Mandy Moore: Getting Moore
She went from pop princess to serious actress with A Walk To Remember, and now she's going comedic with How to Deal. And instead of dating a movie star or rock god, she's being courted by tennis ace Andy Roddick. How will Mandy Moore surprise us next?
In the year of a blockbuster like Spider-Man, hardly anybody thinks of a little chick flick like the adaptation of Nicholas Sparks's best-seller A Walk to Remember as an important success. But as a matter of fact, the unimposing, smoothly done weepie won its target audience with easy aplomb, and the fresh-faced girl who starred in it left a lasting impression with her tendency to inspire rather than jerk tears. A Walk to Remember would have been a coup for any young actress, but for Mandy Moore, a popular singer who released her first album in 1999 at age 15 and scored a hit with "Candy," it was even more significant. Many figured she wouldn't be able to make the crossover into movies and relentlessly compared her to Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. But with A Walk to Remember, Moore crushed those comparisons, proving once and for all that she was in another class.
"You know what I think?" says Moore, looking impossibly healthy in a retro T-shirt and slacks while sipping orange juice in a quiet Sunset Boulevard cafe. "In the past six months, I've learned so much about myself--who I am, what I like, what I don't like. I feel like I'm growing up, and I can say that I feel more like an actress than a musician. I'm passionate about writing, performing and touring with my music, but in the past, I haven't been as proud of my music efforts as I have been with the films I've done so far."
Moore's habit of looking and sounding her age is perhaps the secret to her success, the contradictory core of her mystique. For even though she still lives with her parents and siblings, it is she who bought the '20s-era mansion they all reside in together. Only drive and discipline far beyond her years could have gotten this girl where she is. "I'm maturing, realizing what's me and what isn't and learning that some people respond to that," she says, speaking like an ordinary teen, but she goes on to stress that her next musical product will be "unlike earlier albums, when I was basically told, 'These are the songs you're going to sing.' This is a concept record, very organic and I'm working closely with one single producer and it won't be what people expect from before."
Before A Walk to Remember, Moore had already grabbed attention for playing a cheerleader in the surprise hit movie The Princess Diaries, and following Walk she was inundated with offers. "Most of the scripts I got were 'pop-star-turns-normal-girl/Roman Holiday kinds of things that didn't seem like a challenge," she says. What she decided to do were two very different comedies. In this summer's How To Deal, she co-stars with Allison Janney and Peter Gallagher as a tough, jaded teen who suddenly meets Mr. Perfect, played by handsome newcomer Trent Ford. "I wanted to play a girl I had nothing in common with--a ballsy, authoritative chick who is cynical about love," she says.
Moore will then do an about-face opposite Patrick Fugit, Jena Malone, Macaulay Culkin, Eva Amurri and Heather Matarazzo in the comic satire Saved, which is being produced by Michael Stipe. She'll play an ultra-religious, Baptist high school beauty. "Jena Malone is my favorite young actress, and I jumped at the opportunity to work with her," says Moore. "This movie is a controversial black comedy, but it also has a sweet, sentimental John Hughes quality. If I described what happens in it, it might sound like a typical teen film--there's even a big prom scene. But the reality is very tweaked. It's about these kids who are totally obsessed with Jesus."
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