With guest roles on such TV shows as 7th Heaven and The O.C., Ashley Benson knows something about good, wholesome, sunny, Southern California. It is this knowledge that she brought to the starring role of role Carson in Bring It On: In It to Win It.
In this fourth installment of the Bring It On series, high school senior Carson goes to the "Cheer Camp Nationals" with the goal of leading the West High Sharks to a triumphant win. However New Yorker Brooke has other ideas "and her team, the East High Jets," have ideas of their own about how to take the tournament's "Spirit Stick." The squads escalate their battle against one another, and Carson finds herself having feelings for Penn, but she doesn't know that he's a Jet. Soon Brooke finds out what's going on and she decides to up the ante "by challenging Carson to a one-on-one cheer-off." Soon "cheer fighting" takes place on the floor and it gets so out of hand that both teams get booted out of "the competition." In order to enter back into "cheer stick" contention, the rivals realize they'll have to join forces and show that they are both in it to win it!
Could you tell the readers a little bit about your character in this new Bring It On film?
Ashley Benson: I play Carson and she's the Captain of the West Coast Sharks. She's your All American girl and she's very determined to win this year because she never wins any competitions. She gets into problems with Brooke (Cassie Scerbo), the Captain of the East Coast Jets. Brooke is very competent and she's won every year of the competition. Carson holds back a little bit, she struggles as a person and she really wants her team to win and wants them to be champions. During the movie she falls in love with this Penn (Michael Copon) and she finds out that he's a Jet. You're really not supposed to date outside of your team so it kind of develops into a love triangle between Penn, Brooke and Carson. We have a cheer off, well a cheer rumble, and both teams go and compete against one another and battle, and try and see who's better. At the very end of this cheer battle a light flashes and it distracts us and we all fall and people get injured. We're eventually disqualified out of the competition.
Carson is now torn because all she wanted to do was win the competition because she tried so hard and this is her main goal. It ends up that she combines teams with the East Coast Jets and the West Coast Sharks. The West Coast Sharks are very flowy and they have their own style. The East Coast Jets are very strict, cheerleading... and we had to find a way to combine movements and make them into one routine.
You mentioned that some of you were Sharks and some of you were Jets, did any of this rivalry play out off screen? Did you eat separately or anything?
Ashley Benson: It wasn't really like that. With the cheerleaders it was different. The cheerleaders already knew each other from the other teams so the actors that were on the Jets side, I think, got closer to the Jets and the Sharks side got closer to the Sharks' cheerleaders. We all pretty much got a long. We also got to know more personal stuff about the people on our team, just because we practiced with them every day and we would film with them. I think there was definitely a difference but we basically all got along really well.
Had you ever done any cheerleading before doing this film?
Ashley Benson: No, I actually hadn't. I've danced since I was two so that actually helped a lot. I never cheered before so that was very different. In dance you're so used to being flowy and so used to having different movements and stuff. With cheering you have to be so strong and stiff because if you're not you can just mess up everything. I actually had to do all my own stunts in the movie so we had to do tricks and flyers, it was crazy. I had to learn to be strong and not loose like you normally are as a dancer. It was definitely a challenge.
What was the hardest part of making Bring It On: In It to Win It?
Ashley Benson: The hardest part was actually the training because I had to learn how to do all the stunts. I'm afraid of heights so going up in the air, one guy holding your foot by one hand and you're balancing on one leg with a guy behind you, that was really hard for me because I was just scared that he would drop me and I'd get hurt. I had amazing cheerleaders that were behind me and they really helped me through it. Every time, before a stunt, they would tell me that I could do it and every time I did it, after we rehearsed it awhile, without them I don't know what I would do. They were so sweet and they helped me a lot.
What is it, do you think, about the Bring It On films that makes them so popular?
Ashley Benson: I think a lot of people can relate to them. I think a lot of cheerleaders love it because there's obviously cheering and they relate to everybody. I love the Bring It On films, I think they're great. They're fun to watch and they're in exciting. There's a lot of energy to them and they reach out to a lot of different people.
What do you have coming up next?
Ashley Benson: I'm not sure. I'm on hold for a couple of things. Hopefully, I'll be doing movies and TV shows and all that sort of stuff. That's what I'm hoping for.
Bring It On: In It to Win It comes to DVD December 18 from Universal Studios Home Entertainment.