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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, Sara Paxton talks about working on this movie, which was filmed in Australia.

The Interview

MEDIA: How did you like playing a mermaid?

SARA: It was amazing. Being a mermaid has been like my dream since I was a little kid...and it was really amazing getting to be one. I had to spend four hours in makeup a day, because it took two hours to do hair and makeup, and then two and a half hours to squeeze my body into the tail, get it zipped up, glued in, airbrushed, painted. And then they would roll me onto a tarp, and five guys on a stretcher would carry me like I was Cleopatra. And then they'd set me on the ground and flop me into the pool. It was an interesting experience. [laughs]

How familiar were you with other mermaid stories going into this one?

Well, I was like obsessed with mermaids when I was little. And I watched The Little Mermaid like every day, and it still makes me cry. I'm not going to lie about that. [laughs] And when I was little, I used to go in the pool and like tie my legs together and practice swimming. And I was like, "Daddy, look, I'm Shelly the mermaid!" And I would just pretend. So that's why when I heard about this movie, I was like, "I have to play that part! Nothing is going to stop me! I am going to be that mermaid!" So I couldn't believe it when I found out. I was like screaming and jumping around.

Just for disclaimer purposes, you don't suggest that little girls tie their legs together and go swimming?

No! People, don't do that! [laughs]

So why the obsession with mermaids?

I was attracted to mermaids when I was little because I was like, "Oh my gosh, are they real? Are they really out there?" And in every single story, mermaids are like the beautiful ones sitting on the rock, brushing their hair, singing. And I just think every girl is just like, "I just really want to be the mermaid." And especially with The Little Mermaid being so popular and everything. And Splash...

Did you check out Splash after finding out you were going to be in Aquamarine?

No, I had seen it when I was little, and I also really liked that movie, too. So that kind of got me more interested in mermaids. Emma actually did a report on mermaids while we were filming, so we learned so much. And all these cultures report seeing mermaids at the same time. It's like, how is that possible, at the same time, when there's like no telephones? They can't call up and be like, "Dude, I just saw a mermaid." [laughs]

Could you actually swim while you were wearing the tail?

Oh, yeah. There [were] three different tails, and one was animatronic, so I would just sit there and it would do all the work, like moving around. And then one I could actually swim in, and it was really difficult. So I was pretty buff there for a while! It all went away...But yeah, I could actually swim in it. It bended and stuff. I could go really fast.

Were you comfortable in the whole water environment?

Yeah. Luckily, I'm a really strong swimmer already, but for a month beforehand, when I got to Australia, they required that all three of us had swimming lessons. I felt really stupid. I had like floaties and goggles. [laugh] And we were like three-year-olds learning how to swim again. But it came in really handy because we had some really tough water scenes like with wave machines. And it's a good thing that we built some muscle and became strong swimmers, because it was important.

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

Me and Emma live literally five minutes away from each other. And JoJo lives on the east coast, but she comes over to visit all the time, and we constantly keep in touch. We help each other with like guy problems and stuff like that, and we've just really been keeping in touch. And on set, we hung out nonstop. We worked together every day for three months. And it's a good thing that we all got along so well, because we literally were like seeing each other every second of the day. So it's really a good thing we were really close.

How would you describe your experience of working on the movie?

I had so much fun making it. It was definitely one of the best filming experiences ever for me. I mean, please, we're like in Australia--that's just amazing on its own. But the Australians are so nice. Like when they say no worries, they literally mean no worries. Like they don't worry about anything! And I wasn't stressed at all. And then JoJo and Emma...We were just really close and we'd hang out in my room and watch movies, and we ate pizza like every day. [laughs] You should just see the way we ate. It was not healthy. But JoJo ate really healthy. There was like this vegan restaurant, and she would go over there...We definitely had a really good time. And the crew was so nice, and it was definitely an experience I won't forget.

Was there any particular food in Australia that you really liked?

The whole three months, I was like, "I gotta try this..." They eat kangaroo there. But I felt so bad! I was like, "I can't eat the cute little kangaroos!" I chickened out. I never ate it. But there's this fruit called passion fruit, and oh my God...My record was 30 a day, I think. And like everyone would come over, and they were like, "Sara, how many passion fruits have you had?" I'm like, "I'm on 26, mate! Good on ya!"

What is your favorite beach in the world?

Well, we lived on the beach in Australia. We lived in a place called Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast, and it was amazing. The sand was just totally white and the water was like 80, 85 degrees. But also, I go to Hawaii once a year with my family, and I go to Maui. And that's like an amazing beach, and I love staying there also.

Of all the scenes in the movie, which is your favorite?

I have to say the scene where I'm first introduced into the film was one of my favorites. We had already been shooting for like a month and a half, and it was the first time that I was going to wear my tail full on. And it was so funny. The guys carried me out and everyone was like clapping for me and cheering. And they were like, "Yeah, Sara!" And it just felt really cool. For the first time, I was wearing my tail and everything, and it was just really fun to wear it, and everybody's like staring at me when I was swimming around in it.

Did you get to keep the mermaid tail?

I wish! Oh my gosh, that thing is like a piece of art. First of all, it's like 150 pounds and like 8 feet long. Like I was heavy. And then once water got into it, because it was latex on the inside, it was like a sponge. And I couldn't move at all. And JoJo and Emma were like, "Are you hungry? Do you want anything? Are you okay?" I'm just like, "Yeah, I'm cool! I'm great, thanks." I was literally just laying there on the ground. But it was really fun. I enjoyed it a lot.

Did you use that opportunity to take advantage of people, and get them to wait on you hand and foot?

Well, when I was doing the scenes where I was walking around, I was like, [mock Diva attitude] "Uh, guys? Stretcher? I have to walk now? What is this?" [laughs]

Have you ever had to deal with a best friend moving away, like the girls in the movie?

Actually, I've always been the one that's had to leave or change schools, and I've always been the one that's had to disappoint everyone else by leaving. So I guess it's kind of the same thing. I've had to leave some friends behind and stuff. Luckily, I have the same group of best friends since we were like 10, and we all live pretty close. And I had to switch schools, and that was like "big drama" that I was leaving the school and everything. But we're all still best friends, so that's good.

What kind of music are you into?

I listen to all kinds of music. But people are really actually surprised to find out that I'm like a really big classic rock fan. Like the Rolling Stones are my favorite band. And when I was little, my mom had to inform me that John Lennon was dead. I didn't know that. I thought they were like a current group when I was in fourth grade. My mom was like, "Honey, I just want you to know, there's other music out there. There's Britney Spears! And 'N Sync! And John Lennon is dead." I was like, "Noooo!" And then I was like, "They're old? No!" But I still love 'em.

Thanks for your time.

Thank you! It was nice meeting you!

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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