Emma Roberts grew up on sets. Not just any old sets either - at first they were those of her aunt (Julia Roberts) and father (Eric Roberts), but soon they were her own (her acting debut came alongside Johnny Depp in 2001's Blow and for the last three years, Emma has starred in Nickelodeon's teen hit Unfabuloous as the lead character, Addie Singer). She recently wrapped production playing the iconic young detective Nancy Drew in the well-loved franchises big screen reboot and sat down with Buzzine's Emmanuel Itier last week to talk about onscreen sleuthing, her emergence as a star in her own right, balancing acting duties with school work, and the possibilities of an on-camera family reunion...
Emmanuel Itier: This is a big week for you - I just saw that you were on the cover both the L.A. Times and Parade Magazine today. How does that feel?
Emma Roberts: It’s so exciting! I couldn’t believe it when I saw it. It was just crazy. I’m just having a really good time doing everything, and it’s just exciting to see everything come together.
EI: What first attracted you to being Nancy Drew?
ER: Nancy Drew is such an iconic character. She’s a really, really great character that’s been around for decades, so I read the script and I instantly just clicked with it and loved the whole character and the whole storyline.
EI: Have you read the books?
ER: I didn’t read them when I was younger, but I read some after I got the part.
EI: Do you compare Nancy Drew to yourself?
ER: We are both alike in some ways. We’re determined, ambitious, and curious, but I think she’s much more of a neat freak than I am.
EI: She’s old-fashioned, obviously, by the way she dresses. What do you think about her clothes?
ER: Personally, I liked going to the set every day and getting to dress up as her. All the clothes were made one-of- a-kind by our costume designer, Jeffrey Curlin, so that was really cool that we were using things that nobody else got to wear and they were just for us.
EI: Did you keep any of the outfits?
ER: No, I don’t know what they did with them. They were all made for the movie.
EI: What was your favorite?
ER: I loved the little pink tweed dress with the knee socks I wore on the first day of school. I thought that was really cute.
EI: Have you ever been made fun of by the girls in school for what you were wearing or anything else? Has anyone been mean to you?
ER: No, luckily. I’ve had great school experiences. When I was shooting the movie, though, I was dressed up as her. We were shooting at a real high school and I think a lot of the kids didn’t know we were shooting there, so I was walking around and a lot of them were looking at me and laughing at me. We were at Hollywood High and I was walking to my trailer, and these girls started pointing and laughing at me and I was just looking at them and I thought it was so rude, and then I turned around and hit my face into one of the trailer doors.
EI: Do you have advice for girls going through a difficult time like that at school? How should they handle it?
ER: I get asked that question a lot! You know, you really can’t do anything about it because you know wherever you go to school, there will always be cliques and there will always be those girls who are mean. People who say there aren’t any cliques at their school are lying because there are cliques everywhere, so you just have to find your group of friends and try not to let it bother you. Don’t feed into it.
EI: You started acting early. What did your friends say or think about it?
ER: They thought it was really cool. I mean, all my friends have been really supportive of me and they came with me to the premiere yesterday, and I have a really good group of friends. I’m really lucky.
EI: Did you watch any of the older Nancy Drew films?
ER: I saw some of the old TV shows that used to be on TV. I watched a few of those on the old movie channel. They seemed to be having a marathon of them, probably because the movie is coming out.
EI: What was the hardest part about playing Nancy?
ER: Probably just getting into the character. It was really fun, but also different than anything I’ve ever done. And you know they cut my hair and dyed it, and I went to the set everyday and the hair and makeup was so much different than I’m used to, and same with the wardrobe. But that is what also made it really fun. I don’t think it’s always fun to play the same character over and over again.
EI: Were the kissing scenes embarrassing?
ER: It was a little embarrassing, but it was okay after the tenth time. Then it’s like the same-old.
EI: Who’s your favorite detective in fiction?
ER: Nancy Drew, honestly. Apart from her, it would be Sherlock Holmes, who’s another cool detective. I think Nancy Drew’s so cool because she really is like…when she first came out in the books, there weren’t a lot of teen girls that independent and that sure of themselves – at least not in movies or books.
EI: What was it like working with Bruce Willis [who has a cameo in the movie]? I‘m sure it was only one or two days…
ER: Yeah, it was fun. I’ve known him before because I know his kids, so it was cool to work with him. It was so random. They said he was going to do a cameo and I thought that was awesome.
EI: How were the driving scenes? Do you have your license?
ER: I don’t have my license, but I have my permit and I did not drive in the movie.
EI: Did you do your own stunts?
ER: No, I had a stunt double.
EI: What car do you want when you get your license?
ER: I don’t know what kind of car I want. I really like Range Rovers, but I’m probably not going to get one. I like the Tourag. I like the Lexus Hybrid. It’s a cool car, and my friend has one.
EI: Nancy Drew loves baked goods. What’s your biggest weakness when it comes to food?
ER: I love dark chocolate. I don’t like vegetables at all, but I love sushi. I’m obsessed with sushi.
