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Celeb Scoop: Jennette McCurdy

By It's My Life on March 8, 2011 1:29 PM | No TrackBacks

bestplayer_02HR.jpgOne of the reasons why Nickelodeon's "iCarly" is a gigantic hit is because of its supporting characters: the bold, acid-tongued Sam and the adorably wacky Spencer. Who doesn't want a Sam and Spencer in their life, even if they do make trouble? Starting this weekend, these two get reincarnated, sort of, when the actors who play them, Jennette McCurdy and Jerry Trainor, star in a new Nickelodeon film called "Best Player."

We were excited to get the chance to talk to Jennette about the new movie, videogames, acting in general, and her upcoming single. It's no surprise that this down-to-earth, thoughtful, intelligent performer has become a role model to so many tweens.

IML: So tell us about the plot of "Best Player" -- it looks awesome!

Jennette: The whole movie is about these two "cyberathletes," which are people who are avid video game players. One of the cyberathletes is named Quincy; he's a guy in his thirties and he still lives with his parents. His parents decide to sell their house and he wants to buy it from them, but he has no money. So he goes online to find a way to make some money doing what he does best, playing videogames. He finds this new game called Black Hole that's offering a competition, and the grand prize is enough money for him to buy his parents' house. He's such a good gamer and can do anything, but with this new game he meets his match in this one player, whose gamer tag is "Prodigy." "Prodigy" is actually a 15-year-old girl named Chris, my character. Towards the end of the film, he finds out that maybe real life is just as exciting as the virtual world.

IML: It does seem like there's a great message in there about videogames and how they relate to reality.

Jennette: Definitely. The Quincy character and the Chris character are entirely consumed by video games, and obsesses to the point where they think that all their worldly problems can be resolved in virtual reality. Then they realize that if they just address their problems and meet them face-to-face, it's not so difficult after all. That's not to say videogames don't have their benefits. That's where the character that I play comes in. She's a misfit. She always feels out of place and is quiet and shy. But when she's playing the game, her confidence level is just through the roof. She feels unbeatable. That's why she plays the game so much, because she doesn't have that feeling in real life.

IML: How is Chris different from Sam on "iCarly"?

Jennette: Well, first of all, Sam's been to juvey! Chris is not good with school and Sam isn't either, but Sam's not good at school because she disregards it and thinks it's pointless; she has street smarts and she thinks that's all she needs. Chris is just so internal about everything, and she really keeps a lot bottled up. You don't really know what's going on in Chris's head. She was a very fun character to play because it was a different channel for me to access, and I had to work a lot with the eyes. Because Chris doesn't always speak in a way you can understand, you have to pay attention to her facial expressions.

IML: What's the hardest part about playing a different character than the one you're known for?

Jennette: I never feel an obligation to find something that's different about a character just to prove I can. You really have to be honest with your portrayal. It definitely was a challenge because the character of Chris in this movie was written in some ways very much like Sam, and in other ways very contradictory. Chris is more innocent in some regards and she has a really sweet side to her that Sam doesn't possess. The biggest challenge was finding that niche where she has some similarities but definitely a lot of different qualities.

bestplayer_03HR.jpgIML: It seems like you did a great job! So you're playing a different character and Jerry's playing a different character. How is your relationship in the movie different from the one between Spencer and Sam?

Jennette: On "iCarly," Spencer's of course very goofy and wacky, and Sam is brazen and sarcastic. She'll joke around and pick on him. In this movie, Chris and the Quincy character have this competitive relationship, but toward the middle of the film, Chris sees a friend in Quincy and really starts to trust, respect, and look up to him. Getting to have that relationship on screen with Jerry was really cool. It was a nice change for us, because I didn't have to be mean to him!

IML: You play videogames yourself, right? Did you have to do any special research or training to prepare to play "Prodigy"?

Jennette: It's interesting, because the game in "Best Player" is called Black Hole and it's on a console that's unnamed throughout the movie. It's obviously not a system or game that's already out there. Our director Damon Santostefano wanted the game to be more in the vein of a Wii or a Kinect where you include gestures and things to relay the movement on the screen. But since it wasn't an established game, there wasn't a template that we could base our body gestures on. He left a lot of that up to us and he told us that he really wanted us to make our own custom moves, so I thought about it a lot and I have probably four or five go-to "Prodigy moves" that I used throughout the film, and a bunch of other little gestures.

IML: It must have been fun to come up with these things!

Jennette: It was! I felt like I was making up some quasi-dance routine.

IML: We hear you also have a new single due out this spring. What can you tell us about that?

Jennette: My single is coming out in April. It's called "Generation Love." It's a song that means a lot to me, and I hope it connects with people who hear it as much as it connected with me when I first heard it. It's about looking at what past generations have done to contribute something to society, whatever that may be, and then wondering what our generation will be known for. I think a lot of times, my generation is thought of as being the "Me, Me, Me" generation or the Facebook generation or whatever. While these are definitely things our generation might be known for, I think there are going to much more substantial things we'll be known for down the road. I think there are a lot of people my age out there doing some great things. I hope that's what we'll be remembered for. This song is a hopeful take on that. The song was actually produced by Jay DeMarcus of Rascall Flatts, which has been one of my favorite bands for the longest time, and working with him was just incredible.

IML: What's next for you, acting-wise?

Jennette: Right now I'm really focusing on my music. I guess I'd love to audition for things and I think each audition is a new challenge, finding a new character is an awesome experience. I wouldn't be opposed to another series. I think series have a great routine to them and you really get to know your crew like a family. But if it were a series, I'd want to do something single-camera mockumentary style like "Arrested Development" or "30 Rock." For movies, if it were comedy, something really oddball. I'd like to do something unexpected. I'm particularly fascinated with really interesting roles. If there's a role that's wild and bizarre and seems difficult to connect with, I love playing those because they're the most fun.

IML: Is there a cause you're really passionate about?

Jennette: I'm really involved right now with St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital. What they do for children is incredible. I had the opportunity to visit the hospital in Memphis a couple weeks ago, and found out that they pay for families and the patients to fly to St. Jude's, then put them up while they're there getting treatment. They don't turn any child away. Right now I'm doing a mall tour for the "Generation Love" single -- called Jennette McCurdy's Generation Love for St. Jude's. The concert is free but at the end, if you give a donation to St. Jude's, you get the single on a CD with another song, a signed picture, and a meet-and-greet pass.

IML: What a great idea...hopefully people will come out to help you support the hospital. Thanks for chatting with us, Jennette, and good luck with everything!

Jennette: Thanks!

"Best Player" premieres on Nickelodeon this Saturday, March 12, at 8pm. You can get more info about Jennette's Generation Love mall tour on her website at www.jennettemccurdy.com.





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