Return to Halloweentown and Aquamarine star Sara Paxton on playing a teenage witch and her unseen kiss with Lucas Grabeel
Best known for her starring role in the feature film Aquamarine, Sara Paxton steps into the role of teenage witch Marnie Piper in Return to Halloweentown, the fourth installment in the Disney Channel Halloweentown movie franchise. She recently talked with Maya Motavalli of MediaVillage about the making of the movie, the scene that made her cry and the kiss with co-star Lucas Grabeel that did not make the final cut. An edited transcript of their conversation follows.
MV: Was it fun working on Return to Halloweentown?
Sara: It was so much fun! I’ve never gotten to play a witch before. Lucas [Grabeel] was great. The whole cast was great. We got to do stunts and special effects.
MV: What was the most fun or challenging special effect that you were involved with?
Sara: Probably the most challenging stunt was when I had to be hanging from a broom and flying without a harness. I was flying through the air on this broom with Lucas and me on the back of it. I was so scared I started crying. Lucas tried to cheer me up and make me feel better. Also, I would have to wave my arms in the air and pretend to make a spell, and then I would have to pretend that something had happened. They added the special effects later. It was pretty hard pretending that I was making things float and stuff like that.
MV: How did you get the part of Marnie?
Sara: They asked me if I was interested in playing Marnie and I said I was. It sounded like a lot of fun.
MV: Kimberly J. Brown played Marnie in the first three Halloweentown movies. What happened to her?
Sara: I don’t know! I just know they called me and said, ‘Do you want to play Marnie?’ and I said, ‘Yeah!’
MV: When I was at the Disney Channel upfront event in February they said this Halloweentown was supposed to be a musical. What happened to that? Did you think it would be a musical when you first signed on for it?
Sara: I kinda did, actually. I hadn’t heard for sure, but I remembered hearing something about that. So I was like, ‘Oh, that should be fun.’ Then it wasn’t a musical, but it was still fun. (laughs) Whatever! [Editor’s note: A Disney Channel spokesperson tells MediaVillage that talk earlier this year about a Halloweentown musical was actually about a possible fifth installment in the ongoing franchise rather than the current movie.]
MV: Had you seen the other Halloweentown movies?
Sara: Yes. I watched all of them when I was little.
MV: When you first watched them did you ever imagine you would be in a future Halloweentown movie?
Sara: No! That’s why I was so excited to get the part. I love those movies!
MV: Why didn’t you and Lucas kiss at the end of the movie? The story built up to it but then it never happened!
Sara: We actually did kiss, but they didn’t show it. They cut it out.
MV: Well, I was looking forward to that!
Sara: I know! Me too! I was watching the movie for the first time yesterday and I saw that scene and I was like, ‘Wait a minute! Wait a minute! Wait a minute! Where did it go?’ Because we filmed that!
MV: So is Lucas a good kisser?
Sara: (laughs) I don’t kiss and tell!
MV: If you had magical powers like Marnie what would you do with them?
Sara: There are so many things. I wish I could fly. I’d like to be invisible so I could sneak up on people. I’d like to make things move, to be able to make things float.
MV: Do you think Halloweentown is going to be as successful as High School Musical?
Sara: I hope so. That would be really awesome. High School Musical did really, really, really well. It’s really big.
MV: I hear you’re starting college in January.
Sara: Yeah. I had to take a semester off because I was doing another movie and they wouldn’t let me come to school after I missed three weeks. So I’ll start in January.
MV: Where are you going?
Sara: I’m going to go to Santa Monica Community College, because I want to get my general education classes over with at community college and then transfer, I’m thinking to UCLA.
MV: Would you rather go to Witch University?
Sara: (repeats) UCLA.
MV: (laughs) No, I mean Witch University!
Sara: (laughs) Oh! Yeah, I’d go there if I were a witch! [Witch University is the university Marnie attends in the movie.]
MV: You don’t have to be one, because [Lucas Grabeel’s character] Ethan went and he wasn’t a witch.
Sara: That’s true! Sign me up! Where do I sign?
MV: Are you going to try and continue with your acting career while you’re in college or will you take a break?
Sara: I think I’ll definitely take time off for school, but I definitely want to continue. It doesn’t really matter to me how long college takes as long as I finish because I definitely want to pursue acting.
MV: Have you made any other movies recently?
Sara: I just finished a movie for Lifetime, which is actually a movie for an older audience. It’s called The Party Never Stops. Right now I’m just waiting for school to start, because it’s almost the holidays and everything.
MV: What was filming Aquamarine like?
Sara: It was so much fun. I lived for three months in Australia. I lived right on the beach with Emma [Roberts] and JoJo [Levesque]. We lived right in the same apartment. Every day after work we would call each other and go hang out on the beach. We were constantly hanging out and watching movies.
MV: Was it fun to be a mermaid?
Sara: That was so much fun, too. I got to wear a tail and swim around. That was awesome.
MV: Where did Halloweentown shoot?
Sara: Salt Lake City, Utah. We couldn’t really find a lot to do there, because it’s more like a snowboarding and ski town and it was summertime. So we’d just hang around together and watch TV and order pizza.
MV: Do you know if the other Halloweentown movies were shot in the same place?
Sara: The first one was shot in Oregon, but the other two were shot in Salt Lake City. Actually, most Disney Channel Original Movies are shot with the same production company in Utah. I went there when I was twelve to film my first Disney movie [2001’s Hounded]. It’s six years later so the people there didn’t really recognize me. But they have a picture of every single movie on the wall in the production office so I pointed to [Hounded] and said, ‘That’s me!’ Happy memories came flooding back!
MV: Have you kept in touch with any of your cast mates from Halloweentown?
Sara: Yes, I have. It’s kind of hard to see them. I’m out of town a lot. They’re busy. I’m busy. It’s hard to see each other. But we always talk on the phone or text or e-mail.
MV: Are you in touch with Lucas?
Sara: He actually called me while I was away because he got a new apartment and was having a party. I was away in Canada so I couldn’t go.