AE: I was talking to your co-star Ally the other day and she told me a very cute story about how you called her up before the shoot to introduce yourself and make her feel comfortable. I thought that was just the coolest. How do you stay so down to earth in this business?
Nikki Blonsky: Oh, you are so sweet. I would have to say I’m very fortunate. I have great, great parents who definitely keep me grounded, and I’m 4’10” so I can’t get close to the ground really. [laughs] I’m kidding, I’m kidding. I know where I come from and I love what I do. I have fun being myself, as strange as that sounds because I’m an actress and I play so many different people. But I have fun being me and I wouldn’t want to change that for the world.
As per Ally, that was great. I read in the script that there were kissing scenes and touching and what have you. I called her up and said, “We either go all the way… ’cause I don’t do anything halfway. So if we are going to go for this, it’s not about two women kissing, or two men kissing. It’s about two people in love, kissing.” I said, “If you’re on board, let’s go with it. If they’re rolling and you want to give me a kiss on the cheek or touch me in any way…in this movie when the cameras are rolling we are girlfriend and girlfriend. So do what you feel like doing as if I was your man.” She was like, “OK!” When we got there, it was just so much fun. We just had a blast. She didn’t tell you this! I got there a little bit later than her and our trailers were connected, and she had door that connected our trailers wide open! I was like, oh, it’s kind of like we’re living together. [laughs]
AE: [laughs] Well, you know, lesbians, we move quickly!
NB: I know, it was like within a night, we moved in. We met, we talked, we kissed, we moved in.
AE: Nikki, we call that U-Hauling.
NB: Yes, I’ve heard. I’ve heard. So Ally and I totally U-Hauled.
AE: [laughs] That’s awesome.
AE: In the book, the character Terese is a little bit different. She’s is a soccer playing jock. In the movie, your character is kind of a badass, gothy musician, which I loved. Was the role altered to incorporate your singing talents? Did you have any input on her?
NB: You know, I didn’t have any input on the soccer or the singing. I don’t think they changed it for me. I think it just happened to work hand in hand that I am a musician and a singer. I had never picked up a guitar before in my life. So for two days, I just played that thing until my fingers bled, because I was determined. I was like, I’m playing this! They are not going to put it in post-production. I really wanted to do that. I think what they did to fit my personality a little bit more was the input of the wardrobe. I had a lot of input there, and that was so much fun. I mean, who doesn’t want to walk around in a leather jacket, with chains, have cornrows, and feel like a badass? I was like, “This is so cool! I want to walk around like this all the time.” It was so comfortable. Flannel is amazing!
NB: I’ve never worn flannel, now I want flannel. It was so awesome having a leather jacket, Doc Martens, carrying a guitar on my back. I just felt so cool.
AE: You essentially looked like me when I was 16. [laughs]
AE: While the film centers around Russ, a young gay man, I found that his experience of wanting to be embraced and accepted is a pretty universal struggle. Why do you think audiences of all kinds, straight, gay, old, young, should check out Geography Club?
NB: I think everybody should check out Geography Club because it’s a movie for all ages. It’s a movie for everybody because everybody in their lives, at one point, has been either a victim of bullying or has been a bully. When you put that together, you can seriously sit down and say, “Wow, this is what’s going on in today’s generation.” It will give you an insight into today’s generations, but it will also show people that while making this movie, we understood their struggles with coming out. We understood everything about them, and we really wanted to hit the nail on the head with every single character. Back in my grandparents’ time, men didn’t come out as gay.
I watched this show the other day about a couple of men who were close to their eighties and they were a couple. It just touched my heart so much, because they were so happy that now they can finally get married and do what they want to do and be out and proud. I think that if this movie shows people that we understand and we want to portray you all in the highest regar d… but we also want the straight people to see what they go through.
Straight people get bullied too. It’s not just about being gay, it’s about being bullied and being part of today’s generation. You get bullied in school; you get bullied in the workplace. I still get bullied on Twitter, or what have you. It’s everywhere you go. If people just sit there in the movie and watch it, and take one little thing away, like maybe think before you speak. My grandmother always taught me, if people make fun of you it’s because they are insecure with themselves. If you can remember those two things, then you’ll enjoy the film, and I think it will touch your heart. I think maybe it will break through what you had before.
AE: Ally and I spoke about this as well, but as an actor, have you seen a shift in the last few years to a more inclusive industry?
NB: Yes, I actually have. This industry is so interesting, I gave a quote the other day, because somebody asked me, “Do you think Hollywood has abandoned you?” I was like, no. If anything, Hollywood is like a child’s bedroom. When the child gets a new toy from mommy and daddy, it’s like the same thing when a new celebrity comes out and their the hottest thing. So the child wants to play with this toy all the time, right. But then, that child gets kind of tired of that toy, and the toy goes away back into oblivion or whatever. Maybe they’ll get another one and play with that. It keeps evolving. The cycle keeps going. But there are always those special toys, those that will never be thrown away. I feel that in my career and my life, I’m one of those special toys because I can adapt to a lot of situations. I think whatever people say about me, doing this movie, it’s not really going to faze me because I know what I did is right. I think the shift in Hollywood with more curvy girls coming in has been great. Gosh knows when I came in, I was like the only one. I was like, “Hi! I’m chunky! Where’s everybody else?” [laughs]
NB: Now there’s definitely more chunky, heavier set and plus-size women, and that’s great. There is definitely more of a sense of the LGBT community in TV shows and movies and I think it’s great. Even if you look back to fifteen years ago, when Will and Grace came out, who was the most beloved character?
NB: Because he was great and fun and kept the show alive. Nobody cared that he was gay, they just cared that he made them laugh. I think there has been a great shift in Hollywood and hopefully this movie will help the shift along.
AE: You hit the ground running as an actress in film and television. You were the lead of your first film, Hairspray. I have to ask, do people sing at you when they meet you on the street? How many times have you been getting Starbucks and heard “Good Morning Baltimore?”
NB: Oh my gosh, yes. I’ve had so many people come up to me, and especially hug me. They’re like, “Oh my god! Good Morning Baltimore!” then they start singing it. I’ve had people pick me up before.
AE: Oh my.
NB: And swing me, like, “Oh my god, it’s Tracy Turnblad.” I’m like, “OK, but my name is Nikki, can you put me down now?”[laughs] It’s funny, the reactions. I’m very blessed that I get these reactions because it means that movie touched their heart, and I was blessed to be a part of that movie. I’ve gotten people at the train. It’s seven in the morning and I’m going for audition, and they ding for the train to come in and the person next to me will say, “I can hear the bells.”
NB: I’m like, OK, I got it.
AE: I love it.
NB: It’s funny. I enjoy it and you know Hairspray was my first, and you know what they say. You never forget your first.
Geography Club opens this Friday, November 15.