Amanda Bynes bends her gender in She's the Man.
In the new comedy She's the Man
(in theaters now), Amanda Bynes
plays Viola, a soccer star forced to get her kicks by masquerading as her twin brother, Sebastian. Along the way, of course, all manner of hunky guys and ironically attracted girls find themselves mesmerized by this gal in disguise. Was Bynes able to pull it off? Should Felicity Huffman
be looking over her shoulder? And more to the point, is the perky What I Like About You
star ready to kick some Natalie Portman
butt this weekend? Here's what Bynes shared with TVGuide.com in a fun one-on-one.
TVGuide.com: Seeing She's the Man almost — and my AP English teacher will be happy to hear this — made me want to actually read Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, on which it is loosely based. Or at least revisit the CliffsNotes.
Amanda Bynes: Good! The writers sort of wanted to keep it somewhat similar, but yet it's totally different. It's a fresher version and all that.
TVGuide.com: What have you been up to this week?
Bynes: I've been busy promoting the movie on The View, Today, TRL, which I hosted.... But we've been having fun, too. We traveled to Minnesota, Chicago, