David James/New Line Cinema
David James/New Line Cinema
When you see Hairspray later this summer, you'll love seeing big stars like Christopher Walken, Michelle Pfeiffer and Queen Latifah do their thing. You'll also go nuts for John Travolta playing a woman and lovely ladies Brittany Snow and Amanda Bynes in all their hottie glory. But there’s one star in the cast who shines the brightest, and that's newcomer Nikki Blonsky.
The Great Neck, New York, native was discovered while working in a Cold Stone ice cream parlor and was cast as the loveable Tracy Turnblad. She's cool enough to kick it in the Lyons Den, too, and answer a few questions about the film and her new life in Hollywood. Check it out.
Congrats on Hairspray! I can't wait to see what your future holds in Hollywood. What's next after Hairspray?
I had a blast making Hairspray, and I just want to continue making more great movies that not only inspire and impact my life but do the same for all the people who come out to see them.
This was your first movie. When did you truly feel comfortable on set?
I think the first moment I felt I belonged was the first day we arrived and Adam [Shankman], our director, introduced me to the whole cast and crew as Tracy, and I said to myself, "Okay, I’m here. This my life."
In this huge ensemble cast, including some big, big names, who do you think audiences will be most surprised by? For me, it was James Marsden aka Cyclops, because I had no idea he could sing and dance.
Yes, Jimmy is incredible at singing and dancing. He's awesome and I definitely learned a lot from watching him work. But I think the one who knocked my socks off was Christopher Walken. I've seen lots of his movies where he plays the rough guy or the mean guy, but the way he approached the character of Wilbur and played my father with such grace and compassion, it made me feel right at home. He's one of the biggest inspirations in my life onscreen and offscreen.
You've met a lot of cool people since scoring the role of Tracy Turnblad. From Travolta to Oprah, what's been your best celebrity encounter? (And don't say me, 'cause I'm not a celebrity.)
Well, since you already said I can't say you, which stinks because you know I'd say Ben Lyons in a heartbeat, I guess if I have to pick someone else, it's Sean Hayes (Jack from Will & Grace). That was my favorite show, and to meet him and hang out with him was amazing. He's awesome!
What is it about the themes and messages of Hairspray that have stood the test of time?
Well, I think the message of acceptance will never die. People are always judging the way other people act and the way they look. This occurs every day with racism and plus-size people, which happen to be the two main acts of bigotry in our film. But at the same time, when you look back at the ‘60s and see how bad it was and see how far we have come in history, we still realize we have much more room to grow and go as a society.
Other than doing a quick cameo, John Waters really had nothing to do with this remake of his 1988 original. Did you get a chance to meet him?
Oh, yes, I met the master, Mr. John Waters himself. That was incredible and he had lots of good advice for me, but the one that stands out was when I looked at him and said, "John, if there's one piece of advice that you could give me, what is it?" He said, "Listen to Adam" [our director] and I laughed. He's so funny, and I thank my lucky stars for him because if it wasn't for him, neither Hairspray nor Tracy would have ever been born.
I've kicked it with you in Vegas at ShoWest, at the MTV Awards, at Hyde and at a press junket at the Four Seasons. Have we both gone Hollywood already?
No, we have not gone Hollywood. We just happen to follow each other around, that’s all!
You get to kiss Zac Efron in this movie, which makes every girl in my office, every friend on MySpace and every girl in my BlackBerry jealous. Name three other leading men you'd like to share a similar scene with.
Wow, I’ve never been asked that before! I'm going to say (1) John Stamos, (2) Michael Ealy and (3) I don’t want to make you blush, so I'll say someone else’s name where yours should be, but um...I'd have to say Matthew McConaughey.
What do you love most about your newfound notoriety, and what's been the worst? And whose career do you look to for inspiration?
What I love most about my newfound notoriety is the fact that I'm being myself in Hollywood, a place where people have to fit in to certain stereotypes, and I am showing the world that you don't have to fit into those stereotypes to be who you want to be. I hope I am showing people there's an alternative route. Not everything in life or this business is all one way. I look to the career of my favorite actress, Ms. Angela Lansbury, for inspiration. She has had a very long, successful career. I mean, the woman is now in her 80s and starring in a Broadway show! I know when I'm 80 I want to be in a Broadway show or making a movie.
Thanks, Nikki, for kicking it in the Lyons Den. You know you're always welcome to stop by!