As a KIDS FIRST! film critic, 14-year-old Gabriella Chu had the enviable opportunity to meet in person with Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer star Jordana Beatty and with Judy Moody’s creator, author Megan McDonald, when they were recently in New York. “I like the character herself because she’s so independent and she’s a leader. She never cares what anyone else thinks,” Beatty told Chu. And that, McDonald told Chu a short time later, is a big part of what she wants Judy Moody’s fans to take away: “I think in real life we have a lot of moods and a lot of disappointments, but Judy always finds a creative way, and I think she always kind of meets those obstacles with a sense of humor. I would like kids to know [to] just keep a sense of humor about it. Everything doesn’t always go perfectly in life, but I think Judy is kind of an inspiration that way.”
Read both interviews in full below, and view them on YouTube.
Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer
Talent interviews by Gabriella Chu
I was so excited to interview Jordana Beatty and Ms. Megan McDonald on the upcoming film: Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer! I left school early on Wednesday, May 25, 2011, to make sure I would be at the press meeting and interview on time. At about 4:00, both stars came in. I was so elated to have the opportunity to chat with them for a bit.
INTERVIEW WITH JORDANA BEATTY
(Photo: Jordana Beatty, left, with Gabriella Chu)
Gabriella Chu: What do you do with other actors when you’re not working on set?
Jordana Beatty: I love to play games with them a lot, like Uno. We also just hang out and chat, and we still do school work together.
Chu: Do you still keep in touch with them?
Beatty: Yeah. I e-mail them because we are obviously in different countries and I can’t wait to see them!
Chu: What is something that you hope kids watching the movie will learn from you?
Beatty: I hope that it will teach them to go out and have the best summer ever. Don’t just stick around at home in front of the computer all day, but actually go out and do something.
Chu: So what does that mean to you? What is a fun summer to you?
Beatty: I think for me it’s doing the things I like best, so: going to the beach a lot, surfing, baking and reading.
Chu: Cool! I know you’re Australian. Have you ever been to New York before?
Beatty: I’ve been before but only for a very short time, so I’m excited to be back.
Chu: Do you like it?
Beatty: I love it!
Chu: Is it very different from Australia?
Beatty: Yes, definitely. The weather is a lot different and there are so many buildings and I definitely don’t know my way around.
Chu: What advice do you have for kids who want to be actors?
Beatty: I think if you don’t get something the first time, then keep trying — because that’s what I did and it worked.
Chu: Do you identify with your character in the movie?
Beatty: Yeah, in a couple of ways. We both have the same color hair, we both have a great imagination, and we both get in lots of moods.
Chu: What do you think is the most fun aspect of playing Judy Moody?
Beatty: That’s a hard one. I like everything. I like the character herself because she’s so independent and she’s a leader. She never cares what anyone else thinks. I like her qualities and her family and I love her bedroom.
Chu: Are you a lot like her in real life?
Beatty: I think so, but we are very different in a few ways as well.
Beatty: We are both different because we come from very different families and we’re from different sides of the planet. She also has a little brother, of course, and I have no siblings. Just cousins. So that’s a big difference as well. And she has different friends, obviously, and we definitely don’t dress alike. She’s very mismatched.
Chu: If she was a real person, do you think you would be good friends with her?
Beatty: Yes, definitely. She is very fun-loving and she’s great at heart.
Chu: It’s been a pleasure meeting you, Jordana. I like the movie a lot.
This has been an interview by Gabriella Chu for KIDS FIRST! You should go out and see Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer coming out on June 10!
INTERVIEW WITH MEGAN MCDONALD
(Photo: Megan McDonald, left, with Gabriella Chu)
Chu: When I was a bit younger, I used to read the Judy Moody series. I’m a fan. What inspired you to write the books?
Megan McDonald: Well, originally, the books were based on my own life a little bit because I have four older sisters. So you can imagine that with lots of siblings a lot of funny things happen. I kind of make the same things happen to Judy and Stink in the books.
Chu: Yesterday, I just watched the movie. I like it a lot! Especially how Judy Moody and Aunt Opal are always coming up with such creative ways to have fun. Was it hard thinking of those ideas?
McDonald: We had tons of ideas and we didn’t get to use them all in the film. But it wasn’t really hard because I think that’s really a part of Judy’s character. She’s so creative, so even if hard or difficult things happen to her, she always finds a creative solution. I also wanted it to be like the simple things that we like to do when we were kids, like having a club with your friends or riding a rollercoaster.
Chu: How involved were you in the creation of the movie?
McDonald: I am so lucky, because a lot of writers don’t have anything to do with [it] when the book goes to film, but I got to co-write the screenplay so I got to dream up what the whole story of the movie would be and write it. The producer also asked me if I would come on set, so I got to go every day when they were filming and be kind of in a consulting role to make sure that everything was very authentic to Judy Moody’s world.
Chu: So do you think the movie is a good interpretation of your books?
McDonald: I think it is, because it really captures Judy Moody’s character. She is a big sister to her little brother Stink, but also her kind of kooky kind of fun-loving aunt comes to stay, and so she has this wonderful new relationship with her aunt, who’s kind of like a grown-up Judy Moody. That’s a little different from the books because she is a new character, but there is so much that’s part of Judy Moody’s world in the movie — like her mood ring, her cat named Mouse, her magic 8 ball, and all of the things that readers will know and love about Judy. The Toad Pee Club with her friends is also in the movie, so I think it sticks very closely to the spirit of Judy Moody and the books.
Chu: What message are you trying to get across in your books?
McDonald: In the books, I don’t really sit down and consciously think of the message. It’s more like I hope kids will be inspired by Judy’s character and the person she is. I think she’s very independent, knows her own mind, has strong opinions and [is] very outspoken. I also hope that from the film, [they get] she wants to have the best summer ever and a lot of things go wrong. I think in real life we have a lot of moods and a lot of disappointments, but Judy always finds a creative way, and I think she always kind of meets those obstacles with a sense of humor. I would like kids to know [to] just keep a sense of humor about it. Everything doesn’t always go perfectly in life, but I think Judy is kind of an inspiration in that way.
Chu: What particular age group do you think the movie is suited for, for most kids?
McDonald: If I had to pick an age group, the core age group is 7- to 10-year-olds. But when we did some preliminary screenings, my niece came, who is three years old, and sat through the whole 90-minute movie and was just wide-eyed on the edge of her seat. So even really little kids enjoy Judy Moody. I’ve also had 18-year-olds who read Judy Moody when they were that age. They take their friends and come, so I think even if you’ve known Judy Moody when you were a kid, you will still enjoy it. I think grown-ups enjoy it because it’s very funny and makes you laugh out loud.
Chu: Do you think we’ll be seeing more of Judy Moody in the future?
McDonald: I certainly hope so. I would love for there to be a sequel some day. I know Jordana would love to play Judy Moody again. We will keep our fingers crossed and hope that will happen someday!
Chu: I hope so too! These are all the questions I have today. Thank you so much for your time Ms. McDonald.
This has been an interview from Gabriella Chu for KIDS FIRST! You should go out and see Judy Moody. It’s coming out in theaters June 10!