By Riley Griffin, 17
Sun-kissed surfers and leather-clad riders. Opposing gangs and star-crossed lovers. It’s not "Grease," "West Side Story," "High School Musical" or "Beach Blanket Bingo." No, this is "Teen Beach Movie." Pulling threads from an array of successful movies in the past, "Teen Beach Movie" is making waves this summer.
Enter Disney Channel’s adorable new cast: Ross Lynch ("Brady"), Maia Mitchell ("McKenzie"), Garrett Clayton ("Tanner") and Grace Phipps ("Lela"). Though some of you may be nostalgic for the days at East High with Troy and Gabriella, I have a good feeling this movie -- and these young actors -- are going to be the next big thing. School’s out and it's time to hit the beach. Or as they say… callabunga!
Two days before the big premiere, I had the chance to sit down with the busy cast, who had recently stopped by The View and Good Morning America. Pushing through the day (with coffees in hand!), the cast of "Teen Beach Movie" opened up to HuffPost Teen about their love for New York pizza, behind-the-scenes pranks on set and dancing in the sand.
Tell us a little about how you got into the ‘60s mindset. Did you follow a certain routine? Overdose on the Beach Boys and Beach Party films?
Garrett: I think we all watched our fair share of movies. Some of us were watching “Grease” while some of us watched “Gidget,” and then some were watching “West Side Story,” while others watched “Hairspray.” There are so many movies to pull from and to inspire you that I think it was kind of a free-for-all.
Maia: Ross and I are modern characters [who go back in time to the '60s], so we didn’t really have to watch those movies to prepare, but I definitely did watch them out of curiosity. I had seen “Beach Blanket Bingo” and loved it, so that’s what I was thinking about when I read the script.
Grace: I wanted to make sure that I got the archetype of that decade’s female lead. The theme of the movie is equality and that you can do and be anything you want, regardless of where you come from and who you’re supposed to be.
So, bikers vs. surfers. Give us a hint: will one crew eventually trump the other? Who is the underdog?
All: (Gasp) No!
Ross: It’s all about equality in this movie.
Garrett: Each group has their moment to shine.
Grace: It’s about being able to recognize that one group is not better than the other because of being “different.” You can’t dislike someone just because they’re different!
What else have you been up to in NYC?
Grace: I did a food tour! I had New York pizza. I always didn’t believe people who said “oh no, this pizza’s different," but --
Ross: New York pizza is the best. I just love food.
What was it like filming in Puerto Rico?
Ross: Puerto Rico is just amazing. There’s a lot of Spanish, a lot of salsa and stuff. There’s a rainforest, the beaches are beautiful and the water is warm. The whole vibe of the place is really cool, and it sets the vibe for the movie, as well.
Grace: We were also able to bond because we were all in a different place. We were all having a new experience.
Garrett: We were thrust into a new environment and forced to get to know each other. Luckily we all got along so well. I think it was really easy for us to just become friends and like a family.
What is one thing we should know about the group dynamic behind-the-scenes?
Garrett: We all give each other such a hard time. We joke and we play pranks!
Maia: We’re kind of like siblings. We joke around and we’re comfortable enough around each other to just be real.
Garrett: One time I found my clothes in a microwave. So…
Maia: Two hours after someone had hidden them there!
Grace: Luckily, the microwave wasn’t on so the clothes were fine!
Ross, Teen Vogue called you "the next Zac Efron." How do you feel about that comparison?
Ross: That’s actually more Garrett, I think! Generally I don’t really think about that sort of thing. It is a bit interesting, just to think about all the success that Zac Efron had.
Maia: Ross, you have a very different career though. He’s predominantly as an actor and you’re also a musician.
We know Ross is in a band, R5, but is anyone else doing their own music outside of this movie?
Garrett: I think we’re all musically-inclined and we all do our own thing with it. Any one of us could decide to do something with it. Maybe in time.
Maia: I love to sing. For me, music is a very personal thing. I never thought I’d be doing anything professional with recording. I write music and play guitar so it’s definitely something that I do for myself. I don’t know if I’d want to share it. There’s so much already out there!
What about the dancing? Was that tough to learn or did you enjoy it?
Garrett: I had a blast.
Maia: Yes! But I won’t be auditioning for "So You Think You Can Dance?" anytime soon.
What was the most difficult piece you had to perform?
Garrett: Dancing on the sand is the easiest thing I’ve ever done. I’m kidding. It wasn’t. But I think it was really fun. I’ve done a lot of musical theater in the past, but to do something on location… it felt like a very theatrical movie. It could be easily transferred to a stage. It feels similar.
What are the ways you cope with stress on busy days on set?
Maia: Having an outlet, having something to escape to.
Grace: Yeah, having something other than acting to focus on is very important. I try to maintain being a person that any of my favorite writers would not hate. My mother’s advice to everything… "go to yoga!"
Teen Beach Movie premieres on Friday, July 19 on the Disney Channel.