunion for us.”
Read THR’s full interview with Gomez below, in which she weighs in on co-star James Franco’s performance (“He was everything in that movie”) and reveals what made her female co-stars physically ill on set.
Spring Breakers, co-starring Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson and Rachel Korine (the director's wife), opens Friday.
The Hollywood Reporter: You have been promoting this movie for a while now.
Selena Gomez: It feels like forever (Laughs).
THR: You’ve advised your younger fans not to see the movie. Do you think they’ll listen?
SG: There’s gonna be the intrigued preteens that are gonna want to sneak in and see the movie, and that’s obviously something I can’t control. [I can] definitely warn them as best as I can, but the movie is rated R, and it’s kind of a given when you see the trailer that you should be old enough to see the movie.
THR: Do you worry about the reaction that the younger ones might have if they do sneak in?
SG: I don’t know. It’s interesting. I’ve gotten a little bit of mixed everything. At the end of the day, this is a film, this is a journey, this is an experience -- and it’s a hell of an experience, cause you’re going through a crazy whirlwind and Harmony’s vision and imagination is crazy and you can see it in this film. And in a way, I like that I can make people feel that. So whether you hate it or whether you love it or whether you laugh, or you think it’s creepy, we made you feel something, and I think that’s really cool. So as far as how I’m gonna see how they react, hopefully it will just be settling and they can think about it.
THR: You mention that reactions have been across the board with this. What’s the most interesting or surprising feedback that you’ve gotten throughout this journey?
SG: I think just the combination. All of ‘em. You know, I’ve had some people that are just like, ‘I died laughing at James’ antics, and what he does, that’s so how those people act,’ or whatever they say. Then I have some people that are like, ‘I’m terrified of him. Were you scared? Was he weird around you?’ It was just cool. I think that’s what I was most excited about, was that it was kind of all over the place. I’ve been in theaters where it’s been completely silent, I’ve been in theaters where they sing along to all the songs that they know -- obviously Britney [Spears] -- and then in theaters where they’re dying laughing. It’s really cool to see because I’ve never seen the reaction like this before, you know. It’s kind of all over the place.
THR: How did you feel about the L.A. reaction? I spoke to Harmony and he said that he felt like the U.S. audience was more comfortable laughing at some of the things. Is that something that you noticed?
SG: Yeah. It’s spring break, and getting thrown into those certain situations, people do laugh at it because I feel like certain people have experienced a spring break, you know, a crazy fun Cabo spring break or whatever where you let loose. So yeah, I think they can understand that a little bit more, as opposed to in Europe, they don’t have spring break. They’re not really familiar with that concept, nor are they familiar with Florida and how that works and having James’ character come in. So it was interesting. I definitely agree with him when it comes to that.
THR: Speaking of James, he’s actually receiving some of the best reviews of his career.
SG: As he should.
THR: Could you tell on set that it was going to be really special for him?
SG: Yeah. It was when I read the script. And I remember I read it and I said, ‘Wait, who’s James playing?’ And they’re [Harmony and Rachel Korine] like, ‘He’s playing Alien.’ I’m like, ‘He’s playing a drug dealer rapper? This is amazing. This is incredible.’ I was like, ‘He’s gonna rap?’ And they’re like, ‘Yeah.’ That was amazing. I thought it was incredible. So I was just excited that he took on a role like this, and he created this character with Harmony for a year, so I love that. I think it’s great. And I’m stoked that he’s getting good reviews, cause he was everything in that movie, I think. He just gave it his all.
THR: This is a fan question from Twitter: What was your favorite part of filming?
SG: I think being able to really push myself. It really was like a big acting camp. You know, I got to improv, that was amazing and probably one of my favorite parts, and I got to create scenes out of thin air and really be indulged in a script that is rare and work with someone like Harmony. So, probably the improv and the experience was my favorite part, just as an actress and as a person.
THR: How collaborative was the experience?
