Since starring in Disney’s High School Musical eight years ago, Vanessa Hudgens has turned her focus to roles any 25-year-old actor would be anxious to undertake. From last year’s vastly underrated Spring Breakers, to the upcoming Gimme Shelter, Hudgens is setting herself up to have a long-lasting acting career and not just be a teenage star.
I hate that I even have to mention Hudgens’ “transition” from Disney roles to her more recent characters, since it’s not that she is making a huge effort to break from the Disney mold. In fact, she has actually been given the opportunity to leverage her early fame to take on the edgy, meatier roles, that would peak the interest of any actor. If I were in her shoes, I would also be looking for roles like this – characters that would help me showcase my talent.
In Hudgens’ lastest film, Gimme Shelter (which is based on a true story), she is almost unrecognizable as Apple, a pregnant teenager with a family life so terrible, she inevitably has to live on the streets of New Jersey. When a priest (James Earl Jones) helps Apple find a bed in a shelter catered to other homeless, pregnant women like herself, her life is changed forever. To prepare for the role, Hudgens not only changed her appearance, gaining fifteen pounds and cutting her hair, she also spent several weeks living in the Several Sources Shelter from which the movie was based. After watching the movie, it’s easy to see how much this preparation paid off.
I had the opportunity to conduct a roundtable interview with the energetic Vanessa Hudgens, where we talked about her exotically painted fingernails, the insane cold in DC, and, of course, her new role in Gimme Shelter. I enjoyed hearing Hudgens talk about her transformation for this role, her butterfly tattoo, the fact she sent the script to Rosario Dawson (who plays her abusive mother), and the real women behind this true story (who also made cameo appearances in the film). Additionally, I made sure to ask Hudgens about the characteristics and mannerisms she gave to Apple (such as always eating really quickly and her different walk). Were there any others she wanted us to notice? I won’t call this Hudgens’ breakthrough role, since I think we already saw that in Spring Breakers; however, I will say, based on her bold performance in Gimme Shelter, I am excited to see what she has coming next!
Make sure to check out Gimme Shelter (directed by Ron Krauss) this Friday, January 24 in Washington, DC area theaters!