Last week I participated in a teleconference with Kip Pardue and Nora Zehetner about their roles in ABC Family’s modern fairy tale, Princess, which premieres this Sunday, April 20th, at 8PM on ABC Family. Then, this week, I got a screener of the movie in the mail and promptly sat down to watch it. Because I’m predictable that way.
I watch a few different shows on ABC Family so I’ve been seeing the promos for this movie for a couple of weeks now. I love fair tales and Disney princesses so it piqued my interest. Needless to say when I got offered the chance for some press info about it, I was all over it! Which is why I did a little happy dance when I came home to the screener in my mailbox.
I wasn’t disappointed either. I mean, I won’t lie, the movie’s not an instant classic. Years from now girls won’t look back and remember wanting to be Princess Ithaca (though they may remember wanting Ithaca’s wardrobe). But instant classic or not, the movie is still fun and beautiful and guaranteed to make you smile. What more could you ask for on a Sunday evening?
This fairy tale romance begins with our modern hero, William, lost and unsure of his path in life. Then he meets Ithaca at her castle and is so enchanted by her that he lets her believe he is someone else just to get close to her. As he gets entangled in her mysterious quest, we realize he’s not just helping Ithaca find the person she needs but also himself. Along the way we meet just the type of characters you’d expect to meet in fairy tales. Plus, courtesy of Mona May, Enchanted’s costume designer, Ithaca’s really got some beautiful dresses that made me wish I actually liked to wear dresses (and, you know, had her figure!!). The yellow dress seen in the photo the right is just one of the many we see throughout the movie.
Most people will probably recognize Kip Pardue (William) from his role in Remember the Titans but I actually remember him from a small six-episode arc last year on ER. I liked him in that role and was quite impressed with how articulate and down-to-earth (and funny!) he was during our teleconference which is why I was a little surprised that I didn’t really love him as William. It’s possible that it was just the role itself I didn’t love but I didn’t find William nearly as charming as Kip.
Nora Zehetner (Ithaca), on the other hand, was made to play a princess. I adored her as Laney Hart on Everwood and enjoyed her as the persuasive Eden on Heroes. You’d think I’d have known I was going to like her in this role, right? And, yet, I was surprised by just how enchanting I found her here. There was just this aura around her that was perfect for the role.
But enough of my opinions, let’s find out what it was like to actually film the movie. Here are a few excerpts from the teleconference with Kip and Nora:
Given the mythological creatures in the movie, was there a lot of visual FX in this movie intermingled with the real acting?
KIP: There is quite a bit of visual effects, and that was something that when you see the movie you’ll be kind of blown away at the amount of personality and life that all of the visual effects have in this film for such a small budget, I think. When you read something like this as an actor you kind of wonder what will be around you and how they’re going to fill in these gaps. And I think that the team that ABC Family and Radium put together to make the visual effects is just – they did a fantastic job. And some of these creatures will blow your mind; I mean they’re really fantastic.
I think Nora and I both, and I guess she can say this too, had a tough time – there’s a lot of green screen in…
NORA: Acting with golf balls.
KIP: Yes, exactly. Tennis balls on the end of sticks.
NORA: Yes, tennis balls, right.
KIP: It’s a little bit tough to have to use your imagination so vividly, I think. But the final product is really quite amazing.
What was the most challenging part about these roles for you?
NORA: For me it was just trying to balance playing this princess with the fact that it is kind of set in modern day and how far do you take that. And it was just completely different than anything I’ve ever done, which was really fun for me. And I guess aside from that it was figuring out how to move in these enormous dresses and acting with tennis balls. So luckily I got to be knocked out for half of that, Kip got more of that than me.
KIP: For me it was definitely the visual effects elements of this movie were pretty strenuous. I mean there’s a fight towards the end of the movie where my character has to be picked up by a three-headed dragon, which is called a hydra. And the hydra, of course, wasn’t there on the day that we shot, I guess he was booked or something, so that was a bit of a strain. Any time you’re doing anything against that much green screen it becomes a bit of a lesson in frustration, I think, as an actor. I mean you have to hope that they’re going to make you look reasonable.
