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Contributed by Michael J. Lee, Executive Editor
for Radio Free Entertainment

February 19, 2006

Based on the novel by Alice Hoffman, Aquamarine is the story of two young teenage girls (Emma Roberts and Joanna Levesque) who are spending a final summer together before one of them must move away to Australia. But fate takes an unexpected turn when they discover a mermaid named Aquamarine (Sara Paxton) who has washed up into their swimming pool. Determined to get out of a pre-arranged marriage, the mythical creature tells the girls that she will grant them a wish if they help her find true love on land, and the two quickly make it their mission to fix Aqua up with a local lifeguard (Jake McDorman).

In this interview, JoJo talks about working on this movie, which was filmed in Australia.

The Interview

MEDIA: Is performing as a musical artist very different from performing as a film actor?

JOANNA: Yes, it is different. There is a different responsibility that you have. As an artist, you can be whoever you want to be. You can be yourself, obviously, and you can portray yourself anyway you choose. And when you're playing a role, you obviously have to play that person who is different from yourself. So I took that very seriously, and I tried to make my character of Hailey different from who I am. Because I'm not shy, and she was kind of uncomfortable with herself, she covered up with baggy clothes, and I'm not like that. [laughs]

Did you take acting classes in preparation for the role?

I hadn't done that before, but I had done professional theatre in Massachusetts, and in LA as well. And we had an acting coach on set, and she helped me just find my character more, and do some exercises like that, which was really beneficial, actually.

How did you feel about seeing yourself in the movie?

It was really weird to see myself on there because this was a year ago that I shot it. I was like 10, 15 pounds heavier, I had no makeup, I was wearing very ill-fitting clothing, and I was just like watching myself with my hands over my eyes, just like, "Oh my God. I can't believe this." As far as the acting, I was very pleased with the way that the girls were portrayed, and the way that I was portrayed, and the jobs that we did. But as far as the vanity thing, I was like, "Dude, I need to look cute in my next movie!" [laughs]

You didn't contribute a song to the Aquamarine soundtrack?

No, I did not. And I don't want you to think it was because I think I'm too good, because I'm so not too good! [laughs] The thing was, I wanted to keep my acting and my singing separate, and that's why I chose not to play a singer in films, that's why I chose not to sing in films.

Which came first for you: wanting to sing or wanting to act?

Wanting to sing...Because I've been singing since I was two, and music is my first passion, and I love writing, I love singing, I love creating and being creative...But I've been acting since I was six. I actually played a boy when I was six in Tommy. I played Tommy. [laughs] They put up my hair, and they put this little boy wig on me, and that was my first acting experience. And then I did some other professional theatre. I did Shakespeare and things like that when I was older in Boston.

You have a scene where your character is swimming with dolphins. Were those real dolphins, computer generated dolphins, or evil robot dolphins?

[laughs] I wish I could say evil robot dolphins, because that'd be really neat! But they were real dolphins, and we did it at Sea World. And then they electronically, with movie magic and stuff, put them in looking like it was the ocean. But they were real dolphins, and I was really scared. I'm kind of afraid of animals, actually, which is very strange. But I'm afraid of animals. I'm afraid of sea creatures and things that could potentially bite me. And my dad's friend actually had her arm bit by a dolphin. And ever since then, I was so frightened. And of all people, of all of the girls, I was the one that had to ride the dolphin, that had the weird experience with the woman getting her hand chopped off by a dolphin. I was like, "Oh my God, they're going to bite my neck and I'm going to die." And thank God, they were nice. But I took it really emotionally. [laughs] I was really scared.

So ultimately, there was no problem with these particular dolphins?

We had no problems, no. And the trainers were really nice and really eased me into it.

How did you get along with your co-stars Sara and Emma?

We're really good friends. And I think that that's one of the most special things that came out of this film, is that we got two other awesome friends. So it was magical, and I just love that. And I take that off set. I was just with them last night, too, after work and stuff. And I was in Sara's room till like 2 o'clock last night just talking. It was really good.

Did you read the book the movie was based on?

I am ashamed to say that I did not read the book going into it. I'm embarrassed to say that, and I should have, but I didn't. I just read the script. I wouldn't say it was a conscious thing. It was probably pretty much a lazy thing that I didn't read it, so I'm going to front and say it was a conscious thing, because I wanted to connect with my character from the script. So that's my "lie" answer. [laughs]

In the movie, helping a mermaid earns you a wish. Given the opportunity in real life, what would you wish for?

There are so many things that I would wish for. But something that's not a selfish thing is, of course, world peace. Because I think that there's a lot of unrest and misunderstanding among the world. And I think that if we had that, then all the other issues would be solved...So I would probably start there. [laughs]

And what about a selfish wish? Because I hear world peace is kind of overrated...

[laughs] A selfish wish would probably be for a Mercedes SLK.

What kind of music do you listen to?

Last night, I was just listening to James Taylor and Joni Mitchell and D'Angelo and Erykah Badu. So I have pretty eclectic taste.

Have you ever had to part ways with a best friend, like your character does?

All the time. Yeah. I've moved a lot. Mostly I was the one that left. I have three best friends, actually. And it was never like that before. I always had one best friend. But now I just have three people that are the most important people in my life, and I have to leave them constantly. My friend who has been my best friend since we were 8 moved to Florida after I moved to California for seven months, so we were very far away from each other. And then I moved back to Boston. So it's hard. But we keep in touch through phone, and we still have that connection and that friendship.

How did you like filming in Australia, and was it hard to be away from home?

I had my mom with me all the time, so she kind of brought the home--because I feel like home is where my family is. So my mom was with me, and that was good. But Australia was beautiful. We were in Queensland, and we were right across from the beach, and we would go shopping all the time and hang out with the locals. We made some local friends, and that was fun.

Was the Australian beach your favorite in the world?

Australia was beautiful, but my favorite beach is in the Bahamas. I love the Bahamas, I love going jet skiing, I love the locals, I love it all. [laughs]

You made your first album at the age of 12 and your second album at 15. Was it hard to hold back and wait three years before releasing your sophomore album?

It was one of the hardest things I've ever have to do. And I made another decision not to release my third album until I'm 18, and that's going to be really, really hard for me. But I want people to see growth...And I want people to be able to see that through the writing and the lyrics and the vocals. But I'm going to do a film in between as well. So that's what'll keep me busy, because I hate not doing anything.

Along the lines of personal growth, do you have any particular goals set for the next three years?

Getting my license! [laughs] Getting my license, and buying property. I want to buy real estate at 18. I can't wait to be on my own. I'm really excited, even though I'll miss my mom. But I'll see her all the time. I know real estate is a really good investment.

Do you look back on the last three years of your career and feel like it is surreal? As if it hasn't really happened?

Oh, I realize it's happened. But sometimes I'm like, "This is so cool!" Because I'm just this girl from Foxboro, and I still live in Foxboro. It's like just so real there, and nobody treats me any differently. My family still puts me in my place. Like I'll ask, "Aunt Connie, could you get me a glass of water?" She's like, "You can't get your own glass of water? Oh, do you think you're so good?" They always put me in my place, and it's so refreshing, because people, especially here in LA, sometimes just jump at your every need, and it's good to be kept in check like that.

What's the thing to do in Foxboro for visitors?

Go to a Patriots game, actually! Or a Revolution game. Revolution is the soccer team. Woo-woo!

Thanks for your time.

Thank you so much. It was really awesome. Thanks, guys!

Related Material

Aquamarine interview with Sara Paxton
Aquamarine interview with Emma Roberts
Aquamarine interview with Joanna "JoJo" Levesque
Movie Coverage: Aquamarine


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