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Michelle Trachtenberg Discusses "Ice Princess"

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Michelle Trachtenberg and Trevor Blumas Photo

Michelle Trachtenberg and Trevor Blumas in "Ice Princess"

© Walt Disney Pictures
Michelle Trachtenberg stars as a math whiz who decides to take on the world of competitive ice skating in the Disney comedy, "Ice Princess," co-starring Kim Cattrall, Hayden Panettiere, and Trevor Blumas.

Trachtenberg gained a following playing Sarah Michelle Gellar's younger sister in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." Moving on to feature films, Trachtenberg's ready to put "Buffy" behind her and spread her wings.

INTERVIEW WITH MICHELLE TRACHTENBERG ('Casey'):

What kind of training did you do to get ready for this role?
…I trained extremely hard for the movie. When we weren’t shooting, I was working, training five hours a day, five days a week, and I had ballet every other day. I was constantly on the ice. And then when we were shooting, I was working seven days a week — because five days of shooting and then on the weekends doing all the choreography, learning whatnot, and I was working 20-22 hour days because I was one of the only adults on the movie outside of Joan [Cusack] and Kim [Cattrall]. And everyone else was pretty much a minor, so after 10 hours they went home and I was still there on ice skates, working my way around.

What’s harder – skating or acting?
Skating, by far. It’s cold and the skirts are short. I thought, “Okay, I do a bikini scene. I’m done, that’s it, that’s my sex scene,” you know? But you know you have the little skirts and everything. It’s an adjustment, but the tights are really thick. So you have the good skating tights on, which is great.

Did you ever get hurt?
I did. I tore a couple of ligaments, dislocated knee or so, did a little bit of here and there. It sounds really bad, but those are all things that happen to athletes. I mean, I’m very lucky because I didn’t get any stress fractures, which is one of the hugest things.

I’d never trained to be an ice skater before. When I was 8 or 9, I was like, “Oh, I want to be an ice skater.” And I took one lesson and it was like, “Heh, heh…no. I’ll stick to acting, thank you.” But I was obsessed with Michelle Kwan and everything was so pretty and Oksana Baiul. They were just perfect. And then when Disney came to me with this movie, I was like, “Okay! I can ice skate. No problem. I’m done. I did it at a party once.” They were like, “Right. So spiral.” Which is you’re on one leg and you have one leg completely behind you. And it’s really cool because one day my coach came up to me and she said, “If you had started this when you were five years old, you'd be able to do those double axles and everything.” So I was sort of natural at it, which was kind of fun.

What were you able to do by the end of filming?
I do waltz jumps and I can land a single toe loop, which was the day I think literally the entire ice rink started cheering. It wasn’t like the most perfect form but my toe pick stuck in the ice which was all I wanted. But I do a lot of the party tricks like the spirals and crossovers. But my big thing, which none of my doubles could do — I had a stunt double who’d do all the falls and one that would do the double triple whatevers — no one could do an outside edge spread-eagle, which is basically your feet are like this in one line and you’re leaning back on the outside edge and going around on a curve. Not even a lot of skaters who are Olympic levels can do that because it depends on how your body’s [shaped]. So whenever they needed that, there’s one shot in the movie where it starts out on my feet and just moves up and it’s just across the entire rink. I’m very proud of that shot.

You mentioned that you admired Michelle Kwan when you were younger. What was it like to finally meet her?
Amazing. It was so cool. I was just like the biggest nerd. It was like, “You’re Michelle Kwan.” That was literally my first thing. …She was so cool and so nice, and she was just supposed to do a cameo in the movie. We had B-roll that day and someone asked her if she would get on the ice with me. We all expected Michelle Kwan to be like, “Well, no, I’m sorry.” But she was like, “Okay.” She got on the ice with me, skated around.

First of all, to see her on the ice is like I would imagine watching Sean Penn or Dustin Hoffman work. It’s just so effortless and brilliant. And she turned around to me and she’s like, “You’re good. You’re a natural for what time you’ve had and what you’ve accomplished. I’m impressed.” So that, to me, that was the utmost compliment. She’s a really cool girl.

Is there a legimate basis for your character’s theories of physics relating to ice skating?
Oh, every theory that I say in the movie, every physic shout out is all correct. In fact, we shot one scene where I say m x a = m mass and all that stuff, and we mixed up a letter. So there’s one shot where you’re like, “Why are we on the back of her head?” Because we looped in the right term, because we didn’t want to teach any kids wrong.

PAGE 2: On a "Buffy" Movie, Her Boyfriend, and "Mysterious Skin"

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