Emma Roberts established herself as something of a teen icon in her starring role on Nickelodeon’s Unfabulous, but the young actress has been hobnobbbing with celebrities since the day she was born. Her father Eric has had a fruitful Hollywood career spanning more than three decades, and she even spent time on set with her superstar aunt Julia during the prime of her “America’s Sweetheart” days. Lately, Roberts has been stepping away from children’s entertainment like Nancy Drew and Hotel for Dogs to work on projects that showcase more of her range and allow her to play more mature roles.
This week, she goes one step further, starring in the bloody fourth installment of Wes Craven’s Scream franchise, which not only reunites original cast members Neve Campbell, David Arquette, and Courteney Cox, but also brings Kevin Williamson back on board as writer. Emma recently sat down with RT to give us her Five Favorite Films and to chat about working with Wes Craven, breaking out of her youthful image, and exploring her extracurricular interests. Read on for the full interview!
Beetlejuice (1988, 81% Tomatometer)
Since Scream‘s a scary movie, I’ll tell you a scary-ish movie favorite, which is Beetlejuice, because I love the costumes. I’m obsessed with Geena Davis and Winona Ryder, which brings me to my next favorite…
Girl, Interrupted (1999, 54% Tomatometer)
Girl, Interrupted. I love the book that it’s based on; it’s one of my favorites. It’s really short, and I just think that it’s a beautiful story. I love everyone in it. I loved Brittany Murphy, I loved Angelina Jolie, Winona Ryder. So that’s one of my favorites.
My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997, 71% Tomatometer)
It’s cheesy because my aunt’s in it, but My Best Friend’s Wedding is one of my favorite comedies. I just think it’s so funny. I could watch it five million times.
Clueless (1995, 83% Tomatometer)
My guilty pleasure would be Clueless. It was just such a “my generation” type of movie, so I loved that.
Bowfinger (1999, 80% Tomatometer)
And then, Bowfinger. I love Steve Martin. I’m obsessed with Steve Martin, so that’s one of my favorites.
Next, Roberts talks about working with Wes Craven and growing up on set with her aunt Julia.
RT: You’ve had a large variety of roles you’ve taken on since your Nickelodeon show Unfabulous, and it seems like you’re making an effort to branch out. Was Scream, a gory R-rated horror film, something you actively sought out?
Emma Roberts: It was one of those things that just came out of nowhere, and I met with Wes [Craven], and he was like, “We want you to read, so come in and audition.” I auditioned for him over Skype, and I found out later that day that I got the part. And I auditioned literally with sneakers on and blonde hair, and he was like, “You’re too short; you need to wear lifts in your shoes. And you need to dye your hair black.” I was like, “Whatever you want. Okay.” So I really respect that he has an imagination, because most people would just kind of be like, “Oh, no, she’s blonde and short.”
So he had a specific vision for what your character would look like.
Definitely, yeah. I think we wanted her to be reminiscent of Neve [Campbell] in the first one, because my character is sort of the new Neve.
Speaking of the earlier films, knowing that the franchise holds sort of a special place for horror fans, were you intimidated at all by the idea of being handed that torch to run with?
I mean, I think that it was one of those things where I’m so confident that it’s a good movie — like, I’m not just doing it to work; it is a good movie — that I think the fans are going to love it. And I think the younger people, around my age, are going to have this new generation to kind of attach onto and love, and feel the way the older fans felt about Neve, Dave [Arquette], and Courteney [Cox]. So I think there’s kind of a place for everyone, as far as an audience to see this movie. Like boy, girl, young, old, whether you know about the franchise, whether you know nothing about the franchise. I think if you want to go in and have a good time, you’re going to see the movie.
Of course, yes, I saw all of the movies. And they’re scary! It’s scary because I think they’re the most real horror franchise of anything. Like Final Destination: scary, but not likely. Scream: scary, and kind of likely. Well, maybe not “likely,” but “more likely than others.”
What was it like working with a horror icon like Wes Craven?
He was one of the reasons I wanted to do the movie. He’s so smart, and he’s good at what he does. I just think he’s a really amazing director, and he really pulls out a performance. I really respect him and I’d love to work with him again.
Did you do any of your own stunts in the movie?
Not really. I definitely trained a little bit and did a couple of things, but for the most part, because of the time crunch, you just had to allow other people to do it. I think if I ever did another movie with this many stunts, I’d love to learn how to do everything on my own. But when you’re on a time crunch you kind of have to let the professionals do it.
Has it been a difficult transition for you at all, going from being a teen icon to taking on more mature roles in things like Scream and Lymelife?
I think people definitely see me as younger than I am, so that’s been kind of difficult to break out of the mold of… I am 20; I’m not 16. But at the same time, I think I’ve done a good transition of going from Nancy Drew to this, so I’m really happy with that. I think this is definitely going to be a stepping stone to more mature roles.
Probably subconsciously. I mean, I would make friends with everyone, I would get my hair and makeup done, I’d try on all the outfits, and my mother would have to drive me off set and be like, “Emma, you’re seven. It’s two in the morning. You need to go home.”
I know you have multiple interests and talents — you’re into fashion, and you did some singing as well. So what made you decide that acting was what you wanted to focus on?
You know, it just kept happening. Like, I just kept booking things. I never really had time to think about it. The past six months are the longest time I’ve had off in two years. So for me, it’s like now I’ve had a calm, and now I’ve figured things out, and I do want to do this, and I love it. But before, it was like, I just kept doing things, and I kept doing things that I loved, and I kept booking things, and that was kind of how it went. So yeah, it is something that I love to do and want to do.
Do you have plans to go back and do something in fashion or music?
I’d love to do something in fashion. Singing, I think that… I don’t think you can do both [singing and acting]. People do, but it doesn’t work, and I think that you need to pick one. So, for me, I would love to do something like what Gwyneth Paltrow did with Country Strong, like singing in a movie, but I would never release an album like, The Emma Roberts Band. That’s kind of ridiculous. I have a fantasy to start a band like the Spice Girls with all my friends, but that might have to be put on the backburner for a while.
Scream 4 opens this weekend in the US.