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November 2009 Archives

Celeb Scoop: James Maslow
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jamesmaslow1.jpgLife is about to change for 19-year-old James Maslow, one of the stars of Nickelodeon's new series "Big Time Rush." James is no overnight success, however; he's been working hard at music, acting, and dancing ever since elementary school. Now TV audiences will be able to enjoy his many talents, but we have a feeling he won't let it go to his head. James has a sweet, smart approach to his life and his work that we found really inspiring (and crushable) when we recently spoke to him.

"Big Time Rush" previews on Nickelodeon this Saturday night, November 28th, at 8:30pm (and again on Sunday at 12 noon).

IML: First of all, tell us about "Big Time Rush." It looks really cool!

James: It's about four friends who grew up in Minnesota and were hockey players. My character, James Diamond, always wanted to be a pop star. He's a lovable narcissist, if you will. He follows trends and is very fashionable. This "American Idol" type competition comes to our town and we hear about it at the last second. They end up picking my buddy but he says he won't go without the rest of us, and the four of us go to Los Angeles to become a music group. They're trying to turn us into this terrible 80's/90's boy band but we don't want to do that. Instead, we become this funny "anti-boy band" as sort of exaggerated versions of ourselves. I think it shows how normal kids can go off and do something extraordinary.

IML: We're assuming that the "lovable narcissist" part is one of the ways you and your character are different! How else are you different, and how are you similar?

James: Well, we're similar in that if we have to go to an event, we'll both get dressed up. But James Diamond is ALWAYS dressed up, always has his hair done and looking good and trying to impress people. Whereas my favorite outfit is a tank and some running pants or jeans. I pretty much wear whatever's clean that day! I'm just a little more laid back about things. We're both very driven, however. James Diamond is incredibly driven by this urge to be famous and be a pop star, to get his name out. I'm far more driven by the idea that I can do what I love, and if I work hard and do a good job, hopefully I'll get to do this for the rest of my life. So his goal is fame, while my goal is to be as good as I can possibly be at something I love.

IML: What are your fellow cast members like? Do you get along?

James: They're terrible people! I can't stand them! Ha ha ha. Honestly, they're just great. It's a dream come true to be working with people that I actually get along with. Logan and I have known each other for two years now, since we first auditioned, and Carlos came in during the third screen test. The last member, Kendall, just came during the last few months but already he's absolutely clicked. We've become like brothers onscreen and off. Onscreen we're best friends and offscreen we really can rely on one another. We're shooting single camera, which means 12, 14, 16 hour days and we're recording the album. It's so nice to have guys there who are in the exact same boat. We all just want to do a great job. And they're so talented.

IML: Have you watched past shows like "The Monkees" to get inspiration?

James: Funny you should ask that! With our show, the creator looked at "The Monkees" and in some ways we are a new age version. Because although we were created for the show, in real life we are becoming a band. There are a couple of episodes where we do little goofs on The Monkees. We all goof around just like they did. Some of it comes up in little gags in the show. I don't think we're trying to recreate it in any way, but the mentality is there. They did such a good job and they're so fun to watch. They all just enjoyed each other's company. It's fun to watch them being best friends. I've definitely gone back and watched some of those episodes. To be compared to them would be an honor!

IML: It sounds like the show has a lot of positive messages.

James: Yes, I think every character puts out a good message. James Diamond, for example. He really, really wants to be famous and wants to be a pop star. He does focus on himself, but in the end he doesn't do that to the detriment of his friends. It's always "friends first." Kendall is a great example as well. He doesn't want to go and do this on his own without the rest of us. And that's a larger theme -- that each one of us would not go far without the others. That's a great message: hold strong to your friends, and stay positive about what you're doing. And continue to be caring. I think the second you become selfish, things may work out for you initially but in the long run, I don't think people are ultimately happy when they're by themselves.

IML: You've been singing for a long time. You joined the San Diego Children's Choir when you were little, right?

James: I was 5 or 6 years old. That's one thing I will accredit to my mom. Because I didn't even KNOW I was joining the choir...I was just kind of signed up! Someone happened to drop me off at a rehearsal I didn't know about! And I hated it for the first 2 weeks. Then something clicked and I just fell in love with singing. I'd always sung before that, like in the shower or around the house, but to realize I could actually do this and make a sound, and sing with other amazing people who could contribute to that enormous sound. It was really cool, and really got me started in everything because that led to opera and musical theatre and then film and television.

IML: That experience of being part of something larger than yourself -- what did that add to your life as you were growing up?

jamesmaslow2.jpgJames: It's interesting, because I grew up playing sports. I don't know if most of my friends knew that I sang, because it was kind of two different worlds. But I was always friends with everybody. It taught me that other people had their own unique interests, whether it was drawing, cooking, etc. That's their thing and that's cool, and you have to learn to respect that. I started to realize how much I loved singing and how good that made me feel, maybe because it was something unique to me and I found something I loved. You have to respect and honor how people feel about what they do. And singing in a group like a choir... The sound that we could create as a group can move people so much more than just one voice.

IML: Then later, you started to do more musical theatre. What was your favorite role?

James: I was in Les Miz ["Les Miserables"] and I got to play Marius. That was probably the most influential role I had in musical theatre, as a transition to film and television, because I was just so emotionally connected to that character. During the months I spent rehearsing, I found things in my voice singing a song that I'd never found before. Back then it was like a discovery and so exciting. It was also the first time I ever watched myself back on tape. I remember thinking, "That's really cool. If I could ever combine this with film and TV it would be a dream come true." And guess what -- I'm living that dream come true!

IML: Why do you think it's important for young people to participate in the arts, even if they don't think they have any talent?

