Odette Yustman Talks Rocking to Kriss Kross and Breaking Dishes for "You Again"
Tue, 21 Sep 2010 09:16:21
Odette Yustman Photos
Odette Yustman Videos
Odette Yustman adds a little fire to You Again.
Back in the day, Yustman's Joanna was a bit of "mean girl" to Kristen Bell's Marni. Now, as if by a poetic twist of fate, Joanna is marrying Marni's big brother. Initially, it seems like Joanna's dropped her previous proclivity for tormenting Marni and she's "Miss Perfect." However, Yustman heats the character up with a clever streak that rouses a ton of laughter as she continues subtlely driving Marni crazy!
Sassy, sweet and smart, Yustman gives Joanna multiple layers that make for big laughs and rustle up some emotional moments. In her performance, the actress lets Joanna's compassionate side shine, but that "mean girl" always sits below the surface ready to pounce. That dichotomy is masterful on Yustman's part and it helps solidify You Again a must-see modern screwball comedy.
Odette Yustman sat down with ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino for an exclusive interview about bringing humor and heart to You Again, getting down to Kriss Kross, some of her favorite artists and how much fun it was to smash dishes with Kristen Bell.
Don't miss You Again when it hits theaters September 24th from Touchstone Pictures/Walt Disney Pictures!
The film balances the heartfelt moments and humor perfectly. Was that something you dug about it?
That's exactly what attracted me to the movie! I read the script and, at this point, I hadn't done any big romantic comedies. I thought, "I've got to do one. I love watching them, and I love reading them. I really want to do this movie!" I sat down with Andy [Fickman, director], and I was trying to convince him that I would be the right girl for the part [Laughs]. I auditioned for it, and I just fell in love. The script is so well-written, and I hope that it translates into the movie. It is what drew me to the movie. It's so heartfelt, and it's real. These situations happen in real life. They've happened to me! I had a mean girl that was horrible, and I still haven't gotten my apology [Laughs].
Was Joanna's back story a way for you to get closer to her?
Absolutely! I think so. One of the great things about this character is I could sympathize with her. That was a big thing. I saw redeeming qualities in her, obviously not when you see the flashbacks. However, I do feel like people can change, and I do feel like, if given the right opportunity, they will. Hopefully, they'll make their case and apologize. Since there was such a strong background, I could see where Joanna could be redeeming and how I could play her. She's a really layered girl, and I do know people like this. For me, it was challenging because she really was a character.
Do you ever listen to music to get into character?
All the time!
What were you listening to for Joanna?
I don't like to reveal too many secrets [Laughs]. But, I go everywhere from Sting to Michael Jackson to Britney Spears. I go all across the map. I'm not afraid to tap into those things…
You get down to some Kriss Kross in the movie. Was putting your own spin on "Jump " fun?
In the movie, that was a whole situation. I was more embarrassed than anything [Laughs]. I'm not a great dancer, and it was a challenge. I had to learn how to rap. I had to break it down and own it. I had to be really confident when I wasn't. I had all of these girls around me that are professional dancers, and I was like, "I don't know how I'm supposed to look good! Why'd you get all of these women who know what they're doing?" [Laughs] I had a great time with it though.
It came across as perfectly hilarious. You and the dancers were like the white TLC.
Yeah, we were! Thank you!
When you first read the script, did that scene take you by surprise?
It wasn't in the original script! They added this whole scene, and they told me it would be like the Cameron Diaz moment in My Best Friend's Wedding when she gets up and does karaoke. She's a bad singer, but it works and then she's endearing. I was like, "Oh, I've got this!" [Laughs] Then they said, "You have to actually rap, dance, perform a whole routine and look cool!" I just had fun with it.
Did you get to choose the song?
No, I didn't! I would've never chosen something fast [Laughs]. I got to go into the recording studio and record. I had the headset on and I felt like I was the real deal for a second there. I was into that.
So you actually recorded your take?
I did! I had to pay attention to the timing and everything. The engineer would say, "Faster!" I'd get tongue-tied and the whole thing! I respect these rappers; I'm telling you right now [Laughs].
You really go all-out for your roles!
I try [Laughs].
Was there a certain aspect of Joanna's character that you gravitated towards the most?
I think it truly was her vulnerability. You can see that. You can tell that she wants to change. She so desperately wants to become this person that she thinks she already is, until she realizes she really owes an apology and she did do those horrible things. She comes to the realization that life will be a little bit better if she apologizes. I saw that, and I really enjoyed that because I was bullied in high school. There was a chance for me to play this bully, but then also for the character to redeem herself. I don't lose sleep over it at night, but it would be nice if this mean girl would've come up to me and said, "Listen, I was a bitch. I'm sorry!" [Laughs] Great, let's move on.
High school really does shape you. Most people live with the same characteristics that they developed during those four years.
You really do! I asked my grandmother if anything like that ever happened to her and she said, "Are you kidding me? I still remember her name!" You're absolutely right. High school shapes you, and you have your most embarrassing moments in high school and some of the coolest—sometimes. It's where you really learn who you are and what you're trying to do. It's hard, difficult and awkward.
That fight scene between you and Kristen is pretty funny. It seems like throwing vases was a blast for you.
That was intense! I had a really good time shooting that. I actually have horrible aim. They said, "Odette, please don't hit the camera. There's a target. Just try to aim at the target." The very first time I threw the dish, it goes smack into the middle of the camera! I thought, "I screwed everything up! I've ruined production! I'm done!" Thank God the camera didn't break and it was all good. Of course, I did it twice [Laughs].
What's next for you?
I just shot a movie called The Double. It's completely different from You Again. It's a spy thriller action movie with Richard Gere and Topher Grace. I play Topher's wife in the movie. I get to play a wife with kids and be a little domestic. It's a change.
Will you be seeing You Again this Friday?
Check out our interview with Kristen Bell here! Also the cast talks what songs remind them of high school here!