Any funny anecdotes or stories from the set?
KIP: I’m sure Nora will embarrass me about the dancing situation.
NORA: No, I wasn’t going to. I was going to let you go for it. Well actually we went to a dance lesson, or dance rehearsal, because there is this big choreographed dancing, which was delightful for me, I was thrilled, because I took dance when I was younger, ballet. And so just to be in a dance studio was really fun. Kip was not as pleased to spend the day in a rehearsal studio learning ballroom dancing. And I had my hoop-skirt inside out, is what I realized happened, so it didn’t really flow properly. So I was constantly tripping in rehearsal until somebody told me I had it inside out, and I felt pretty silly.
KIP: Yes, which is a great way to start … as it is, I’m stepping on Nora’s feet and then on Nora’s dress.
NORA: I didn’t say that. I said I was tripping on myself.
KIP: I know. But I’m just saying, I’m stepping on…
NORA: He actually did it, he was tripping on my skirt.
KIP: I’m tripping on her skirt even if it’s the right way. So when it’s the wrong way I trip on it even more. And Nora is a very delicate flower and I’m quite big and lumbering and my feet tend to get in the way of her. She’s very small and sweet and beautiful looking and I’m just this kind of lumbering soul. But you know what, it actually looks really great and I’m glad that I went through the humiliation of having to dance.
How does it feel to basically get to play a part in a Disney fairy tale?
NORA: It was wonderful for me. I had so much fun. When they sent me the script and it was called it Princess, I was like, please let it be about a real princess. And I read it and it was and I was so excited and I immediately kind of got thrown into this series of fittings where they were building all these dresses on me. And it was just kind of an amazing thing to go into my trailer in the morning in sweats and come out in these gowns with tiaras and masses of hair and it was kind of a fairy tale, a little girl’s dream. It was lovely.
KIP: I think, for sure, Nora kind of – I mean she would walk on the set and you just knew that these are going to end up in Toys ‘R Us’s across the country, and I mean Disney has a new kind of iconic figure. She looked just like something out of a cartoon, and it was really fun to watch and I’m glad that I got to be a part of that.
What are your feelings are toward sci-fi and fantasy are in general, like do you have any favorite movies, TV shows or books that you follow in sci-fi or fantasy?
NORA: I love Harry Potter. I read all of them. I went home for Christmas one year and I was like, what’s this Harry Potter all about and I bought one of them and read it in a couple of hours and then had to go and buy the whole series. Like on Christmas Day I was trying to find a store that was open that sold Harry Potter books, so that I could complete the series. And I didn’t talk to anybody the whole time I was home. My family probably wasn’t too pleased.
KIP: I’m not a huge sci-fi fan, but at the same time I have a few – you know I think everyone is kind of a fan of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: Space Odyssey and kind of that feeling of – that’s more my vein if I had to pick a science fiction that I would respond to, it would be kind of the pontifications on the future.
NORA: You’re too high-brow. I said Harry Potter.
KIP: I know, I was going to say, I went through a period a couple of years ago with Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, however many years ago that was.
NORA: I love Lord of the Rings.
KIP: When they were both coming out in theaters and I thought, “Man I need to read these.” I got through about 60 pages of Harry Potter and just kind of gave up, sorry. And then Lord of the Rings just didn’t have the same magic as it did when I was 14. I don’t know – and everybody loves Battlestar Galactica and I haven’t gotten into it yet. I feel like maybe that’s a good Netflix thing.
And there you have it. I hope both my quick review and the Q&A with Kip and Nora was helpful and you’ll be tuning into ABC Family this Sunday at 8PM to watch the premiere of Princess, a modern fairy tale! Plus, for those who like the movie, don’t forget to enter our giveaway for the chance to win a Princess poster!