James: You know, I think it's silly when people say they don't have any talent. I think all that means is that they haven't discovered it yet, or they ignore things they just don't realize they're good at. Even at a performing arts school where there are so many talented kids, there are still those kids who say, "Oh, I do art because I can't sing," and then you hear them humming later and you think, they have a miraculous voice! The arts bring out confidence in people. In general, people in the arts are so open and so loving and caring, it's such a welcoming environment. There's something about everyone doing this because they love it, and they love to be around other people who love it. And for kids who are afraid to jump into that drama class or whatever -- I played sports too. There doesn't have to be a separation. Just do what you want to do and have fun. Chances are, you're better at it than you think.

IML: You're a songwriter too. What inspires you to write a song?

James: You know, there are some songs that take a long time. One of the first completely finished songs I wrote, it took about a year and a half to finish because I was focusing on one thing...One person, actually. And so, people in my life, whether it's relationships or family, will inspire me to write something. Then, recently I was sitting down at a piano with a friend of mine and we started playing a tune, and starting thinking about something, and we came up with this song idea on the spot and it just felt right. And I consider that song to be just as good as the one that took a year and a half! Because it was fun and uplifting compared to that year-and-a-half long ballad. Like a lot of people, my surroundings and the people that surround me drive my songs. I think most of my songs are based on an emotion and in every song I write, there's at least a partial truth.

IML: Is there a charity or a certain cause you're passionate about? If you become a big star, you might be in a position to really make a difference somewhere.

James: There are so many amazing charities out there, it would be tough to single out a few. But something that I've always been very passionate about is health in this country. I was originally going to be a personal trainer before this career took over. I've always been very active; I grew up doing martial arts and climbing. I have so much fun doing that stuff, and I try to do something active every day like a hike or run. I'd love to help get that message across to kids that you can absolutely go out and be active, be healthy. It's so easy. I'd love to open up sessions at a Boys and Girls Club or something where kids can learn nutrition and how to exercise in a fun way. Especially for young guys. I'd love to be an inspiration.

IML: You just mentioned that you're involved in a lot of outdoor activities. What do these add to your life and how do they fit into your music and your acting?

James: It's absolutely my biggest stress relief. Sometimes I'm literally going and boxing for an hour. Sometimes it's just a preventative measure. Being healthy -- that means there's one less thing I have to worry about. Actually I was a little bit of a chunky kid myself so maybe that's part of it. I don't want to deal with that again. These days it gives me a bit of an edge. When we go do these long hours on the show, I tend to get tired less quickly than other people. I tend to stay healthy because I've been eating right and exercising. It makes life so much easier when you're healthy. I also like to challenge myself by making my own physical goals and beating them.

IML: So we love to ask this question. Most of our readers are in middle school. What were you like back then?

James: I was a chunky kid, but I didn't let it get me down. I loved to be active but I didn't think about it as much. A lot of people say they were stuck in cliques in middle school, but I was never like that. I was friends with all different people and all different groups. And that led me to being friends with a few people who didn't even go to my school. Now I have the most amazing collection of friends of all ethnic backgrounds and upbringing and financial backgrounds. I learned that you find the best people when you hang out with people from every single group and area. I went to a lot of different schools and jumped around, so I was able to do that. I know some kids make it very hard to break out and do your own thing, but that sort of goes back to the arts thing we were talking about. Break away and do what you want to do!

IML: Well, you've certainly done that! We can't wait to see the show, and we wish you all good things to come. It sounds like you deserve it!

James: Thank you!

Celeb Scoop: Taylor Lautner
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You can't help but love Taylor Lautner, the 17-year-old co-star of "The Twilight Saga: New Moon." Taylor spent months beefing up for his role as the werewolf Jacob, eating meat patties all day long and working out five days a week. He gained 30 pounds for the part! In an interview with IML, Jacob talks about his transformation, his adjustment to becoming a teen idol, and the challenges of staying true to himself through it all.

IML: Do you think you were ever in danger of not getting the role of Jacob in this movie?

Taylor: Honestly, I knew where my character went in "New Moon" and that's all I tried to stay focused on. I couldn't control things outside. I couldn't control the media. But I could control what I was doing. So that's what I stayed focused on the whole entire time.

Did that start with going to the gym and gaining 30 pounds to make the physical transformation necessary to play Jacob?

Yeah. Jacob transforms a lot in "New Moon." Not only physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. So it was a matter of getting to the gym, eating the right foods and a lot of it. But also reading and studying the book and my character over and over and over again so I could have this character down as well. Because he changes in many, many ways.

IML: Can you talk about those changes?

Taylor: Well, when he transforms basically my job was to continue what I started in "Twilight," which was this extremely happy, friendly, outgoing guy, best friends with Bella. And I had to continue that for the first half of the film. But as soon as I transformed, I snapped and I became a completely different person. I'm dealing with my issues and it's just really hard for me.

IML: You certainly have a lot of opportunities to show off your body. Our favorite was when you take off your shirt to dab blood off Bella's head.

Taylor: I start laughing so hard every time I see that scene. Oh, look, you're bleeding? Let me fix that. [He mimes removing his shirt.] How embarrassing. Here's the thing: there's a reason he's not wearing clothes all the time. One, when he transforms, all his clothes get shredded. He can't help it. And when he goes into the woods to get something to put on so he's not naked, it's just a ripped pair of jean shorts. He's also hot. His body temperature is 108 degrees. So that's another reason. And the thing is, I love this character and I love this story and putting on the weight and not wearing much clothing was required by the role. A year from now, if I love a story and I love a character that requires me to lose 40 pounds I'm ready to do it.

IML: Could you be more specific about your regimen? What did you eat? How much did you exercise?

Taylor: I was in the gym about five days a week because it's important to get your recovery time. Not over working yourself.  I was trying to put on weight. And if I were in the gym too much I'd be burning the calories I was trying to take in. The most important thing was the eating side. Everybody thought it was actually getting in the gym. That was easy. I was motivated. The eating was pretty hard. We found that I had to consume at least 3200 calories a day just to maintain. I'm not trying to maintain, I'm trying to gain. I had to eat more than that and putting something in your mouth every two hours. And I'm busy. I'm going from meeting to meeting so there's not time for me to be eating. So I would literally have to carry a little baggy full of beef patties, raw almonds, and sweet potatoes.  So it's not like every two hours I was eating ice cream. It was difficult.

