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Amanda Bynes Talks About "What a Girl Wants"
by Rebecca Murray and Fred Topel

Amanda Bynes and Oliver James in "What a Girl Wants"
Photo©Warner Bros. Pictures - All Rights Reserved.

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Warner Bros. Pictures

In the sweet romantic comedy, "What a Girl Wants," Amanda Bynes plays Daphne Reynolds, a girl who seemingly has it all. She has a loving mother, a job, and a shot at getting into college. Despite all that's good in her life, she feels incomplete. Daphne's never had the opportunity to get to know her father and that has left her with the feeling that something important is missing.

Free-spirited and independent, Daphne impulsively decides to learn more about the father she's never known by hopping a plane to London, armed only with an old photograph and her father's name.

Producers needed a vibrant teenager to play the role of 17 year-old Daphne. They found exactly what they were looking for in "What I Like About You's" Amanda Bynes. "She's very bright and has incredible comedic timing. She was only fifteen when we first met with her about this project, and it's rare to find someone of that age with such maturity and talent," said producer Bill Gerber.

Producer Hunt Lowry adds, "Amanda lights up any room she walks into. She's a gifted physical comedienne who radiates the same irreverent charm that instantly endears Daphne to the audience."


How difficult were the pratfalls in the movie? Did you ever get hurt?
I hit my head a lot and fell over a lot. I think they wanted the movie to have some glimmer of clumsiness; I think there's so much more to the movie than that. That's a minute part of it. I think in some of the previews that is magnified as something maybe for the kids, that they would enjoy. There is so much more to the movie than just the pratfalls.

Can you talk about auditioning against Britney Spears for this role?
(Laughs) I got a script and it's really interesting with scripts, because you never really know. It's paper and it could be great or awful. Even scripts that are good could end up not working. Once I read it, it seemed really cute but I didn't finish it. I don't like reading scripts because I'm everywhere, and I have such a short attention span. I thought it was cute but I didn't know if I wanted to do a movie. Then I heard Colin Firth was interested and I was like, "What? He's interested?" I said, "Let me look at that again."

When I found out Colin was doing it I was shocked that he would be near me, let alone do a movie with me. He was amazing. Even better than I thought he would be. He's down to earth and has such a good sense of humor and is so charming and such a lovely guy.

I just thought this is a good thing and [it] would be a good message to give to girls, which is important. I've grown up with kids watching me and as they're growing up, I'm growing up, and hopefully they can get a good message from it.

What did you learn acting-wise from Colin Firth?
There's no exact 'how to' but he's so natural that when he does it - I don't ever see him studying lines - he always brings something to it. He's hard on himself and will do the take 50 times and make sure it's right. Having that type of commitment and stamina is really impressive and [he's] a good role model.

Did you give newcomer Oliver James any tips on acting?
I just said, "Whatever you need," or, "If you need help, you can come to me." I'm not that experienced. This is only my second [film]. He came into it being very open to advice.

What did you learn about British culture during filming?
I learned that it's not as different as we portray it in the film. We try to magnify the difference between Americans and the English. In real life they like the same music and dress the same. It's really much more similar than anyone thinks or [than] how we show it.

What was the most thrilling thing about filming in Europe?
I think as soon as you get off the plane and get in the car, the actual driving on the other side and the driver being the passenger is just weird. It seemed to give me a headache automatically.

I was video taping as we were driving and it's just so beautiful. It is so rich in history and it's fun to be there.

What fun things did you do in London?
It was my first time getting to go somewhere by myself. I would just walk around and go to the park and go shopping. I was centered in Piccadilly, which is close to everything. I just met a lot of really cool people that were on the crew. Everyone was so nice. It was an entirely British crew except for Kelly Preston and I and Dennie [Gordon, director]. I'm so protected in my Nickelodeon bubble and "What I Like About You." It's all pretty much the same people I've worked with and it was pretty protected. Going to another country you're not in your house, you're with people you've never met before, and I think it's definitely a good growing experience.

How is your fashion style similar to the character you play?
I think the 'beginning' character was more similar to me because she's supposed to have street-style from New York. I like stuff that's dark, some solid stuff, jeans and clunky boots.

How about the girlie gowns?
I like that, too. I like the dress-up part. In real life, I'm into sweats and never like that, but I do like to get dressed up - like most girls.

Did you keep any of the clothes?
The one I wanted to keep was the white dress. I thought if I ever get married one day, it would be a big help. [Then] at the end, I had to wear it for so long, it had given me bruises and it wasn't as comfortable.

What's your favorite article of clothing?
Probably zip-up type sweaters. You can put them over anything and you can wear them under jackets. They're warm and can still be cute. Like every other person I like 'Juicy'. I hate to say it because I hate to be so trendy. I'm so into classic, good things. I'm really not into prints. I like solid colors - either black, white, green, pink, whatever. I'm not really into flowers.

Girl movies fell out of favor for a while. What did you watch growing up?
I loved "Clueless." That was one of my favorite movies of all time. When that came out, I was fairly young. It was a more [of a] teenage movie with adult-type stories, but there's something about watching a movie with girl empowerment. It gets a cliché name and it's stupid, but it's really important for girls. I think "Legally Blonde" did that, too, because it was a fun way to feel good about being a girl. I like that message. I don't want to do that forever but I think it was perfect for me at that time.

Do you believe in finding Prince Charming and that there is one guy out there for every girl?
I don't think [there's] necessarily a 'Prince Charming.' I don't know if there is someone for everyone. Every person is so different and I don't think there is an exact match for every person. If you meet someone and they have 20 of the 25 things you want in a person, then you're pretty lucky.

Do you feel you've missed out on a normal high school experience?
I don't feel like I've missed out because I've gotten to go back, and I've never not been in school. Whenever I'm off, I go there. I've always gotten to go for half the year, and I still have my friends. I think I got the best of both worlds. Some people may not have liked this life but for me personally it was exactly the kind of thing I wanted. I feel so happy and lucky I get to do [this] and I wouldn't want to change it.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?
People have a preconceived notion about who I am and it's interesting. It's like picking who you want to win for the Oscars and not seeing the movie. Before you make a statement about someone, get all the information and see everything before you make a judgment. I don't like being compared to anyone or being in a class with someone. I'm a teen actress and therefore I'm competing against Hilary Duff. We're different people like everyone else.

Interview with Kelly Preston - >Page 2

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