Former 'High School Musical' star Vanessa Hudgens has defended appearing as an out-of-control college sexpot in Harmony Korine's 'Spring Breakers'.
“I just want to be able to try new things and transform myself and have audiences say: 'I cannot believe that's Vanessa Hudgens!''
In the controversial new movie, she plays one of four college girls who land in jail after robbing a restaurant to fund their spring-break vacation.
Her partners-in-crime are played by Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine (wife of the director) and fellow former Disney princess, Selena Gomez. The foursome are bailed out of prison by James Franco's rapper-drug dealer:
Hudgens, 24, told 'The Independent': “It's all about sex, and money, and bitches, and hoes."
In the US, the spring-break vacation sees thousands of students flocking to Florida to get wasted and naked at the beach. “Personally? No. I don't really relate,” says the actress, who has experienced neither college nor spring break. “Being young, I can relate to it a little, perhaps, but not to the extreme of the spring break reality itself. I remember experimenting with drinking and feeling like it was so naughty. But that's just self-exploration. My friends are honestly very tame and creative and spiritual so the whole wild thing isn't very relevant to our lives."
She was just 14 when she landed her first movie role, in 'Thirteen', but it was Disney's 'High School Musical' trilogy (2006-08), that propelled her to stardom, and her romance with co-star Zac Efron resulted in the couple's relationship being played out in the tabloids.
Bikini-clad through much of 'Spring Breakers', Hudgens says she was fine filming her pool make-out scene with co-star Benson: “I'd rather kiss Ashley than kiss James to be honest – because she's a girl and I was close to her and I felt comfortable. So I was like 'Yeah, I'll kiss Ashley!'”
As for making James Franco perform fellatio with his own gun? “Harmony wanted us to emasculate James. Is that the right word? He wanted us to have complete power over him and push it to the limit; make him our bitch basically. I'd already shot a lot of guns for 'Sucker Punch' and had training with Navy SEALS so I was quite comfortable with guns, although its always nice to have someone there, making sure that you're safe.”
She reveals the drugs were fake. “Urrrgh, it smelt so bad,” she shudders. “They used fake herbal stuff, it was like sage almost. Everything was fake.”
Though going blonde for the role was a revelation.“Me and Ashley went out to a bar once and I had the blonde wig on. I felt like so many girls hated us – instantly. So, if anything, being blonde brought on more hate. I wouldn't be in a rush to try it again,” says Hudgens.
She insists he will take her family to the 'Spring Breakers' premiere: “Honestly, I think I have to bring the whole family. My family is so supportive of me. They look at this as my artistic development and they're proud of me for pushing myself, so they're all gonna see it. I don't know if my mom's really going to agree with it, but that's her choice."
Part of her newfound confidence, she says, comes from having taken on more challenging roles, such as 'Gimme Shelter''s pregnant teen, a virgin bride in Robert Rodriguez's 'Machete Kills' and a drug-addicted stripper in 'The Frozen Ground'.
Seduced on-screen by a variety of bad men, she personally fails to understand the allure of the bad boy: “I honestly have no idea because I have never liked bad guys,” muses the actress, who's been in a relationship with actor Austin Butler for 18 months.
“Bad boys have never held any appeal. I think it's because I was a very shy child; I was very observant and I like to keep things simple. I've always been that way and I am still to this day, so I don't get it. I want to be treated like a princess – not in a demanding way, just in a respect way.”
'Spring Breakers' opens on 5 April