IML: Can you talk about the stunt work and wire work you had to do?

Taylor: The physical side was really fun. Some of it was challenging. I'd never ridden a dirt bike before. And yes, I rode the dirt bike for a total of five seconds in the film, but for those five seconds I had to look at cool as possible. So it did require a lot of practice for safety purposes so they would let me do it. And the wire work when I run up the side of Bella's house and that whole thing? The wires were there just so if I slipped and fell, I didn't face plant into the ground. But it was definitely challenging. That stunt was really complicated. You need to be on. I'm using a little plug in the side of the wall just to take off from and jump. So it's really complicated. And it required a lot of practice. Every single weekend, I would practice that stunt for three hours a day. It was the last thing we filmed.

IML: We were wondering about wearing the wig, and then removing it for the second half of the film. Was that freeing?

Taylor: It was not only uncomfortable. I'd look at myself in the mirror and I wouldn't be able to recognize myself! It was very itchy and hot. Annoying. Also it slowed down the filming process, whenever it got caught in my eye or whatever, we'd have to cut and start over.  It would get caught in my mouth and I'm spitting hair. I'm coming this close to kissing Bella and I've got to stop and spit my hair out! My last day filming with the wig, we ripped it off, held it up in the air and said "That's a picture wrap on Taylor's wig." And the whole crew gave it a standing ovation. It was amazing.

IML: Can you talk about the bonding with the other werewolves?

Taylor: Bonding with the werewolves was very fun. Those guys are characters! They're fun guys and what's so great is they each fit their characters so perfectly. They made the set so exciting.

IML: They were talking about possibly getting a wolf pack tattoo. Are you in?

Taylor: I don't know. I'll have to think about that. I'll have to discuss it with my pack.

IML: The media definitely seems to love you. What's the funniest or strangest thing that's ever been written about you?

Taylor: I try and stay away from what's been written about me because if you let that stuff get to you and it's not true, it can drive you crazy. One thing that I have heard recently which is not true - I didn't say it - was that I was quoted saying I will never take my shirt off for a movie again. I didn't say that. If the character requires it, I will. That was interesting to see.

IML: How do you balance letting the public and fans know who you really are but also trying to keep your private life private?

Taylor: It's definitely important to stay true to yourself, to stay close to those people you were close to before, your family, your friends. And just not let that outside stuff get to you.

IML: This movie is going to make you a bigger star. Already there are young girls who idolize you. How did you prepare yourself for that?

Thumbnail image for bella_jacob2.jpg

Taylor: I don't think there's any way to prepare you for this phenomenon.  None of us expect it. When we were filming "Twilight," we didn't expect anything. We were just filming a movie that we wanted the fans to enjoy and then it just blew into this whole other world. But you could definitely say I felt a little pressure trying to bring Jacob the character and Jacob and Bella's relationship alive for the fans. "New Moon" definitely develops their relationship. And it sets up the love triangle. So it's a very important story.

IML: What's it like for you to have your face on the billboards and on the sides of buses. Is that weird for you?

Taylor: Yeah! Of course. I don't think there's a way to ever get used to it. It's not normal to drive down the street and see your face up there. But it's "Twilight." It comes with the job.

IML: There's practically an international countdown for your 18th birthday. Have you even thought about making any plans for that day?

Taylor: I haven't even begun. We are so busy. We take one day at a time. I don't even know what room in this hotel I'm going to after this!

IML: What is a touching and really sweet fan encounter you can tell us about?

Taylor: We have fans all the time that just burst into tears. It's just moving. It must mean so much for them to meet us. It's an amazing feeling that we can touch somebody in that way. You don't know what to do. It's hard. You feel bad for them, but you're also happy at the same time.

IML: When would it help in your real life to turn into a werewolf?

Taylor: When you're in school getting picked on by some bullies. When you're in a fight with your little sister? That's a good question. It would get really, really ugly!

IML: Can you talk about working and living in Canada?

Taylor: Canada's great. I spent a while there. Six months this year. The first time it was really rainy and dark and cloudy and snowing. And that was difficult weather. But this last time it was beautiful, filming "Eclipse." So I'm really going to miss it a lot.

IML: Can you tell us more about "Eclipse?"

Taylor: "Eclipse" was my favorite book so I was really excited to start filming this one. I just love that it's the height of the love triangle. "Twilight" develops Edward and Bella's relationship. "New Moon" develops Jacob and Bella's relationship. And in "Eclipse," the three of them are physically together. It has one of my favorite scenes ever in that movie.  The tent scene. Edward is forced to let me sleep in the same sleeping bag with Bella just so she doesn't die because she's shivering to death. And I'm warm. And I'm the only thing at that moment that can keep her alive. It's a funny scene. There's a lot of ribbing that goes on between Jacob and Edward and it's going to be a really good movie. And visually stunning. David Slade is incredible visually.

IML: In this movie when you have to show up naked in the rainy forest. How challenging was it to resist shivering?

Taylor: The challenging thing was Jacob was supposed to be extremely hot. He's not supposed to feel cold at all. And the worst scene for that was the rain scene, the breakup scene where Bella first sees Jacob after his transformation. We're standing on that little hill right behind Jacob's house. It's 35 degrees and pouring rain on top of us. And we filmed that same scene all day long. It was really, really rough. As soon as we'd call cut we'd run over to a heater and wrap ourselves in blankets. So the weather was definitely extremely challenging. I just had to take myself to another world so during the scene I wasn't sitting there shivering. It was hard.

IML: What did you think of your computer generated wolf the first time you saw him?

Taylor: I was blown away. I was really excited. Because when I'm filming I'm attached to wires and I'm running and I just let the wires pull me up in the air and jerk me to a stop and I just have to freeze there and let them convert my body into a computer generated wolf. And the whole time I'm like, "I wonder if I look cool." After I saw the final version last week, it was amazing. I thought they were extremely powerful.

