Mandy Moore: The New Young Hollywood
Thousands of faces arrive in Hollywood every year. Only a few make it. Camouflaged among those few are a Handful that will become stars. We've built our reputation on picking out those stars-in-the-making, and our annual Young Hollywood Awards puts a spotlight on them each spring. Here are some of this year's chosen. To see who else is nominated--and to cast your vote--log onto www.movieline.com.
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."
For a hint on the range of Moore's aspirations, it's instructive to hear about a film she didn't end up making. "I really wanted to do Chicago. I auditioned for the role Lucy Liu got, but they said I was too young. I'm a musical theater geek, and my dream is to star on Broadway in a great revival of Bye Bye Birdie or, when I'm old enough, Guys and Dolls."
In the blink of an eye Moore will no longer be too young for the most sought-after roles in Hollywood. In the meantime she seems to be growing up in style. "I don't consider myself a very fashionable person, but I do appreciate fashion. As far as designers, I love Marc Jacobs, Balenciaga, Chloé--elegant, tasteful, classy stuff that I can wear for awhile and not be out of date. I don't like to be too trendy. Anyone can do that."
Moore has also passed her first celebrity test: she managed to avoid a tabloid frenzy over her breakup with
"That '70s Show" star Wilmer Valderrama. "We were together for a year and a half, and it just kind of fizzled," she explains. "I was a young girl. My experience with actors is that there's something different about them. I much prefer to stay out of that whole world."
Moore is now seeing American tennis sensation Andy Roddick, about whom she says, "I'm very much in love. I was filming How To Deal in Toronto and he was playing a tournament there. My mother is an uber-tennis fan and had always been talking about this guy, and I was like, 'Tennis? Ugh' She dragged me to one of his matches, and I met him afterwards. I knew nothing about tennis and he knew nothing about the entertainment industry. Although I've since learned a lot about tennis, we don't talk about work. We're just together. I'm so young, so who knows what will happen, but my parents love him and his family. I couldn't be happier."
And she also couldn't be more open to risky adventures with her new boyfriend. "Andy came to L.A. to visit and dragged my parents and me skydiving. He'd done it before and so had my parents. I was so scared, I thought, 'I'll get up there and the pilot will have to take me back down.' But Andy jumped and I followed him." However young Moore seems for her fast-track success, her description of what it was like to jump out of an airplane takes care of any doubt about her readiness for the Big Ride that Hollywood offers: "It's the greatest feeling ever. I know it's dangerous but I'm addicted."