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Hairspray - Nikki Blonsky and Amanda Bynes interview

Amanda Bynes and Nikki Blonsky in Hairspray

Interview by Rob Carnevale

NEWCOMER Nikki Blonsky and Amanda Bynes talk about some of the challenges of filming Hairspray and what it was like to work with such a well-known Hollywood cast…

Q. Nikki, there’s a genuine chemistry between yourself and your on-screen parents, John Travolta and Christopher Walken. But was having Walken as dad a bit of a crack-up?
Nikki Blonsky: It was an incredible experience. They’re two legends. I’m very close to my own parents so I know what that strong relationship is like. It really put a lot of warmth and comfort into the Turnblad family.

Q. His line readings are unique, aren’t they?
Nikki Blonsky: Oh absolutely. Even the way he says my name, [copies voice] “Tra-[hay]cey”. He’s incredible.

Q. Amanda, you also had a pretty hilarious screen mom in the form of Allison Janney. How was she to work with?
Amanda Bynes: She’s hilarious and she ad-libbed a lot of her lines. Adam [Shankman, director] and her had a lot of fun making her character as evil as possible.

Q. What was the first read through like in the company of people like Michelle Pfeiffer, John Travolta and Queen Latifah?
Amanda Bynes: It was intimidating but they were all so nice. And I think because John and Michelle were a little nervous about singing and dancing they sort of came in without that big of an ego. They were doing something they weren’t comfortable with. We’d been dancing for two months before they came, so they were like: “Teach us! Help us! What can we do?” They were really nice to us, thank God!

Q. How familiar were you with the previous material? And did you have to brush up on it?
Nikki Blonsky: I saw the original movie when I was younger and I loved it. But then I saw the Broadway show for my 15th birthday present and I fell in love with Tracy. It was the first time I really connected on a whole other level with another person. I thought: “That’s me! She understands me.” And I knew that I wanted to play her. I then auditioned for the Broadway show but was too young to get it and a year later I checked on the website and saw they were casting for the movie. Low and behold, I can’t believe I’m playing her.

Amanda Bynes: I was a big fan of the original and that’s why I wanted to do the movie because I love John Waters and that dark, twisted, tongue in cheek sense of humour that he had in that movie and Cry Baby, which I was a huge fan of. I also saw the play when it was in LA, long before I knew they were making it into a movie. And I loved that too, so when I found out they were making a movie version of the musical I had to be in it.

Q. Did Ricki Lake share any advice with you on the day she did her cameo?
Nikki Blonsky: What was amazing was that she shared experiences she had making the film. She told Amanda and I about making the 1988 version of the film and Penny [Pingleton, Amanda’s character]. She was a great inspiration for me. She’s had a successful career and I was honoured to be playing her part at all.

Q. But were you glad you didn’t have to wear the ‘roach dress?
Nikki Blonsky: Can I just tell you, I was so happy to get this part I would have done anything they asked. I would have bathed in the ‘roaches, it wouldn’t have mattered.

Read our interview with Zac Efron and Elijah Kelley