The big question in casting Oliver James as Hilary's onscreen love interest was whether or not he should speak with an English accent. Duff herself campaigned for Oliver to keep his accent intact. "I loved Olivers accent and thought it would be really cool and somewhat mysterious for his character to be from another country. I fought really hard to keep his character English and was so happy when the producers decided to go that way."
INTERVIEW WITH OLIVER JAMES ('Jay'):
This is a pretty big movie for you.
Yeah, it is. It was exciting when the opportunity to came along. I mean, how many young actors get the chance to do that?
But youre also musically inclined. Is that part of the reason you got the role?
I think so. I think there are sort of natural elements in me that sort of lead themselves to the role. But yeah, Id agree with you on that one. Id say there were parts of me that were brought to the role, but theres also differences there that I had to look into and characterize.
What instruments are you really good at?
I didnt play the guitar until What a Girl Wants. I picked it up and started learning, and then sort of left it for a bit. Then Raise Your Voice came along and I started doing it again. Getting blisters on my hands and just practicing and practicing. I used to play the drums, but Im primarily a singer actually.
Who do you sound like?
I guess, Ive heard people tell me I sound like Paul Young. But then Ive heard Aaron Neville Ive heard everything. People tell me I sound like so many different people, I have no idea. Me, I guess, is the best answer to that one.
What did you find out about Hilary Duff that you didnt know before?
You mean after shooting as compared to before? I think I just got a good sense of who she was as a person. But I think what really stood out to me was her [popularity], how famous she is in this country. I had no idea. I knew that shed done Lizzie McGuire and I knew that shed done Agent Cody Banks. And Cheaper by the Dozen was coming out. And I knew that she had a music career, but I wasnt that aware really of how huge she was until we started seeing each other. There was a concert that we went to Im friends with the music supervisor who worked on A Cinderella Story and it was the Saturday night before I started shooting with Hilary on a Monday. I went to the concert and saw these young, screaming fans and that really hit home how popular she was then. And then through the movie, I saw that Hilary had a bodyguard and Ive never come across that before. In answer to your question, I think her status within this country was what stood out to me as being something I knew about her after that I didnt know before.
Is her music the type of music you're into?
Not particularly. That doesnt mean to say that I dont respect it and understand how and why its so commercial. But no, its not the sort of stuff that I listen to.
Howd you get hooked up with this movie?
I originally auditioned for Kiwi. I read the script it was really weird I read the script and I was like, Im not sure if I want to because Id really like to play Jay. I kind of see myself as Jay. They were like, Just go in. Its great practice for your auditions. Just do your thing. I came out and went home for Christmas and it was after Christmas that whoever was playing the role fell out. And they said, We want you to come back in and audition for Jay. So I flew over from England and there were four other guys in the room, all of whom I sort of knew or recognized from their work. I went in there and I just did my best. I actually got the job playing an American. I mean, I won the part as an American. It was sort of a producers and the directors decision that it would be more viable if I were to be more English. It seems to be a trend nowadays.
What kind of reaction do you get from your friends back home after doing these movies?
I guess the movies Ive done have been more popular over here, than they have been in Europe. I guess our industry isnt as big. I think in America theres a lot more scoop for movies, and theres a lot more cinema/theater culture. But theyre really happy for me. A lot of them are actors so its great that theyre so supportive of me.