In the role of Penn in Bring It on: In It to Win It, Michael Copon's character knows a thing or two about playing a heartthrob caught between two girls. 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!
Copon recently took some time out of his busy schedule to discuss making this film.
Could you tell the readers a little about the character of Penn in Bring It on: In It to Win It?
Michael Copon: He's a universal character. The producers allowed me to create Penn however I wanted to create him. I decided to do this because I was like, wow, I can just create something from nothing. I always wanted to do an accent so I kind of gave him a New York accent because he's from the Bronx. He's like a half Puerto Rican kid from the Bronx, New York. He's got a little New York accent but he's also lived in London, Miami, L.A., Virginia, so he's seen a little country. Different cities, different countries and I kind of studied all these different areas. They're places I've actually been to. I got a Euro haircut that's really big in London. My clothing, I dressed him up to be visually different from everybody else. He wasn't a New York Jet or a West Coast Shark. I wanted that element to stand out to the people watching the film.
He's a very innovative character. He always wants to be the leader. He likes to think outside the box. He's always the first person to take the stand and do something. He's a very sensitive guy, probably a mother's boy. He's in touch with his feelings. He's not afraid to be a cheerleader. He's not afraid to dance. He's a guys guy. I think that guys would be like, "Yeah, he's cool he's not a sissy." He also gets along really good with females and other men who are cheerleaders. He's a very fun character. I think a cheerleader has to be that way. A cheerleader has to be someone who's just ready to cheer anyone up, he's got that smile that's just going to light up a room.
What was the process like for you to get prepared for this role? Had you ever done cheerleading before?
Michael Copon: No, absolutely not. We did two weeks of intense bootcamp, cheerleader training. Tony G brought in some cheerleading specialists and he taught us some choreography because he's done the past films. He was great to work with. When you were in his room it was down to business. He made it really feel like bootcamp. We had to run, push-ups, sit-ups, stretch. We worked every minute we could. He was a great coach in a way. It felt like he was a coach as opposed to a movie choreographer. I really, really respect that approach. I think he should get so much credit for the film looking the way it did. This is the first time that the actors actually did all of the stunts. Having him be able to make that happen was really, really impressive. I think that for the actors involved to get that down, was really impressive as well. I'm really glad to work with such a wonderful, great cast.
What for you was the hardest part of doing the movie?
Michael Copon: The hardest thing about the film was to keep the energy going. Any film, take after take, after take, you've got to make it look the best every single time. We did the routines out in the Universal City Walk in the 100 degree weather and 100 percent humidity, and you're still trying to look good on camera (laughs). It's really hard to give it your hundred percent every single time, but we really pushed through it. We really did it and I'm really excited that it looks so good.
What was it like working with director Steve Rash? We're you familiar with his other films like Can't Buy Me Love?
Michael Copon: Yeah, yeah, I'm an oldy, man. I'm an oldy guy at heart. I'm 24 but I still... I do a lot of business. I own a restaurant. I started my first clothing store when I was 19. I always hang out with a lot of elderly men because I like to learn things beyond my years. It always influences me to watch older films, too, because they always talk about these films. I'm like, "I haven't seen that film." Of course I saw Can't Buy Me Love. I actually own it at home. Steve Rash is an amazing director. He actually gave us the ability to do what we wanted as individual actors. If it ever felt like we were going off track, he would redirect us in a way where it never made us feel insecure about our acting. I think that's so important for a director because actors are very sensitive. His vision for the film... I think he nailed the vision on this one.
What do you have coming up next?
Michael Copon: I'm testing for two big films right now. One being, Universal's producing the sequel to the Scorpion King. For the Rock, I'm possibly playing the younger version of him at 19. I'm signed on to a project called Kentucky Fried Horror Show. It's a pretty risque script, it's about a guy that goes around killing people in Kentucky. It's a really good horror script. I am binded to it by my choice, I can back out if I have another film or I can still do it if I have another film. I'm working on my music career. I've been producing music for the past 5 or 6 years. I've got over 100 songs that I've produced and written. Right now, I'm trying to write for other artists and I'm also writing for myself. I'm trying to release my own record independently because a lot of labels like to invest their money anyway, so I'm just waiting for the right film to promote it with.
Other than that, I do a lot of charity work with Shaken Baby Syndrome Alliance, Make a Wish, I do a lot of charity work with them. Like I said, my restaurant, The Hills just shot there. Other than that, I just bought a house in Beverly Hills and I really love real estate and business in general. I love fashion and clothing. I love art in general and I really want to get to a point where I can sit and paint and draw more and sell my paintings. So I'm just focusing on all that.
Bring It on: In It to Win It comes to DVD December 18 from Universal Studios Home Entertainment.