EI: Did you go to normal school?
ER: No, I’m home-schooled. I went to normal school up until seventh grade, but eighth, ninth and tenth I’ve been home-schooled.
EI: What do you think is the key to staying grounded?
ER: My friends and my family keep me grounded. None of them treat me differently, now that I’m acting. It’s cool because a lot of my friends are in the business or their families are in the business, so it’s not really “Oh my God” to them, and they understand how busy I am. It’s hard when you are busy and your friends are asking you why you don’t ever hang out.
EI: What do you miss having time for?
ER: My friends. I’m really sad that I’m leaving all summer to go to England. I will miss them.
EI: Do you have slumber parties with your girlfriends?
ER: Yeah, we do that a lot, or we go to other people’s parties. We never really throw parties. We just have our little slumber parties with a bunch of other girls.
EI: What do you do? Watch movies, etcetera?
ER: We watch movies and we go out to dinner–usually it’s sushi.
EI: What movies do you watch?
ER: Whatever is out at the time, we’ll go see or rent it.
EI: What bands are you listening to now?
ER: I really like The Veronicas, I like Taylor Swift, I like Avril Lavigne, Gwen Stefani and Akon.
EI: What do you like to watch on TV?
ER: I love America’s Next Top Model. I love that show, I really do! I’m obsessed with Lost and Grey’s Anatomy. It’s the greatest show. Those are my three favorite shows.
EI: Did you see the season finale of Lost? What do you think is happening?
ER: I don’t even know, but I’m really upset that by the time the next season comes around, I’m going to be 17 and I can’t wait that long. But I love that show. I think it’s one of the best shows on TV.
EI: You mentioned young female actors you’d like to work with. What about younger male actors? Like Orlando Bloom?
ER: I love Orlando Bloom! I really like Shia LeBeouf; he’s a great actor. I’d like to work with him. I think it would be fun to work with a young cast you like, like girls. It’s always fun to work with people your age, like in Nancy Drew. You get to hang out and you all go to school together.
EI: Did you get any tips from Johnny Depp when you played his daughter in Blow?
ER: I was so young when I worked with him. I didn’t even realize, when I worked with him that he’s one of the greatest actors. I thought, yeah, he’s cool, but I was nine or ten so I wasn’t aware. But when Pirates came out, I was like “Oh my God.”
EI: Have you seen him since?
ER: Yeah, I’ve seen him a little but not too much because he’s obviously very, very busy and so am I, but he was definitely a cool guy.
EI: What actors would you like to work with in the future?
ER: I love Drew Barrymore and Angelina Jolie and Reese Witherspoon. She’s really cool. I would love to work with new people in general.
EI: Do you have any future projects coming up?
ER: Yeah, I’m going to England, actually, in a week and a half to start shooting a new movie called Wild Child. It’s totally opposite of Nancy Drew so I’m really excited. It’s for Working Title films. It’s about this out of control Malibu princess who gets shipped off to boarding school in England and she goes through a whole journey. It’s really funny. She gets shipped to boarding school because she doesn’t listen to her dad and she does stuff that she wants to do, when she wants to do it. She’s very sassy. When she gets to boarding school, she doesn’t want to abide by any of the rules so it gets her into some trouble.
EI: Do you think, in the future, you will ever do a film with your aunt?
ER: I think that would be really fun. I think it would be really cool to do that. I like when you see families work together. It’s cute.
EI: How involved is your dad in your acting career?
ER: He’s not really involved. Mostly, it’s my manager and my mom, but I get to really decide if I like something. I mean, nobody is going to make me do something I don’t want to do, so that’s really good.
EI: Is there something you really don’t want to do?
ER: I’m open to doing whatever. I want to play a bunch of different roles, and I’m not going to say I won’t do this, because I try to keep an open mind and see what comes to me.
EI: You mentioned friends in the industry. Do you try to do projects with your friends?
ER: I haven’t really, but obviously it would be really fun. You make friends with people you work with. In Aquamarine, Sara and JoJo became friends of mine. I see Sara all the time. I ran into Jo-Jo here yesterday. It was really weird. She was walking out and I was walking in. It’s fun to make friends at work.
EI: Is it easier when your friends are famous, like Jo-Jo, for them to understand what you are going through?
ER: Yeah, it is. I don’t just choose friends who are in the business or aren’t in the business, but it’s a little bit easier when they are because, when you’re busy, they really do understand, because some of my friends think I’m blowing them off, but I’m like, no I’m just really, really busy. Both is good.
EI: Has being the lead in Nancy Drew opened a lot more doors?
ER: Yeah, I think so. When any actor does a movie where it’s mostly about them, I think more people want to meet with them and see what’s going on, and a lot of people are liking the movie, which is good to hear, and it will bring me more scripts, I guess.
EI: Would you be interested in doing a sequel to Nancy Drew?
ER: Yeah, I think it would be so much fun to get to play her all over again and have a new set of cute clothes and a new mystery to solve.
'Nancy Drew' opens in theaters nationwide from June 15, 2007