The young actress talks about her new film, the shadow of Kirsten Dunst and her new horror project
Sara Paxton is certainly a rising star. Her film career started at the young age of 8 when she was cast as a young child at a party in Liar Liar. Since then she has risen through the ranks and is starting to appear in sizeable roles such as the title character in Aquamarine, the "wicked" bad girl in Sydney White and now as the lead female in the spoof Superhero Movie. I had a chance to talk with Sara over the phone about this new film and what is on the horizon.
So how did you first become involved with this project?
Sara Paxton: I went in and I just read on camera. I didn't really know what I was doing because I hadn't read the script. Then about a month later, they brought me in like four more times and I got the part and then finally I was allowed to read the script. I was like, 'Ohh, now it makes sense.'
Oh, so you didn't read the script at all until after you got the part?
Sara Paxton: They wouldn't let anyone have the script. It was top-secret.
Wow. That's interesting. So what was it like working with Craig Mazin? He's been a screenwriter for quite awhile and this is one of his first directing gigs.
Sara Paxton: Yeah, he's great. He's naturally one of the funniest people I've ever met. He's super-nice and that's all you could ask for.
Yeah, I remember seeing him on Win Ben Stein's Money back in the day. He was pretty funny.
Sara Paxton: Yeah, he's a funny guy.
So were you one of the first ones that were brought on for this? Who else was attached when you were brought on?
Sara Paxton: I already knew Leslie Nielsen, of course, and Drake (Bell) was already attached, I think, because the last time I came in for a screen test, it was with him. That's all I knew at the time.
What all does this movie spoof off of? It looks like Spider-Man, Fantastic Four?
Sara Paxton: There's a little bit of Batman and X-Men and, let's see. Yeah, Fantastic Four, Batman, X-Men, Spider-Man. I think that's it. There might be something else, I can't remember, but I think that's pretty much it.
So did you do any comic book research for this, or just watch all the movies?
Sara Paxton: I already knew everything. I used to read comics when I was little and I've seen all the superhero movies. I'm a fan, so I didn't need to do any research. I already knew everything.
I'm a really big fan of Christopher McDonald. What was he like to work with?
Sara Paxton: Oh my God. He is so funny. He is hilarious! He is such a nice guy and it was so funny because I always think of him as Shooter McGavin from Happy Gilmore. So the first day I met I came up to him and was like, 'Shooter!' He was totally into it and said, 'Oh, you've seen that movie!' He played along and he was a great guy.
Yeah, I grew up on that movie, practically.
Sara Paxton: Yeah (Laughs).
The spoofs have really seemed to be fan favorites these days. Are you guys expecting big things from the box office for this movie?
Sara Paxton: I don't know. I guess so, that's what I've been hearing. I don't think about that stuff, though. That's their job. My part is done, so all I can do is just see what happens.
For this movie, you're sort of stepping into Kirsten Dunst's shoes for this role. Was that a little nerve-racking for you at all?
Sara Paxton: I thought it would be, but then I read the script and they really don't have anything that would be similar. I don't even have red hair in the movie. I think it's just like a spot of the hero's love interest. I mean, of course I'm supposed to be the Mary Jane character but I thought they were going to have my hair red like hers and they didn't. I think the only part that was similar to Kirsten Dunst was the whole falling off a building and screaming, but they didn't have any personality similarities. At first it was like, 'Oh, I have big shoes to fill," but I had more freedom to kind of go whichever way I wanted to.
Do you have any favorite stories from the set that you can tell us about?
Sara Paxton: Yeah. On the first day of filming I was doing a scene with Drake (Bell), Leslie Nielsen and Jeffrey Tambor. In the scene, Leslie is in a hospital bed in his hospital gown sleeping. When I got on set, he was already under the thing, asleep and he was like, 'I'm just going to sleep for real.' We were like, 'Ha ha, OK Leslie.' So he's sleeping and we go, 'Leslie, you're done. You're wrapped. You've done your part.' He goes, 'I'm done? O.K.' and he gets up and he's in nothing but tighty-whitey's. There's Leslie Nielsen's white legs.
(Laughs) That must have been quite a sight.
Sara Paxton: Yeah. I was like 'Welcome to the Superhero Movie.'
That was your orientation right there, seeing Leslie Nielsen's white legs.
Sara Paxton: Yeah, exactly.
So how big of a part does Pamela Anderson have in this, as the Invisible Girl?
Sara Paxton: I didn't work with her, so I don't know. Yeah, I didn't see her. I don't know when she worked or anything.
Do you have anything you have coming up that you can tell us about? I know the writers strike put a lot of things on hold, but is there anything you're looking into?
Sara Paxton: Yeah. I'm actually leaving in two weeks to go to South Africa to film a movie called The Last House on the Left, so I'm pretty excited. It's my first big, serious role, so I'm nervous and excited at the same time.
The horror remake?
Sara Paxton: Yeah, it's a remake, but it's a little bit different than the original. The original was made in the 70s and it pretty gross and graphic. This one is still done by Wes Craven, but it's going to be a little more realistic.
Is Wes writing and directing this one too?
Sara Paxton: He's just producing. They hired a different director, his name is Dennis Illiadis and he's really great. I've met with him a few times to discuss what his vision is for the movie. The whole idea for Last House on the Left is actually based on a German folk tale from the 1600s. He's going back to the original original instead of basing it on the 1970s gory version.
So, for an overall sense of the movie, what do you hope people take away from Superhero Movie?
Sara Paxton: I hope that people, obviously, think it's funny. I hope that people see not just the laughing gags but I hope they see that there is a story in this movie and I hope they like the story and along the way, think it's funny!
Well, that's about all I have for you. Thanks a lot for your time, Sara.
Sara Paxton: OK, cool. Thanks a lot.
Superhero Movie laughs it up to theaters on March 28.