We got to speak to Ashley Greene at New York's Regency Hotel recently. She was in town to plug her new film Skateland, which is set in a small town in Texas circa the early 1980s, and all the kids' extracurricular activities there seem to focus around a roller skating rink. It's a coming of age film with romantic storyline thrown in, but we won't gibe it away. It's a film that any teen can identify that way--and the director Anthony Burns wanted it that way! Go see it when it opens on May 13 (for more info, go to skatelandmovie.com)!
In Part One of our interview, we mainly talk to Ashley about Skateland, including the cool 80s soundtrack and the retro clothes and hairstyles she had to wear--but we talk aboutBreaking Dawn Pt. 1, other upcoming projects and her prom dress charity in Part 2 of our exclusive interview!
Q: Does it feel like a long time since this movie has supposed to have been out? Are you excited about it?
AG: I am excited about it, yeah. It has been a long time coming, but I'm very excited that it's finally coming out. I didn't get to go to Sundance. I was bummed. But, yeah, of course I'm really excited about anything that happens with it. It was a passion film for all of us, and so to see anything happen is very exciting.
Q: What was it about the script that really attracted you to it?
AG: I think that we've all gone through having to make the transition from adolescence to adulthood and we've all kind of gone through loss and love and hurt and kind of having to grow up and let go of the past and adapt to the future. So it was kind of something that instantly related to and Michelle Burkham in particular is a very…she's a really strong character. She still has vulnerability to her and relatability, but she's very strong, very level headed and kind of a go getter, a no nonsense character. As a female that's something that really attracted me.
Q: How close are you to that?
AG: Pretty close. I'm actually pretty close to her.
Q: Now you grew up in Jacksonville, Florida?
Q: So, was Clark or Orange county, Florida similar to East Texas in terms of growing up?
AG: I definitely went to roller skating and ice skating rinks. Jacksonville, it keeps growing, but growing up there was a little southern, a little redneck. It had kind of a small town mentality. So I could definitely relate to it. I wouldn't say that it was exactly as small as what we were dealing with in Skateland, but there was a little bit of relatability, I guess.
Q: How did you like all the '80's details in the film, particular your hair and costumes?
AG: They were very fun, certainly a departure from anything I've ever known. I'm very I think simple in my fashion, my hair and makeup and all of that stuff. I mean, it was fun. I looked exactly like my mother which was the funny part. I sent my mom pictures and her and my dad were like, 'This is crazy and uncanny.' So it was fun to be able to do. Honestly, when else am I going to be able to wear blue eye shadow.
Q: Your character is the kind of music aficionado in this movie. What kinds of music did you end up appreciating and liking as a result of this movie?
AG: As much as I hate to admit I didn't really know who The Cure was. I know, I know, but I do now. I do now. The director made me a compilation. I think that I had twelve CD's of '80's music. So The Cure was definitely one. I think Joy Division was another big one that I kind of now have an appreciation for. But I was sadly not well versed in '80's music before I did the film.
Q: It wasn't the Totally '80's compilation set was it?
AG: No, it wasn't. It was a bunch of burned CD's.
Q: In what ways was Michelle, your character, like you and in what ways do you think you're different from her?
AG: I'm definitely hardheaded and I think of myself as a strong girl. I'm kind of no nonsense as well. I'm driven. Right out of high school I moved to L.A. to kind of pursue my dreams and do what I wanted to do, and of course had the plan and path to go to college like everyone else and then decided that if I didn't do this I was going to regret it. So I kind of bit the bullet and did it. I think there's a lot of similarity there. I think differences are probably how much she's into music. I don't know that I would've had as much patience as she did with Ritchie Wheeler. I think that might not be one of my strong points. So that's kind of a difference between she and I.
Q: Can you talk about working with Shiloh Fernandez? You two have great chemistry in the film.
AG: It was really, really fun working with Shiloh. It was fun and easy. I kind of knew from the chemistry read that it was going to be great and easy from the second that we started bantering and working back and forth. We butted heads a few times on set, but I actually have an appreciation for that because we're both artists and I think that we both, in the same scene, sometimes have different views on our characters and what we would do. I actually really appreciated that because we'd butt heads and then we'd come to an understanding and go from there. I think that we actually learned some things about ourselves and our characters in the process, but he's still a very close friend of mine and it was a really positive thing that I took out of the film.
Q: Are you familiar with movies like this, such as American Graffiti or Dazed And Confused?
AG: Definitely Dazed And Confused I've seen. I think that's the only one. I wasn't a well versed '80's girl.
Q: Did you look any other '80's movies, any teen comedies?