As your teenage years are coming to a close, how do you relish this time in your life?

Taylor: I'm having the time of my life. It couldn't be a better end to my teenage years. I'm doing what I love. And I'm spending time with the people I love. It's great. I'm definitely never ever going to forget this.

Check out our interviews with Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson!


Continue reading Celeb Scoop: Taylor Lautner.
Celeb Scoop: Robert Pattinson
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edward.jpgRobert Pattinson...insert dreamy sigh here. Just a few years ago, Rob (as his friends call him) was an unknown actor struggling to find movie roles. Then he was cast in the film "Twilight" as Edward, the gorgeous and romantic vampire in love with a regular teenage girl. Now he's so famous he can't even ride an elevator without a bodyguard! IML caught up with Rob recently and talked with him about his feelings about being a heartthrob to millions, the personality traits he shares with Edward, and the most romantic thing he's ever done.

IML: What's this last year been like for you? The "Twilight" thing exploded into this phenomenon. How are you dealing with it? Are you more comfortable with it now?

Robert: I guess it's inevitable that you become more comfortable. You still fight against some things. The film series itself, there's nothing really scary about it. I like the people I work with. I generally have very few disagreements about the script, especially on "New Moon."  It just seemed so relaxed and easy. I've been on three different sets since January 14. I got like three days off. And I'm going to be on set all next year and I don't know what that really is like. I still feel like I'm pretty much exactly the same. Which I guess maybe isn't a good thing!

IML: Can you talk about the big scene where you break up with Bella?

Robert: What really helped was people's anticipation of the movie. Fans of the series have an idea of Bella and Edward's relationship and what it represents. Some kind of an ideal of a relationship. So when playing the scene where you're breaking up the ideal relationship, I felt a lot of the weight behind that. And it took away my fear of melodrama as well because it felt kind of seismic. It was very much like stepping out into the sunlight at the end. You could really feel the audience watching as you're doing it. So yeah, it was a strange one to do.

IML: What personality traits do you share with Edward?

Robert: Stubbornness in some ways. He's pretty self-righteous. I guess I can be quite obsessive about things, and possessive as well.

IML: Like what? Your privacy?

Robert: In some ways. I have very, very specific ideas about how I want to do my work. And how I want to be perceived. And to the point of ridiculousness sometimes. I don't listen to anyone else. That's why I don't have a publicist or anything. I can't stand it when someone's trying to tell me to do something. Which is maybe a mistake sometimes. I like being meticulous. And it's quite difficult as an actor to have that much control.

IML: Do you appreciate Edward more with each movie? What are your favorite parts about him?

Robert: When I read "New Moon" it was the book that I connected to the most and the one that humanizes Edward for me the most as well. In the first one, he does remain from beginning to end an idealistic character. But in the second one he makes a mistake that is acknowledged by everybody, including himself. Also he's totally undermined by more powerful creatures. And he's undermined emotionally by people as well.  And I think that's what humanized it. Since I read that book, I've always kind of liked him as a character. And I've tried to play that same feeling throughout the first one and the third one as well. Trying to get some kind of elements as an all-powerful person, the kind of hero of the story who just refuses to accept he's the hero. I think that's somewhat admirable.

IML: What's going through your head when you're filming romantic scenes?

Thumbnail image for bella_edward1.jpgRobert: You always hear all this stuff pumping up the action of a film so the guys will see it. That's ridiculous. That's like saying guys can't appreciate anything romantic. I watched "Titanic" and I didn't think, "Oh this is a girl's film." Especially in the whole series, I've never played it thinking, "Oh, I'm in a series of girls' films" or doing something just for girls. I don't feel like I'm doing a kind of animated Tiger Beat! I felt like a lot of the story line in "New Moon" is very heartbreaking and true. I didn't think I was doing something just for the sake of romance.

IML: Are you a romantic person? What's the most romantic thing you've done in your life?

Robert: I put a flower in a girl's locker when I was 14 years old. She actually thought it was somebody else. And the other guy claimed it as well!

IML: What were your thoughts filming the scene in Italy where you reveal yourself in the sunlight?

Robert: I came to a realization about that scene today. It was one of the closest moments I've really felt to people's emotional attachment to the character. There were so many extras there that were "Twilight" fans that had come in to be in the town square. And taking the one step into the light. It's been the one moment since the first Comicon where I've felt the whole weight of anticipation and I guess the responsibility as well.  It was very nerve-wracking. I felt the most in character I've probably felt in the whole series in that moment.

IML: Appearing only through part of this movie in various visions, did you wish you were in it more?

Robert: Those things are the hardest. When I saw the first cut of the movie, we changed them a bit in the edit. It's not Edward. It's kind of a manifestation of Bella's loneliness and desperation. It was difficult. I was trying to ask Kristen, how would you play it? Because it's her opinion. The actor being alone - I think I've always felt a little bit aloof as the character throughout the whole series. I think that's how he kind of is.

IML: No holds barred fight between Edward and Jacob, who wins? And the same with you and Taylor.

Robert: I'd heard that Taylor had agreed to an interview where the interviewer was going to fight him. I don't think I would ever agree to that. And looking at Taylor's martial arts videos when he was like 9, I mean I wouldn't really want to - maybe if I had some kind of weapon! Edward and Jacob. I don't know. I think it's actually fact that Edward would win, if I read the book correctly.

IML: You said you haven't noticed how things have changed because you've been so busy. But one thing that it's done has made you a bankable leading man. How has that change career-wise been for you and where do you want to be five years from now?

Robert: I've only done one movie outside the series, called "Remember Me." But even that I did with the same studio. I'm still a little bit blind of what my actual economic viability is outside the series. It's definitely different. You get offered stuff you never dreamed of getting offered before. But that's scary as well. You really have to question yourself a lot more. Before "Twilight," I did any movie that I got and tried to make the make the best of it afterwards. But now, you're expected to come into the movie and provide not only economic viability but a performance as well because people are like, "You can't just mess around. We're employing you to be a star and an actor." It's difficult and scary.

IML: Isn't that what you dream about when you start in the business?

Robert: You do. When you haven't got a big movie behind you and you're not bankable, then everyone says you're not bankable enough. Then you can't get the roles. And then when you do, you have to - especially with a movie like this, where there's a perceived specific audience, which I think people are quite confused about - people start thinking "You need to get in this audience. You need to do this and that. You need to look a certain way. And blah blah blah." And so there are some limitations to it as well. Whereas when no one's watching your movies and you get a part, you do whatever the heck you want. That's just the way it is.

IML: Love plays such a major role in these films and so many fans want what happens on the screen to happen in real life. How do you separate falling in love in real life with the actresses you're cast against?

Robert: You've always got to remember that you're being paid. There are a lot of connotations that come with that. I think that's one of the major separations.

IML: How do you keep your life from becoming one big blur?

Robert: There are little random moments that stand out. Generally, this year, I've been working so much that I'm kind of living in an almost alternate reality. You're like working doctor hours. And every doctor I've ever spoken to has said the same thing. You have no idea what's going on other than working.  And it's especially hard being away from family and friends.

IML: Has there been something that has made you laugh at all?

Robert: Recently I've had less direct interaction with people because there's more security on sets. There was a woman who came up to me the other day who must have been in her 90's. It was very unusual. And she said exactly the same things as 12-year-old girls do. That was kind of bizarre!

IML: What's the weirdest or funniest thing you're read about yourself?

Robert: Recently some magazine had on the cover that I was pregnant. Without a hint of irony! I don't really know what to make of that.

We have Twilight fever over here; don't miss our interviews with Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner!

Continue reading Celeb Scoop: Robert Pattinson.
Celeb Scoop: Kristen Stewart (OMG!)
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bella_jacob_edward.jpgYou all know her: Kristen Stewart, the 19-year-old star of the phenomenally successful "Twilight" movie series. In the upcoming film "The Twilight Saga: New Moon," she plays a heartbroken Bella, torn between her love for vampire Edward and werewolf Jacob. For the last few weeks, Kristen's been simultaneously filming the third film of the series "Eclipse" and skipping around the world promoting "New Moon." She took time recently to talk to IML about her experiences as Bella and the other ups and downs of being a superstar.

IML: How have you changed in the last year since "Twilight" came out? It seems like it's a non-stop thing with something every week on "New Moon" and on you and Rob. What's it been like from your side?

Kristen: I think I've gotten a lot more comfortable with talking about myself and knowing that what you say, people are really going to take into consideration. And that always intimidated me so much that I couldn't finish a sentence because I was so concerned with how it would sound. I didn't want to come across as insincere about something I really loved to do. And so I realized instead of refraining from saying, 'I put my heart and soul into this thing and I love it.' That's what I should have said instead of the really logical, over-analytical reason why I love it. So I've gotten more comfortable with it.

And the whole rumor, tabloid stuff, it's so obviously false to me, even before I became a part of it. It's like a show. A ridiculous show. Like false realism. Like a soap opera that seems real but you're not quite sure? It doesn't bother me. I don't take it personally. Luckily, because I've had so much experience, it's gotten easier to talk about the work.

IML: So tell us about the work, on "New Moon."

Kristen: I had a really good time on this movie. It was really intense. Just because of the nature of the story. It goes in a completely different direction. We undermine the first. We establish a very ideological idea of love [in "Twilight"] and basically, [in "New Moon"] we tell our main protagonist she was wrong. And where is our story going to be left if Edward's not there? What I really love about the movie is you see this girl really build herself back up and by the time she makes this sort of rash decision to spend eternity with a vampire, she's in a position that you actually believe.

IML: How did you work with Chris Weitz, the movie's director?

Kristen: Chris has everything. I think to be the director you have to be a good person and you have to care about people. And I don't know a more compassionate human being. I couldn't have done this unless I had a believable environment and a comfortable safe environment to be so vulnerable in. And he provided that ten fold. He's one of the smartest, funniest guys I know. And he really loves the project as well. He only helped make everything better. He's incredible. I love him!

IML: We heard that he came in and gave the cast "guidebooks." What were they and how did that help you?

Kristen: Chris did a very different thing that I've never had a director do. He put together like a syllabus almost of what we were supposed to achieve and how he was going to make it easier for everyone. Sort of like an introduction of how he likes to work. It didn't only introduce the idea of collaboration. It was inviting everyone onto this project and saying "Please, everyone love it." And "Please everyone be invested. Work hard." It also had technical aspects of how he was so sorry that so much of the movie was going to be [computer generated] stuff that we have to react to. That he was always going to make us aware of what we were acting with and he was never going to leave us high and dry. A lot of effects movies are hard to do because you don't know what you're reacting to. So it was like a full run-down of how he planned on making the movie. 

IML: Can you talk about working with Taylor Lautner? There was some controversy going into the movie about who was going to play Jacob.

Thumbnail image for bella_jacob1.jpgKristen: I think that controversy has probably been made bigger than it was. We needed to be sure that whoever played Jacob was going to be Jacob in "New Moon." He's such a different person. He becomes a man. It's not just a physical transformation. He becomes an adult.  And I always knew that Taylor could do that. We just needed to be sure because it was so important. Once he actually proved himself, which wasn't hard to do, even seeing him walk around on set was like a different experience. He literally becomes a different person. He's grown up. He's so confident and like the nicest guy I've ever met. And I know I'm using this grammatically incorrectly, but he's also the funnest guy I've ever been with. I'm so proud of him!

IML: The filming of these movies has gone so fast. Can you talk about the intensity of that? Do you think you're going to remember any of it in five years?

Kristen: There's already a lot of stuff where I have to say, "Okay, just be here." Like, make sure this isn't just another like fleeting situation. You have to force yourself to be present. I feel like I have the opportunity to pick and choose moments that I want to remember and I have to focus on remembering cool moments. That only tells you that I literally have an influx of them. So I've had the coolest year.

IML: What has it been like to work in Vancouver? Is it like home? Do you have favorite hangouts?

Kristen: I love Vancouver. When we're doing the Twilight series there, I don't get to go out as much as I'd like to. I'm also sort of a boring person. I don't go out to bars and stuff a lot unless it's like an event. It's a beautiful place to be. I just like being outside there.

IML: Did you actually get to ride the motorcycle in the film? If so, were you into it?

Kristen: I'm definitely never going to be a biker. The idea of riding. I mean, I'm scared of cars! The idea of riding motorcycles is just never going to be something that I'm into. I was towed ridiculously. I was like on the back of this truck. I probably looked funny doing it. Taylor rode motorcycles really well. This one part that is sort of undeniably him, he sort of rides up and skids. I wasn't about to do that. I don't think they would let me necessarily. They have more faith in Taylor to do that kind of stuff.

IML: Would you ride on the back hanging on to a guy though?

Kristen: Yeah, I did that, I did that. And I didn't like it! It's like so precarious. I don't know if you've been on one. It literally feels like you're going to fly off of it. I'm not into that.

IML: How did the filming in Italy add to the romance of your character?

Kristen: The fact that we didn't have to be on a set and we were really in Italy made it so much easier. It was so cool that we got to go to Italy and we didn't have to fake it.  I think it really did add, like - I'm totally stealing Chris' words - "a scope" to the film that wouldn't otherwise be there. To go from Forks to Italy is such a stark contrast and romantic just in the idea and so then to actually be there of course it only helps to have it.

IML: Can you talk about the breakup scene with Edward and how emotional it was to do that?

Kristen: That was the scariest thing. I was almost as worried about messing it up than I was about what I actually showed her thinking about, which was the issue that Bella's dealing with. Reading that moment in the book, there's nothing like it in reality. It's not even like a normal break up scene because I know what it's like to get broken up with. But I don't know what it's like to get broken up with by a vampire I've now been physically and chemically altered by. It's like suddenly you take an addict and take whatever they're addicted to away from them. There's this withdrawal. That was the most intimidating scene in the entire movie. I was so alone. I had no other actors to play off. The breakup scene that I did with Rob, that's not what I was intimidated by. That was still like she doesn't even believe it yet. It's when he goes. It was the absence of him that I was scared of. How am I - by myself in the woods with a 100 guys standing around filming me - going to die, or literally have the equivalent of like a death scene but stay alive and get up and keep walking. It was hard. It was really intimidating. I still don't know - I mean, I've seen the movie. I really like the movie. But I don't know if anybody really would be able to bring that to life the way Stephenie Meyer writes it.

IML: Other than that, were there any other challenging scenes or moments for you?

Kristen: Yeah. Bella's so sure all the time, but this is the one movie where she actually is baffled and totally like "I don't know." It's weird to play Bella like that because she's so not like that. It was really hard to go back and forth because you don't shoot a movie in sequence, obviously. I had to do some with Jacob where I was alive and happy and out of this depression thing. And after lunch go back and scream in my bed for six hours. That was difficult!

IML: Being a celebrity today is so much crazier than it was even five or ten years ago. You guys have such an avid fan base. How do you draw the line between what the fans want to know and your private life?

Kristen: I don't know. As soon as I stopped trying to control everything that came out of my mouth and every picture that came out, that's when I became so much happier, so much easier to deal with. It wasn't like a turning point. I've just grown into not being able to care as much and not try to think that I'm going to be able to plan out the way everybody perceives me. There are no false impressions. Everybody's impression of you is always going to be what it is in that isolated moment. It's people not considering where you are in that moment when you give that impression [that is frustrating]. I'm going to own what I'm going to own. I'm always going to keep what's important to me, mine.

IML: What's been the craziest moment with fans so far?

Kristen: I've had a lot of really varying experiences. Some absolutely touching and like overwhelming and daunting.  And some just like crazy. And then sometimes they're really funny. Once, I was in Brazil. Taylor and I went this time and Rob was in Japan and that's just how it goes. We get sent all over. It means nothing who we're with. And this guy was chasing after us. There was this huge crowd anyway. But this one very persistent fellow was like, "Where is Hobart? Where is Hobart?" And I couldn't stop laughing. And I felt bad because he was like distraught and emotional. And I was like, "It's 'Robert'!" It was really funny. But sometimes you get letters and they're sort of reassuring you know, when everybody's saying one thing about you. It's funny when you can actually relate to the fans on a human level. It happens all the time. People assume that that's like impossible.

IML: How do you take the fact that people take you and Robert to be together in real life?

Kristen: I totally understand why people have a hard time separating us from our characters. Also it's just where the world is going. People are obsessed. There's an incredibly large group of people who spend most of their time considering other people's lives. It's strange to me. I can't have anything to do with it or else I step in and mess it up for myself. And I can't even do it in a way that is complete. So I just let it fall by the wayside. It doesn't really affect me.

IML: How attached have you become to Bella in filming all these movies?

Kristen: I'm very protective of her. I feel a shared ownership. It's weird. If you were to talk about the character in a way that was at all not thought out or flippant, I would be right there to say you don't know what you're talking about. I'm very defensive of her!

IML: Do you see her as a good example for young women?

Kristen: I think that Bella's such a good character for girls to look up to. Not to look up to. You're not looking up. The fact that she's normal. And - I think the most typically relatable thing is that she's awesome and she doesn't know it. And she's very confident but also not arrogant. It's a weird thing to be. I think that it's awesome that so many girls can look up to her because she's fickle and unabashedly so. It's like I'm allowed to make mistakes. And I'm going to do it. And I'm going to do it right now! Yes, I think she is a good example for a young girl.

IML: But she seems to be willing to sacrifice everything for Edward and when she goes into a post-breakup depression, she becomes this adrenaline junkie who's trying to kill herself. Are you worried about younger teens who are watching?

