Sure, Spring Breakers was no ordinary movie for Selena Gomez who previously had done Disney shows, kids films, and animated motion pictures. But despite the mixed critics, Spring Breakers is not only a cult movie but also an important step in Selena’s career as an independent and more multifarious actress. Harmony Korine and James Franco helped Selena to challenge herself and free her from the image of being an irrelevant Disney princess. But no other movie shocked her fans like Spring Breakers did.
Selena, how did you become attached to Spring Breakers?
Because of Harmony and Rachel Korine. I guess they both saw something about me, and my Mom got a hold of the script because she is my manager. She loves Harmony’s work and she was so excited. I wasn’t too familiar with his work. I remember hearing a lot about Kids but I was really young when it came out. When the request came in, I saw Kids, Gummo, Trash Humpers and Mister Lonely and I loved the way he shot and the way he worked and I was just so excited.
So when I read the script, I was a little scared because I was like, “Oh, this is totally different from anything I’ve ever done before.” I wanted to meet him, so I flew out to his house in Nashville and auditioned with him for about two hours and talked to him, and I completely fell in love with him and Rachel.
Your role in Spring Breakers feels challenging. Do you see it as being a particularly important step in your career?
Definitely. I mean, I do specific things in my career that are tailored for a specific audience. Obviously, I have a younger generation that looks at me. I really appreciate that, and I did animated movies. So I wanted to respect that and still do things that will earn me that respect. But I also wanted to do things that challenge me and put me out of my element and when I met Harmony I completely trusted him and I just felt like this was the safest place I could try this to be who I want to be and try to become a better actress.
You play Faith, the only girl in the story with a moral compass. Is that the way you are in real life?
Yes. I think a lot about something before I do it. I look at something, then I overanalyze it to death, and then I make the decision to go and do it.
This movie has a lot of improvisation. How was that for you?
Amazing. I don’t want to do a movie with lines again! It forces you to really become that person. You know there is a guideline and you know what you are supposed to be portraying, but you are the one making the words and creating the scene. I’ve never faced such a testing challenge, and it was really fun. It will be hard to go back to memorizing a bunch of lines.
For Spring Breakers you acted alongside James Franco who plays a rapper called Alien. What was it like working with him?
I think it is his character that made me act quite well. When I met James at New Year’s, he is just so charismatic and obviously he is cute, but as this character, he is so creepy. In real life, I’m attracted to the Ryan Goslings and those guys, not to that kind of grungy guy. So I always get nervous when I see him being creepy and hitting on a nineteen-year-old. He had this great creep factor that made it easier for me.
Why do you think the other girls are attracted to him?
The bad boy factor. I mean, as much as any girl wants to have the perfect guy, you always want a little bit of a bad boy, someone who rebels. I completely get it, absolutely. With the gold teeth and stuff, it is so funny, I think that’s what they like, it’s exciting, and I can totally see what they see in him.
What was it like shooting in St. Petersburg, Florida, during spring break?
I loved it. It’s been really fun. I’m glad it wasn’t a main city like Miami because that would have been a bit overbearing. I felt more secure in St. Petersburg because it’s small and it’s nice to be in a place with not too much attention. There have been a few paparazzi but it’s been fine.
What was your perception of spring break and real spring breakers before connecting with Harmony’s ideas?
It was everything I expected. I had a picture of what spring break was, and you see it in videos and how they are completely crazy, and then you are in it and you witness it and it is intense. There were a few things Harmony did that were wild and beautiful and fun and I didn’t know could be done, but I kind of expected it to be that crazy.
In what way has Spring Breakers changed you?
This opened my eyes and made me more comfortable in taking risks. I was excited just to look at what’s out there and take the next step and do a couple of different roles whatever they are. It also changed people’s perception in Hollywood. The first thing they say to me now is, “So you’ve worked with Harmony Korine? That’s crazy. Is he crazy?” I think it’s exciting to throw people off, so I like it. Spring Breakers helped me not be afraid. Like I said, I’m generally very tentative and overthinking, but this movie made me push myself.
Many other movies have millions of dollars behind them, but this one has girl power and Franco power. Does that make you proud?
It’s weird. I took the role because I honestly thought it would be more independent. I mean, it is really independent, I just didn’t know it could be commercially successful. I have done films that are commercial, advertisements everywhere you look, all that stuff, and you have to go through a studio and they nit-pick everything to make it something every audience can see, and I don’t think that this film is that.
Looking back, what was the most exciting thing about working with Harmony Korine?
What I like most about him is that I am never wrong it’s just a choice. He’s always like, “That’s good, put a little of this into it.” I love that. I don’t handle criticism very well, so it is comforting to have his support. I hear him saying, “That was amazing but try it again and again and again, and just play with it.” He is definitely my favorite director I have ever worked with.
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