Interview: Anneliese van der Pol

8/20/2010 Posted by Admin

Interview: Anneliese van der Pol

By our guest blogger, Joel Crabtree

Best known for her role on “That’s So Raven,” Anneliese van der Pol is taking a new turn with her career in “Vampire’s Suck,” in theaters now.

From Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, the creators of “Epic Movie” and “Meet the Spartans,” “Vampires Suck” takes a swing at the vampire craze sparked by the “Twilight” franchise.

An actress with energy to spare, it’s no wonder that van der Pol was cast as Jennifer, the Friedberg & Seltzer version of “Twilight’s” Jessica. The actress can produce the comedic pep necessary for her role in “Vampires Suck,” but she’s not limited to it. Van der Pol has shown her range portraying characters such as Evita, Belle from “Beauty and the Beast” and Esther from “Meet Me in St. Louis” in musical theater productions.

Van der Pol talked about “Vampires Suck” in a recent phone interview with and gave us her take on the “Twilight” pandemic.

Joel Crabtree: So, how did you land the role in “Vampires Suck”?

Anneliese van der Pol: Well, I basically just went to a normal audition, I think at Paramount, and yeah, basically I went in for the role of Bella -- or, we made our movie Becca, the lead role -- and they asked me to come back and read for the Anna Kendrick role, the role of Jennifer ... that would be Jessica in the normal movie. And then I went to another audition, and I think I was one of the first people they told that got the part, but I still had to keep it secret until they had cast everyone else.

JC: What was it like preparing yourself to be in a spoof comedy like this?

AP: You know, it’s actually kind of funny, because I wasn’t really a big fan of the “Twilight” movies. I hadn’t really seen them, I hadn’t read the books, none of my friends really went to see the movies. So I wasn’t really prepared at all, which is actually surprising since I got the part. That sounds terrible, like I didn’t do my homework or something.

I went in maybe five or six years ago for the original movie, for the part of Bella. This was when it was really independent, nobody knew it was going to be such a big deal.

For my first audition for the spoof, I sort of pulled a little bit from that original audition. I got the part luckily, and afterward, I did most of my research. I watched all the movies and I actually watched “Eclipse” with some of the other actors in the movie, in our spoof movie that I have scenes with, in our hotel room, which was kind of fun.

I sort of just tried to do my best Anna Kendrick impression. I watched “Up in the Air” again, because she sort of has this weird ... like weird speech pattern. Not weird, you know, different and unique ... We’ll see how I did.

JC: Now, you did your homework after getting the role. Did you become a fan, or is it sort of still the type of thing that you’re not really into, necessarily?

AP: It’s not anything I’m into, but as a girl, to be honest, every girl likes a chick flick and a good romance and a good love story. I think that’s what I really liked about it.  And of course, Robert Pattinson is to just die for and gorgeous. I think I can appreciate that.

Yeah, I’m not really super into vampires and that whole trend. I’m not very savvy or well-read in that field, the vampire field.

JC: Does that make it easier or more difficult to poke fun at the whole genre?

AP: It makes it easier, I think, because I’m not so attached. I mean, I have friends who I have told about this, classmates in my acting class who I told I’m doing this, and they really do get offended. They take it so seriously. They just love the “Twilight” movies and love the “Twilight” books, and just can’t really believe that we’re making fun of it.

I think it makes me, you know, detach myself. I just think it’s so funny, and I’m so glad we’re doing this and I can’t believe nobody’s done this sooner, spoofed all this “Twilight” craziness going on.

JC: I know.

AP: Yeah, the movies to me are a bit cheesy, if I have to say.

JC: Jason Friedberg and and Aaron Seltzer, they make a very specific brand of movie -- they’re very outrageous in tone -- and I’m curious what the atmosphere was like on the set with them?

AP: The atmosphere with them is awesome. It’s really laid back, you know, they’re guys in their 30s, I’d say mid-30s. Two Jewish guys who went to school together, in college together, and you can tell they’re just really great friends.

I’d say Jason sort of stays back, behind the monitors more, and Aaron is more on-set and talking to actors. They really work well together as a team, and they’re just really open to actors [improvising] and sort of going crazy. Ken Jeong’s in our film and you know, he’d spend 30 minutes at a time just going off in the most ridiculous tangents improvise-wise before a scene. And I remember at one point, Jason was like, “OK, we’re not going to be able to use any of this, but keep going, keep going,” because it was just so funny. He had the whole crew and set laughing.  It really makes for a fun work day, you know?

JC: Now, I have to ask you about your popularity with “That’s So Raven.” You really gained a lot of attention from that, and I wanted to know what were some of the advantages and disadvantages of coming out of that Disney program?

AP: That’s a good question. I’d say there were more advantages than disadvantages. The advantages being that, you know, I made a name for myself. I was able to learn a lot, we did a hundred episodes, so, you know, that’s quite a bit of TV work. I really learned technical things like how to stay in the right light and what camera to use, and the difference between single camera and three-camera and, you know, comedic timing and how to work with others.

I had a great cast, and of course Raven became a good friend of mine and still is a good friend of mine. And it really is like a family, and it’s a good solid job with good solid pay. I’d say the only disadvantage is sort of trying to break that image.

I’m auditioning now and sometimes I find it hard to get in to auditions because people still see me as maybe only a comedic actor or, maybe even just ... I’d say maybe a stupid actor, because people don’t necessarily think outside of the box sometimes. And they see me as young and naive, and it’s hard to get into some casting rooms sometimes.

But, you know, I came in at a time, early, before this music craze hit. Before Hannah Montana and Jonas Brothers and all the big music stuff happened. Which is sort of unfortunate, because I’m quite a good singer and I’ve done quite a bit of theater, but I wasn’t able to take advantage of that ... maybe I came in a little too early.

JC: So, I was going to ask, actually. You’re well-known for your musical theater work as well. You’ve played a lot of classic characters like Belle from “Beauty and the Beast,” Evita and Esther from “Meet Me in St. Louis.” Do you have a favorite character that you’ve portrayed onstage?

AP: I think Esther, really.  I mean, it’s a role I always wanted to play. And she’s just so cool. First, it's technically perfect--it’s a lot of Judy Garland’s songs and she’s an idol of mine. All of the songs are really in my key and set really nicely in my voice. The character’s tough, but still has a heart. She’s good to her sisters and to her family. Even though it’s such an old-fashioned musical written so long ago, I love it. I love Esther’s character, she’s well-rounded and tough ... and falls in love in really the sweetest way and kindest way.

Also the show is just jam-packed with amazing scenes, amazing songs, and I got to dance throughout the whole thing and ride a moving trolley onstage. I loved that show. I loved wearing the dresses. I loved wearing the corsets. I just loved everything about it. I loved my red wigs--I got to have my same hair color wig. Out of all them, probably Esther.

JC: I’m sure you still have a passion for musical theater, do you have plans to continue to pursue that?

AP: Yes, I do. I mean, I love theater. It’s just a struggle for me because I have been getting a lot of auditions and actually getting pretty far out here.  Things are going well.

So, it’s hard for me to stay on the East Coast or the West Coast, or to make that decision. I get offers every now and then for things, some I have to pass, some I’m able to fly out and audition. But definitely theater, especially Broadway, is up top on my list.

And new shows are coming in all the time, so I really just try to take every opportunity I can to be honest.

"Vampires Suck" hits theaters Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2010.

Below is the trailer for "Vampires Suck." What are your thoughts of it?

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