Kristen: It's a very extreme story. I think the people who take to this story need to be a little bit more mature than that. And I think the only reason they take to it is because they are. The only way I can justify that - and maybe I'm an immature girl as well - I really feel like if you feel like you need to do it, you need to do it. 'It' being anything. And then after you're told that you've made a mistake and you're wrong, if you're willing to say 'I was wrong' and 'I'm going to try the next thing,' there's nothing to be ashamed of there at all. Be extreme. Go for it. I think that's the point. I know this is a movie about immortality and mortality but you live once. I'm not preaching to anybody, I'm just trying to justify the story.

IML: Can you tell us any moments that really stand out about making the next movie, "Eclipse"?

Kristen: Just like "New Moon" sort of starts and becomes a completely different movie, so does "Eclipse." Just as soon as you think you're going to get the same story it all of a sudden completely changes. Bella is back to herself. She's content now. She's again comfortable and self-assured in a way that she wasn't in "New Moon." What was interesting for me to explore in "Eclipse" was different levels of love. And acknowledging that the ideals you maybe had a little while ago aren't true. Bella's innately honest. And in "Eclipse" she lies to herself and she lies to everyone around her about the fact that she's in love with Jacob, just not as much as she is with Edward. Just not that extra thing that you can't really describe. I loved playing with the three characters together. There's literally a scene where Jacob and Edward who are mortal enemies are in a tent with a sleeping Bella between them. It's a ridiculous circumstance. We had so much to work with. There's a big battle that happens. It was cool. I've always gotten to do things for really short periods of time. To follow a character this long - it surprises me every time. And also we have such an established dynamic. The way I know Bella feels with Edward. You sort of can't mess with that.

IML: What do you find the most rewarding part of being part of something so phenomenally popular? What is challenging about it?

Kristen: I think my favorite thing about this is that I can keep it personal. If the saga didn't become a franchise and it was literally just a series of movies that I had done, they would mean just as much to me. The fact that this is so important to so many people makes me so happy.

Stay tuned for our interview with Robert Pattinson, and then our chat with Taylor Lautner! OMG two times over!

Continue reading Celeb Scoop: Kristen Stewart (OMG!).
DVD Review: "UP" (And some advice for aspiring animators)
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UpBlurayBoxart sm.jpgPixar and PBS Kids have something in common: people expect the best from them. Fortunately with its latest release, Pixar didn't disappoint. If you saw it in the theatres, you know that "UP" is unique, funny, charming, and a little bit sad (we cried during the first 10 minutes; did you?). The kind of movie you can enjoy with a parent or even a grandparent, because it has something for everyone. If the story of grumpy old guy Carl Frederickson, earnest kid Russell, an eccentric explorer, a floating house, talking dogs, and a strange bird in exotic Paradise Falls seems a little's supposed to. It doesn't resemble any other movie that's been made before, and because of this, its themes -- holding on to your dreams, appreciating what you have in life, reaching out to connect with others when you're feeling lonely -- are even more beautifully expressed. Plus, it helps that "UP" makes you laugh. A lot. Now, "UP" is available on Blu-ray and DVD, and includes a hilarious short film called "Dug's Special Mission" (with a great twist at the end). Here at IML we give it an A+ rating!

A movie like "UP" is bound to make many young people think, "How cool would it be to create animation for a living?" If you have any kind of artistic bent -- whether it's just doodling or full-on painting and drawing -- check out these tips for aspiring animators from "UP" director Pete Docter:

"If you want to be an animator, my advice is to draw as much as you can. Draw at school, draw at home, and draw on the bus... Draw wherever you are. Drawing helps you see things more detailed. I start to pay attention to small things that I would have blazed past otherwise. Keep practicing!"

"We all have hands, but we need to train our brains to use them in certain ways when you draw. That's why it's important to take art lessons at school and learn the basics. A lot of kids think, 'I want to be a computer animator, so I don't need to draw.' But drawing really helps. Trust me... Learn the basics!"

"When it comes to art, you don't need special, expensive equipment. You can draw with anything from a pencil or pen to a crayon or a piece of chalk. Keep it cheap and simple. Draw on scraps of paper if you haven't got a proper pad, but keep drawing."

"There are many different forms of animation. Look at the difference between a Pixar film like Up and traditional hand-drawn animations like Disney's Snow White. Then there are movies like Coraline or Aardman animations, which have a unique charm and appeal. There is no right or wrong with art. Some people like different things, so try them all out and see which one works the best for you."
"I had a drawing teacher at school who always used to say, 'You all have 20,000 lousy drawings in you before you get to the good ones, so get going.' Practice makes perfect, so get drawing and practice away!"

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"If you want to be an animator, experiment with your drawings and try to make short animations at home. Perhaps you want to take photographs and try to create a stop/motion film with clay or LEGO? Do whatever you want, but don't give up. Your animated creations might be shaky at first, but keep trying and you will get better."

"I'm a fan of many different types of art and I don't think you have to stick with drawing or animation alone. It's very easy to get involved with filmmaking, too. Make movies with your friends and a cheap camera and learn from the experience. My kids are 10 and 12 years old and they've made a ton of movies by filming sequences on their camera at home. Everything helps."

"I never imagined I'd be doing what I do for a living. People used to look at me and say, 'You're so lucky.' But I really didn't expect I'd be doing this as a career. I took Philosophy classes, as well as Art, at University - but I really enjoyed art and I wanted to learn how to do it better. If it makes you happy, then keep at it - but make sure you enjoy yourself along the way."


"My Type 2" on PBS
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You've probably heard of diabetes, but do you really know what it is? Maybe you or someone close to you is living with it so you're like, "Duh!" Or maybe you know it has something to do with insulin and giving yourself shots but because it doesn't affect you, that's as far as your awareness goes.