SG: It was really collaborative. It was great. That’s what I loved, being able to be there from the beginning, reading the script, which had very little dialogue, and then running it with the girls and Harmony, and him saying, ‘OK, when we get there, I’m going to throw you in situations and I’m gonna have you speak or talk or sing or look and feel the things around you -- your settings, your surroundings.’ And we were just like, ‘OK, let’s do it.’ So every day we’d come on set and he would see like a lamppost or he’d see a gas station and he’d walk up and he’d be like, ‘Can we film here?’ And they’d say, ‘Yeah.’ And we would just go in, and he’d say, ‘OK, talk about where you’re from.’ And it was great, like we got to really become these characters and that was amazing.
THR: A lot of this movie came together in postproduction with the voice-overs and interspersing of scenes …
SG: Yeah. Harmony had to say that a couple of times, ‘It makes sense when I do it, I promise.’ I was like, ‘OK!’ Cause he’d just have us all say the same line.
THR: At what point did you get a strong feeling for what the movie was going to look and sound and feel like?
SG: I understood what he was going for when it came to the DP [director of photography] as well as with the lighting. We’d go into a scene and Ben Wall would put a red cup over a light and then put on a green piece of paper and it would create a weird color. And then he’d want us to be really close to it or very far from it. And when I see how they’re reacting and how they’re thinking of all the settings and a gum wrapper or something, I know that they’re really trying to make it feel like an experience and a music video in a way. So I knew when we were there and I saw the colors and I saw the settings that it really was gonna be awkwardly and disturbingly beautiful -- if that makes sense.
THR: On Breaking Bad, they use Strawberry Quik for the meth. What did you guys use on set?
SG: The girls had Vitamin B tablets, and that was their cocaine. And for the cigarettes and all the other stuff, it was all just a fake material. It was almost like another herb, and it was so disgusting. Actually two of the girls did get sick over it because you’re doing it over and over, it’s all gross. It’s not even good!
THR: And then there was a lot of beer everywhere.
SG: No, no. Like when Rachel did her big scene that’s intense with all the guys, that was all non-alcoholic beer. But she did get a beer gut from it. She was like, ‘I’m so grossed out right now.’ So no, she would have been probably in the hospital if she really drank that much.
THR: As a musician yourself, I’m curious what you think about the juxtaposition of Cliff Martinez and Skrillex on the soundtrack.
SG: I’m so happy with that. I thought it was brilliant, and that was all working with Harmony and him wanting to create that. Cliff added the suspense and intensity to it, and then Skrillex just brought in the new pop age and really made sense with all of the scenes. And then we have a little Britney in there, a little Nicki Minaj, and it was cool. It made sense in a way, especially with this film. So I think it’s great. My favorite was at the end, though. Cliff Martinez did a Skrillex song, and that was … I was just floored. I was so happy. I was stoked about the music. Every time we see the movie, I’m dancing. People are not doing good things on screen and I’m sitting there dancing. I love the music.
THR: Do you feel as if you’re getting desensitized to it because you have seen the movie so many times?
SG: Yeah, definitely. It doesn’t faze me anymore. It really doesn’t. I’m just like, ‘Woo, awesome!’ But yeah the first couple of times it was kind of hard for me to swallow a little bit, to be honest.
THR: Now, Alex vs. Alex aired last night.
SG: Yes, I saw it, woo hoo!
THR: I read that you had a little bit of trouble getting back into that character. Is that something that you would be open to doing again, or do you think it needs to be put to rest at this point?
SG: I think that was definitely as far as we could go with it. You know, I had already won, I mean, Alex had already won the competition. That’s as far as I think we could take it. But I thought it was perfect, I really did. I loved it. It was so cute, and it was like a little reunion for us.
THR: You’ve said that 2012 was your year of acting and 2013 is your year of music. You have a couple of projects that are in post-production coming out. When are you looking to start getting back into that? I assume that you’re going to do a tour, and the whole album rollout, all that.
SG: Yes. I finished the record, everything’s done. The first single is picked out, and I will start a music video and I’ll hopefully tour! We haven’t figured all that out cause it is still obviously early, but I did finish the record, finished that album packaging and everything, and it’s ready to go.
THR: At what point do you want to start thinking about what your next acting project is?
SG: Probably……… today (Laughs). I’m probably gonna be reading scripts. I mean, I love it. It’s sometimes hard for me to balance it cause I’m obsessed with both. But yeah, I’ll definitely get right back into it as quickly as I can.
E-mail: Sophie.Schillaci@THR.com; Twitter: @SophieSchillaci