Q&A Session with Odette Yusman for “You Again” (J!-ENT Interviews and Articles)
February 3, 2011 by J!-ENT
Odette Yustman plays a former high school bully who is reunited with the girl she tormented in her teens—played by Kristen Bell—when she becomes engaged to her brother. When the two women meet for the wedding celebrations, emotions run high and chaos ensues with hilarious consequences.
Also starring in this impressive cast are Sigourney Weaver and Jamie Lee Curtis who play women who were rivals themselves, years ago. The raucous comedy was directed by Andy Fickman.
With the upcoming release of “You Again” on Blu-ray and DVD on Feb. 8th, J!-ENT will feature a Q&A with the cast of “You Again” and director Andy Fickman. Our first interview was with protagonist Kristen Bell, our second interview is with Odette Yusman.
Q: How much fun was it playing the mean girl?
A: “It was so much fun. I’ve never been able to play a real character before now, all of my other roles have been more like me. I could see myself in a lot of the other roles that I’ve played, but with this part I really did have to dig deep and I drew inspiration from some mean girls in high school. (laughs). It was very different and very challenging.”
Q: Were you actually bullied in high school?
A: “I was bullied by one particular girl. I don’t know why. I think she had to make other people feel bad in order to feel better about herself. I think ultimately she was probably insecure and she had a lot of things to deal with and she just threw it on other people because it was easier to do that, but let me tell you, I still think about that.”
Q: Has it affected you as you’ve grown up?
A: “Sure and that’s why I think a lot of people are going to be able to relate to this movie. Even Betty White’s character confronts the person who once bullied her. I was talking to my grandmother and I asked her: ‘did you ever have anybody that bullied you?’ And she said, ‘yes’ and she named the girl. You never forget about these women who were horrible.”
Q: Why were you bullied? Was it jealousy, do you think, because you are so pretty?
A: “No people could pick on me for a lot of reasons. I was really, really skinny, and when all the girls were starting to get their curves and look more like a woman, I had nothing. It was not happening. It never really happened but that’s okay now because I’m more confident and I know that it doesn’t matter. But girls are just at that age when they are bullies, at least some of them!”
Q: What did the main bully say?
A: “She said, ‘you haven’t developed. Oh, you don’t have any boobs.’ She would say things in front of a boy that you like or you have a crush on and that’s the worst feeling. You go home and you are thinking: ‘oh, man, he’s never going to talk to me now.’ It was upsetting.”
Q: Have you ever met up with her since school?
A: “No but maybe I will. The last time I saw her she was still mean and I thought ‘wow, after years how can she still be mean?’ I went to a different school and then I saw her again and she was still catty and I thought ‘wow, this girl’s never going to change’ so maybe now I will say to her: ‘did you see that movie that I was in?’ (laughs) Would I forgive her? I definitely don’t forget, but I do forgive. I think that everybody deserves a second chance, so if my high school bully would apologize, I would accept that apology.’”
Q: Can you talk about working with Kristen Bell?
A: “It was so much fun. Kristen is a riot. She was my partner in crime during the movie and we were willing to have a great time and go there and be as mean to each other on screen as we could and poke fun at each other and then just be really great friends after shooting. That’s a testament to who Kristen is as a woman. She’s just lovely and great and really kind of perfect. I always say if she could rule the world, the world may be a better place. I think she’s very wise.”
Q: Do you think the competitiveness between girls—like your two characters—continues in later life, for example in Hollywood?
A: “It’s interesting, yes there’s a lot of competition in this town. I feel like all the prom queens and all of the most popular girls end up in Hollywood, and that’s just chaotic and it’s difficult. There’s always a girl who’s more prepared than you who seems to have ‘the look’, but you have to go into auditions knowing that you are confident and that you have something to bring to the table yourself. If not, you’ll go crazy in this town. The rejection is so ridiculous because you walk into a room and you see so many beautiful women, and you think that they’re probably better for the role and you get insecure. But at the end of the day what’s meant to be is meant to be and if a role’s going to be yours, then it’s going to be yours. I wanted this role so badly and I knew the only thing I could do was work hard, be prepared and be professional.”
Q: Why did you want this one so badly?
A: “I think because it hit home. First of all, it was so well written and it’s so relatable. I had that experience in high school and also I loved that this character was able to redeem herself, so there was a little bit of hope and it’s a great family story too. It is a comedy, which I haven’t done before and I really did want to do a romantic comedy. I loved it, now I just want to do more. So hopefully this will open more doors for me.”
Q: Can you talk about working with Sigourney Weaver and Jamie Lee Curtis?