AG: No, I didn't really. The thing with this one, like, there's a lot of films where I'll do research on things, but this was more something that I sat down and talked to Anthony [Burns] and they did a fantastic job, I think, of really capturing the essence of it with the hair and makeup and the music and the set dressing and stuff like that. But for some reason I didn't feel like I needed to watch those films to kind of grasp the things that we were trying to capture with the film because I think the themes are so universal and I think the themes are something that are undying and everyone is always going to go through for the rest of time. So I didn't really think that I had to do so much research to kind of capture those things.
Q: After doing an '80's film did it make you think of current trends and styles, maybe look at them in a different way, that maybe ten or twenty years from now we might look back and think, "Why was my hair so big"?
AG: No. I think the '80's was a time when it was very extreme because…you never know. I'm sure that my kids are going to look back and say, "Way to go, Mom. What were you wearing?" Unfortunately mine is captured on the internet for the rest of eternity, any kind of fashion mistakes that I make. So I'm sure that they'll say something, but the funny thing that I always see is that we went through a stint, like the '80's are kind of reintroducing themselves into our fashion. Fashion always goes back around. You always see things come back around. So that's not too surprising.
Q: There are some parallels to the early '80's and the economic hard times to what we're going through now. In the film Skateland was closing. It wasn't really referred to in the film outright, but did you talk about that with the director at all?
AG: Yeah, definitely. I think you definitely had a sense of a little bit of a depression. We actually didn't really address the subject a lot and talk about it a lot, but you definitely see it I think in the Wheeler family and with Skateland closing. But, yeah, it really wasn't something that we touched on.
Photo: Anne Raso
Q: At what point did you film Skateland in the Twilight series? Was it before or after the second one?
AG: It was before, right before New Moon. It was a while ago. This is something that I filmed like two years ago.
Q: The after-effects of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan temporarily halted filming of "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn" in Canada’s Vancouver area. What’s the latest update on the filming?
AG: Everything kind of got turned upside down and inside out. We got the least of the brunt of things. We have to be thankful for that. But really, it’s more about that we had to pick up and move to a different location and switch scenes around, but we are certainly moving forward and carrying on. It’s not really going to affect the film too harshly.
Q: Do you have any comment on the disasters that have hit Japan?
AG: I’ve certainly voiced my opinion — as have a lot of my other friends — about raising money for Japan and being with them and praying for them, because I think it’s something unpredictable and horrible and unexpected and really unfortunate and heartbreaking. I certainly send out my prayers and my thoughts to the people and to their loved ones and lost ones. And hopefully, we as Americans are going to do everything we can to help them rebuild.
Q: Did you and Shiloh ever get a chance to talk about working with Catherine Hardwicke, even though he made Little Red Riding Hood long after this film, what she was like?
AG: Yeah. Shiloh was actually one of the frontrunners for Twilight and so whenever we were doing Skateland we certainly had discussions about her and I think that we kind of have the same opinion on her, that she's just fantastic. She's wild and crazy and eccentric and very fun to work with. He kind of after the Twilight process remained friends and in contact with Catherine and I know that she really did like Shiloh for the film and he didn't just quite fit. So I think it's really cool that it did come back around and that he was able to work with her on Red Riding Hood.
Q: Have you seen the film?
AG: I haven't seen it, no. I really want to. I mean, it looks very cool and beautiful. I'm going to see it, absolutely, and kind of support him. I'm very excited for him that he finally got to get out there and do something.
Q: What about working with a writer/director on this film. Does it make it easier when you have questions on the film, working with Anthony Burns on this?
AG: Definitely. He kind of had all the answers and because it was kind of based on their adolescence and they grew up in this small town. Some of these characters, the character that I played is actually a person that exists that they know, who I met while I was filming Skateland. So, yeah, that's definitely helpful and they know everything.
Q: What did you think about those skates? You probably think of in line skates.
AG: I have a vast appreciation for anyone who can do that because I was terrified. I actually didn't have to end up doing it because Michelle was more music based than roller rink based, but Shiloh had to learn and I give him props because I would just bust my butt and kill myself. So I lucked out in that part.
Q: Is there anything that you learned about yourself while you working on this character during the film, something that you took away?
AG: I think I've learned that I will always continue to keep learning about myself and everyone is always changing. It's so funny, I still have the same morals and values and I think foundation of who I was growing up, when I was in Jacksonville, Florida, but it's just so funny to me that I'm such a different person than I was from seventeen to twenty one and from twenty one to twenty four. And I'm sure from twenty four to twenty nine I'll be completely different because you live and you learn and experiences affect you. I think you kind of grow as a person.
Q: What advice would you have given to yourself back then?
AG: It's not the end of the world. That would be my advice for everything. Everything is the end of the world and parents know nothing.