Ashley Tisdale Rolls With the Punchlines
Ashley Tisdale has graduated from "High School Musical" and the college cheerleading of "Hellcats," but that doesn’t mean she’s beyond starring in a piece of Hollywood juvenilia. In this case, it’s "Scary Movie V," the fifth in a line of movie satirizing the popular horror movies of recent years that comes to theaters this week. This time around, the film targets titles like "Mama," "Paranormal Activity," "Black Swan" and "Rise of the Planet of the Apes."
There’s plenty of juvenile humor throughout "Scary Movie V." In one "Paranormal Activity" segment, Tisdale ends up humping a microwave and nearby furniture, oblivious that the ghosts are making her do it. It’s a bravura slapstick performance.
"That was part of the reshoots. I had already humped a potted plant in Atlanta and that was nerve-wracking," Tisdale said. "For that, there was only one camera guy and they kept it really quiet so it was okay." She didn’t have that privacy for the reshoots, but rolled with the punches. "When I had to ’be’ with the chair and the microwave, I was just like, ’Oh, I’ve got this. It’s fine that everybody’s watching.’"
Just so wrong...
Any sense of vanity went out the window with the movie. In fact, when it’s this ridiculous, Tisdale can be as suggestive as she wants. "I do recall having the hardwood chair hitting me from behind and I was all into it. Suddenly, I realized, ’I’m getting slammed by a chair right now.’ And I started laughing hysterically because I never thought I’d be in that position. Then the director says, ’Do it harder.’ And I’m like, ’It’s hard wood. It hurts.’ I wish there had been a camera on the prop guy who was jamming it behind me. It just was so wrong."
By the fifth film in the series, the "Scary Movie" franchise has already gone pretty far trying to top its predecessors. Add to that, other over-the-top comedies keep raising the stakes. But Tisdale puts competition out of her mind and tries to focus on her own performance.
"As a comedian, I just feel like I like to go for things -- go for the joke and do it. I’m not thinking about what I look like or what expression I’m making. You just kind of have to be free as a comedian and not take yourself too seriously. So every single time they’re like, ’Yes, now he’s going to hit you from behind and you’re going to land in the toilet,’ I’m like, ’Okay, cool. Just make sure it’s water.’ So, I was always up for everything."
Getting close with a co-star
Tisdale had to get close to some of her flesh and blood costars as well. Erica Ash plays a rival dancer in the "Black Swan" spoof, and sticks her fingers all the way in Tisdale’s mouth for one joke.
"That day, it’s funny, I had a sinus infection and I felt like, ’Props to you for sticking your finger in my mouth.’ Also there was a cut scene where Heather Locklear also sticks her finger in my mouth, so I was no longer a virgin anymore with the finger in the mouth-thing. Erica was all over the place. They (the crew) were telling her, ’Okay, now, put your finger up her nose.’ And I was like, ’This is just gross,’ because then she’d put it back in my mouth. But did I ask them to stop it? No. I was like, ’We’re good.’"
The majority of "Scary Movie V’s" plot comes from the film "Mama" which only opened in January. This meant there was a fast-turn-around, just 10 days, for them to incorporate parodies of that film into this one.
"I saw ’Mama’ opening weekend just because I wanted to go see the movie. I came out and immediately texted the producers. And I was like, ’Oh my gosh, like we should really be spoofing ’Mama.’ And then [screenwriter] Phil [Beauman] was like, ’Funny, we’re actually going to spoof ’Mama.’ So then we saw it again."
Tisdale takes the Jessica Chastain role from that film of an urban rock-and-roll type that doesn’t necessarily like kids. When her boyfriend (Simon Rex) adopts the rescued children of his deceased brother (Charlie Sheen in the "Scary Movie V" version), the couple has to face the forest spirit Mama, as well as her character’s own fear of motherhood. To make a stronger connection, Tisdale even donned a black wig and tattoo sleeve to impersonate Chastain.
"With Jessica Chastain, the wig and the whole outfit helped me get into it. I definitely became badass when I put the wig on. And I was not really nice to the kids. But then I’d take it off, I was super nice. Like, I love kids. And everybody was like, ’Ashley, whenever she puts that wig on, she becomes a different person.’"
For the "Black Swan" spoofs, Tisdale actually did some ballet training. Unfortunately, we don’t get to see that because her dancing didn’t make the final cut.
"Oh yeah, that got cut. It was like a whole sequence. Yeah, we trained for a month and then they just cut it right out. You know, with this type of movie, you got to roll with it. It’s just kind of what’s funny and what’s not funny and what makes sense. In the end, we spoofed ’Mama’ far more than ’Black Swan.’ That footage just got cut."
It may be for the best. The sections that parody "Mama" and "Paranormal Activity" are where Tisdale shines the best. Though, seeing both those movies in the first place was a bit much for her to handle.
"I have always been really scared of scary movies just because I live by myself and have a big imagination. So I’ve never been like really into them. But it’s funny because doing this movie, now I like them. Now I’ll go watch ’Mama,’ and think, ’Oh my gosh, that’s so spoof-able.’ Because sometimes it’s just so ridiculous."
’Left Behind’ next?
Perhaps best known as Sharpay in the "High School Musical" films, Tisdale remains in touch with her young fans. In fact, most Ashley Tisdale fans are even younger than the fans of "High School Musical" because of her participation in the Disney animated series "Phineas and Ferb." Even their parents sometimes approach her as fans.
"I was at the Kids’ Choice Awards backstage and Jon Stewart came up to me and was like, ’Hey, every single time I hear your voice, I always think [of the song] ’I’m Busted.’ I get that a lot. So many people come up and are like, ’Oh, we’re such big fans of Phineas and Ferb.’ It’s so funny but I have all these comedians and people that I look up to that love it. So I think that’s really cool, getting the attention for ’Phineas and Ferb.’"
Next, Tisdale will take a more grown-up role in the action blockbuster version of the "Left Behind" books, starring Nicolas Cage. Tisdale has little information on that project at this time. "It’s completely different from this movie which is pretty cool too, but I think it’s a really cool book series."
For the young fans who still look up to her, Tisdale offers some sage advice. "Just do whatever you want to do. Just follow your dreams and keep at it and don’t give up because it’s so easy to give up when stuff gets really hard or frustrating. But you’ll never get to where you want to go if you do."
Even Tisdale has tough times. But she realizes the difference between letting something hold her back and persevering is as simple as recognizing a difficult moment and letting it pass. "You can take a couple seconds... For me, when I’m upset about something, I’m like, ’Ah, man, that sucks.’ But I always know that if I’m meant to do something, then I’m going to do it. I feel like God has a plan for me. Definitely, I’m thankful for what I’ve done. But I feel like I was meant to do it. And if I’m not meant to do it, I’m not meant to do it. So then, just keep going, you know. It’s like you can’t take it personally. It’s a business."
"Scary Movie V" is in theaters.