A: “It was incredibly intimidating at first. I was acting with Jamie Lee Curtis and Sigourney Weaver, I mean, come on—they’re huge stars. You hear that some big stars are big-time divas and they’re not so nice, and then you hear about the ones that are really great and really wonderful. I lucked out. They were both great to work with and easy and lovely. They challenge you as well and they make you better, and they’re so generous, so giving and helpful.”
Q: Did you get any advice from them or was there anything specific? Were they role models of yours?
A: “They became role models of mine. Working with them was great because I found that they are normal people. Jamie’s a great mother and she would always give me the advice to be myself and to know that there is going to come a time when I will want to have a family. There was a lot of family talk with Jamie and Sigourney. Jamie told me that I will be pressed to make choices about the direction of my career at some point: should I do this film or that one? And she said you’re just going to know. I told her about my fears of doing comedy and she said ‘don’t push it. Don’t try to be funny, just be who you are and you will be funny.’ So that’s good advice.”
Q: You look fantastic, do you work out a lot?
A: “I hate working out. I despise the gym. I really, really do, so I have to find a balance with exercise. Hiking with my dog is the best way for me to do that while real estate browsing, so I will go up in the canyons and look at the beautiful houses. That way I get to dream while I work out, so I am sort of tricking myself.”
Q: What about eating?
A: “I really try to eat well. I’m very lucky in the sense that my parents started gaining weight in their late thirties and so I feel like I have a couple of years to just really go for it and eat a lot. I come from a big Cuban family so I cook a lot of Cuban food, but I try to eat a lot of veggies and greens. I do get a hamburger once in a while though.”
Q: You’re Cuban, are you fluent in Spanish?
A: “Yes, I’m fluent in Spanish and I recently went on an audition that was all in Spanish, and that was really fun and I would love to eventually do a movie in Spanish.”
Q: Do you do any modeling? You have a lovely figure.
A: “I did for a little bit but nothing much to talk about. Some department-store ads here and there but it wasn’t my thing. It wasn’t very challenging, and I really am always up for a challenge even though it’s terrifying and I cause myself so much stress and anxiety, but I love it at the same time.”
Q: What were the challenges in this film? It’s quite physical, what was it like to do all the physical comedy?
A: “Yes it definitely was physical but I don’t think that was the most challenging thing for me. I think the challenge lay in playing a character who had so many layers and really hit so many different emotions. I just wanted to make her vulnerable enough so that the audience can sympathize with her enough to marry Marni’s brother, because if not the story wouldn’t work. She has to have redeeming qualities, and that was a big thing for me. It was a big challenge and the comedy aspect of it all is just scary.”
Q: What was it like working with the director Andy Fickman, he seems very upbeat and energetic?
A: “Oh, he was so amazing and he made this experience great for me because he created a safe zone. He stopped the comedy being so scary for me, which was huge because I kept saying: ‘I’m not funny. I’m not funny. I can’t do this. I can’t do this’ and Andy let me play and gave me the chance to be this interesting person and to create my own character. Also Andy’s such a character. I mean, he’s just so much fun to work with.”
Q: Do you have any interesting projects coming up?
A: “I just did a movie called THE DOUBLE with Richard Gere and Topher Grace which was very exciting. Topher is a friend so that was fun. I got to play his wife in the movie and my character has a five-year-old kid and a baby, and I got to play mom. It was cool.”
Q: Did you always want to act? As a kid was it a passion or a dream?
A: “I started when I was really young, four years old, so it was always on my radar. My parents thought I was really introverted as a kid and so a family friend was doing commercials and said ‘let’s just see if she opens up doing some acting, maybe she will meet some friends, whatever.’ I really did have a great time and my parents said ‘we will never force you, you do it if you want to, we just thought it might be fun for you.’ I said ‘you know what, I’ll keep trying this.’ And then I really grew a passion for acting and I started watching movies to learn more about acting. When I turned 19 I was supposed to study business and finance but decided instead to try acting and make a go of it, so that’s what I did. I moved out from home and that was terrifying because I left my family. They are about an hour-and-a-half away so it’s not so bad, but I did it and I’ve been really lucky.”
Q: Were there any tough times?
A: “I was lucky enough that I had saved money from the acting jobs when I was younger so I had a little bit of a cushion when I came out here to L.A. which is nice. Not many people have that. I started auditioning and I got my first role about 6 or 7 months into moving to L.A., which was on a TV show called SOUTH BEACH. I learned a lot from it, and it was a great experience, and after that the show got canceled and I went on auditions and did a show called OCTOBER ROAD, and that was I think the job that opened the most doors for me. I was able to meet so many people and work with such great actors and yeah, here I am sitting here with you right now which is really cool. I am very happy.”
You Again on DVD and Blu-ray February 8th!
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