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In the same way adult viewers are allowed their drool moments, teenage crushes are indulged in TV and movie releases, too. Who can forget all that hysteria around Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens in the High School Musical franchise? Now, Ross Lynch and Maia Mitchell have stepped up to the plate as Disney’s new teen sensations in Teen Beach Movie. Debashine Thangevelo learns more about the up-and-coming actors…
ROSS LYNCH (Brady)
PLUCKED off the Austin & Ally set, this 17-year-old was only too happy to cross over into movies.
Heck, when you have only one show under your belt and are still at school, you jump at the chance for a lead role in a teen movie.
However, it did take Lynch four or five auditions to bag the part.
The actor recalls: “I was eating a sandwich at a restaurant when they called me with the good news. I remember it clearly. They said: ‘You booked it’. I replied: ‘Sweet, I’m going to Puerto Rico! I’m so ready for this.’”
Belying his youth, Lynch says he can often be found in a rather contemplative state.
Shedding light on the film, he reveals: “The movie is about two teenagers in love. I play one of the teens, Brady, and the girl is called McKenzie (nicknamed Mack).
“It’s a really fun story because Brady and Mack get pulled into a retro movie musical set on the beach where everyone is always breaking into song.”
Interestingly, those tans the two sport in the movie are fake. The make-up team used a bronzer. And all the beach scenes were shot at the governor of Puerto Rico’s holiday home in the small city of Fajardo.
Aside from the movie’s teen romance aspect, the rivalry between the bikers and surfers serves to bolster the storyline.
Fortunately for Brady, he gets to be a part of both worlds.
Lynch laughs: “I honestly can’t decide which is better. But that’s exactly what I love about my character: Brady is a biker and a surfer. That’s the best part for me!”
And he is quite proud of his character’s image of leather jacket and cool retro shades.
But Lynch does admit to co-star Chrissie Fit, who plays biker Chee Chee, stealing the spotlight with her hair.
He explains: “She’s got a massive, massive beehive in the movie. It’s hilarious.”
Although he does think the boys are going to be more popular: “I guess all the boys are going to be very popular when the movie comes out, especially John DeLuca, Garrett Clayton and Kent Boyd. All of the boys in the movie are great.”
On the whole heart-throb factor, he laughs: “It feels cool. To be honest, I don’t really think of myself as a heart-throb – but it’s cool when someone calls me that. It’s nice, but I don’t let it go to my head or anything.”
Once the shoot was done, he says he did end up keeping one of the rash guards (Lycra shirt that protects body from sun and chafing against surfboard) as a keepsake.
MAIA MITCHELL (McKenzie/Mack)
THIS 20-year-old debuted on the children’s Tv series Mortified before landing more “grown up” parts.
From Trapped to The Fosters and a guest appearance in Jessie, this Selena Gomez look-alike cracked the nod for Teen Beach Movie, which was quite a stretch from her Australian TV experiences.
Not only that, she also gets to lay claim to the title of “Disney Channel star”.
Of the experience and the exposure, she shares: “It hasn’t really sunk in yet, but it’s very exciting. Everyone’s really supportive and incredibly friendly at Disney Channel – and we have such an amazing fan base there.
“The fans are so enthusiastic and cool that it makes me even more excited about everything. It feels really, really brilliant to be part of something so big.”
On bagging the role in the musical, which is touted as Disney’s next big release after High School Musical, she says: “I auditioned a lot. I sent over tapes from Australia and then they kept asking for more.
“After the third tape, they decided they wanted to meet me on Skype – but the sound wasn’t working in my living room. It was probably the most dreadful audition in the world. At that point, they decided to fly me to Los Angeles to audition.”
With so many highlights shooting the movie, Mitchell was a bit hesitant to pick just one memorable moment.
She explains: “I have so many favourite moments from shooting this movie. We spent two months filming on the beach in Puerto Rico. How cool is that?
“To be able to turn months of preparation and training into this movie has been a dream come true. It’s really fun to see that the hard work has resulted in a really fun, cool movie.”
The one additional talent she will walk away with, though, is having learnt to surf in Australia and the US for the role.
“Thankfully, all the training paid off,” she laughs.
Recalling a mishap that took place on set, Mitchell says: “Having a beehive hairstyle on the beach was a recipe for disaster with me. It just didn’t work out. I got my hair stuck in a tree at one point. It was so tall with the beehive hair, but I kept forgetting about it. Oops!”
As for her favourite duet in the movie, the young actress says it is a song called Can’t Stop Singing that she sings with Lynch.
“We had a lot of fun working on the choreography for that routine. It was so funny and goofy,” she chuckles.
Of course, it’s the fans who will have to make the final call on whether these two newcomers are good enough to be in the same teen heart-throb league as Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens.
Teen Beach Movie is set to debut on the Disney Channel (DStv channel 303) on Friday, September 20, at 5pm.