Meaghan Jette Martin
As far as teen movies go, 10 Things I Hate About You ranks near the top, perhaps even trumping Clueless as a cult favorite, depending on who you ask. And like Clueless, the 1999 romp — which launched the careers of Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles — has hit the small screen (Tuesdays at 8 pm/ET, on ABC Family). "The movie is such a wonderful, classic teen comedy. ... We're breathing new light into it," Meaghan Jette Martin, who plays socially ambitious Bianca Stratford, tells TVGuide.com. "It's like opening it up to a new generation of kids." Find out what else the 17-year-old has to say about the show, how she masters that French accent and what she has to say to the haters.
TVGuide.com: Larry Miller, who was in the 10 Things movie, is also on the TV show. Have you heard from any of the movie's other stars?
Meaghan Jette Martin: Unfortunately, I didn't get to go to the premiere party because I was working! [Laughs] But there were a lot of the original cast at the premiere party and all of our cast members who got to go said they were very encouraging. And a couple of them want to guest on the show, which I think would be super-cool. They could play our teachers or something.
TVGuide.com: A lot of die-hard fans of the movie feel there shouldn't be a TV show, especially now that Heath has died. What do you think about that?
Martin: That's such an interesting thing because the movie is an adaptation of The Taming of the Shrew and Shakespeare passed away. Was the movie disrespecting Shakespeare? And Kiss Me Kate is a musical based off of Taming of the Shrew, [just like] 10 Things I Hate About You. Just because we're using the same title and character names doesn't mean we're trying to take away from the movie, because it's still an awesome movie. And obviously [director] Gil Junger and Larry Miller wouldn't be behind it if they didn't think it was worth it. And if people remember correctly, Heath Ledger actually wasn't so proud of the movie. He did not want to do a teen comedy.
TVGuide.com: Was this show in development before Heath died?
Martin: It actually was. That kind of put off development a bit because they obviously said, "Oh, now it's going to be a little bit touchy." But they decided Heath probably wouldn't care. I would bet $2 million that if Heath was still alive and somebody said, "Hey, we're going to remake this movie," he'd probably say, "Oh, that's great. Have fun." I know that's how I'd feel. If somebody were to remake Camp Rock 20 years from now, I'd be like, "Go for it!"
TVGuide.com: In the movie, Bianca's already popular, but on the show, she's trying to become popular, first by trying out to be a cheerleader. To what lengths will she go? There's a bit of a showdown in the second episode between her and Chastity.
Martin: Bianca would do anything to be popular! [Laughs] It's a little sad. She really thinks [being popular] is the only way she can be successful in life. I'm sure we can go really deep into that because her mom passed away at a young age and her father's struggling to raise two children, so she seeks others' approval to make herself feel better.
TVGuide.com: How much of her can you relate to?
Martin: I think everyone to a certain degree wants to be accepted. Even Kat, who tries so hard not to be accepted, by standing out is still being accepted. I wasn't quite as extreme as Bianca, but I think that's what makes her a funny character.
TVGuide.com: Kat goes to prom for Bianca in the movie. Are we going to see any of those sisterly favors?
Martin: There's going to be a dance in Episode 8. It's a true and honest relationship between Kat and Bianca. I have an older sister and we fight and bicker, but in the end we love each other and we make sacrifices for each other and help each other out.
TVGuide.com: How about Bianca and Cameron? He's teaching her French and she doesn't care. You do a really good accent, by the way.
Martin: [Laughs] That's because Nick Braun's really good! I literally just copy exactly what he says. He took French throughout high school and he has a brother from France, so he really knows [the language]. But the Bianca-Cameron relationship is super-sweet. I'd be totally in love with Cameron if he were a real guy! Unfortunately, he's not. Bianca hasn't quite seen how great Cameron is — and she probably won't for a little while.
TVGuide.com: One of my pet peeves is that Patrick does not talk at all. Ethan Peck has the easiest job in the world — just show up and brood in the corner.
Martin: I love that! Ethan and I joke about it all the time. He does eventually have more depth to him and more of a storyline, but he's still more of the silent, strong type. Things are going to be steamy [between Patrick and Kat]. There's going to be the TV version of [the movie's paintball scene]. You have to see. I think it's Episode 7.
TVGuide.com: Do you think Ethan has the most "pressure" on him since he's playing Heath's character?
Martin: Yeah, and also because he's Gregory Peck's grandson. But Ethan is ridiculously talented. It's amazing how well he knows Patrick. I just had my first scene with Ethan. [Bianca and Patrick] were never around each other, so it was fun doing that scene with him.
TVGuide.com: Will you be back for Camp Rock 2?
Martin: I will. I will be up in Canada filming at the end of August.
TVGuide.com: That's going to be based on Shakespeare as well — Romeo and Juliet.
Martin: Shakespeare and I, we are totally getting tight right now!
TVGuide.com: That's like Julia Stiles. She did 10 Things, then Hamlet and O.
Martin: That's true! I'm copying Julia Stiles. [Laughs]