This Saturday, November 14 is World Diabetes Day, which is a great opportunity to educate yourself or those around you about the disease. You maybe be thinking, "Do we need a whole DAY devoted to diabetes?" Well...yes. Yes we do. Diabetes is difficult. It imposes lifelong demands on the 285 million people worldwide now living with diabetes, as well as their families. People with diabetes have to provide 95% of their own care so they really need to know what's going on. In addition, the International Diabetes Foundation estimates that over 344 million people worldwide are at risk for type 2 diabetes, which can be prevented in many cases with the help of lifestyle changes such as exercise and maintaining a healthy weight. The people behind World Diabetes Day want everyone to:

  • Know the diabetes risks and warning signs
  • Know how to respond to diabetes and who to turn to
  • Know how to manage diabetes and take control
mytype2.jpgThat's why we urge you to check out a new PBS special called "My Type2" which airs this Saturday and tells the stories of several teens aged 13 to 19 who are among the 160 million (and growing) people on the planet living with type 2 diabetes. Watch their video diaries, learn about the disease, and take part in an online community for teens who may wonder, "How do I live with it? How can I handle it? Will it change my life?"

At IML we'll also be addressing this issue with our upcoming "Living with Special Needs" topic. Stay tuned!

In Honor of Veterans' Day
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Hey, here's something we didn't know: Veterans' Day, which is observed every year in the U.S. on November 11, was originally called Armistice Day in honor of the armistice that ended World War I in 1918. In 1954, it was renamed and given the added significance of honoring veterans of the armed services. We like how this holiday, coming up on Wednesday, is not so much about war or peace but rather, simply about people...People who have risked everything and made incredible sacrifices to answer the call of duty. Even if you don't fully understand or agree with why U.S. military troops are present somewhere, you can still support the troops themselves. And, of course, their families.

We asked IML'ers to share their thoughts and experiences about having family in the Armed Forces; your stories get us a little choked up!

This Wednesday, November 11, you can also catch a really cool film on PBS' POV series called "The Way We Get By," which tells the story of three senior citizens in Bangor, Maine who volunteer to greet troops as they come home from overseas. It's the kind of show you can watch together with your family, and might lead to some juicy conversations about a range of subjects.

We also encourage you to get involved as a troop greeter yourself! Not everyone's able to head to an airport and greet troops in person (but if you can, how awesome would that be?; check out websites like You (and friends, or family, or your youth group) can become a "virtual" troop greeter by participating in "The Way We Get By"'s Troop Greeting Poster Activity where you can create your own sign, color one, or order a pre-made banner.

And to those of you who have someone close to you who's a veteran or current member of the Armed Forces, especially those on active duty right now: at IML our hearts are with you, and we thank you!


Book Review: "Ottoline Goes to School"
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When we're little, books are mostly about the pictures. Then when we're a little bigger, the words get more important, but we still like those pictures a lot. Then at some point we might feel like we're not supposed to care about the pictures anymore because we're, like, too old for that stuff. But fortunately, stories can be told in so many ways these days, and many of them involve words and images working together, complementing each other, in graphic novels, comics, and other books that are still very much about the pictures.

ottoline.jpgOttoline Goes to School, written and illustrated by Chris Riddell (HarperCollins) is like that. Funny, offbeat, and wonderfully weird, it's the story of Ottoline, who's cared for by servants and her strange but loyal friend Mr. Munroe while her parents travel the world as "Collectors." (This is the second book in the Ottoline series; the first is titled Ottoline and the Yellow Cat.) Ottoline meets a charismatic new friend named Cecily, who entices her to enroll in the Alice B. Smith School for the Differently Gifted. The adventures that follow involve a campus mystery, Ottoline's search for her "gift," and some lessons about friendship. But it's the illustrations that really make this book special; they'll make you giggle and take a closer look, really bringing you into Ottoline's world. It's a strange one for sure, but much of it will seem oddly familiar too...

IML's Rating: B+

The Animal C.A.R.E. Club
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One of the things we love about having the IML blog is that we can write about something simply because we think it's cool. Like, a bunch of high school students starting a club devoted to helping animals. (We're big animal lovers ourselves; the IML office is home to not one, not two, but THREE very spoiled cats.)

sweetwater.jpgThe Animal C.A.R.E. Club at Sweetwater Union High School in National City, California was recently selected as the 2009 Humane Society Youth Club award winner by the The Humane Society of the United States. The award honors a K-12 youth club that has made a significant contribution to animal protection.

The club has a growing membership of about 100 students and works to educate their classmates and community about animal cruelty. For instance, recently they aired a PSA on dogfighting from The Humane Society of the United States for the entire school. The message was a powerful one for young people who live in a community where fighting and chaining dogs is considered acceptable by many residents. Here are some other amazing things they've done:

  • Hosting SNAP (Spay Neuter Action Project) on campus. Approximately 200 dogs were spayed and neutered for free or at low cost.
  • Organizing and promoting a free veterinary clinic where dogs and cats are seen by a vet, vaccinated and licensed for free.
  • Protesting a mall pet shop on Saturdays to educate the public about puppy mills.
  • Letter-writing campaigns, including recent letters to Gov. Schwarzenegger to sign bills to ban cow tail docking and to support puppy mill legislation.
  • Fundraising for favorite causes such as the Baja Animal Sanctuary in Rosarito, Mexico.
  • Advocating for the harbor seal colony living in La Jolla, CA.
Says the Animal C.A.R.E. Club founder and advisor Kristina Campbell: "One of the great things about the club is that all it takes is a desire and commitment to making a difference for animals. Students don't have to be academically brilliant or an athlete. In essence, anyone can participate."

Props to you, members of the Sweetwater Union High Animal C.A.R.E. Club! Just think about all the animals and people this small group of teens has impacted (and the great friendships that were probably forged in the process). And to all of our IML'ers: is there anything like this at your school? If not, could somebody start one? Even if you can't start a whole club, there's lots that one or a few individuals can do to make a difference for animals; read all about it in our Pets section.

You can learn more about the Animal C.A.R.E. Club and other youth groups at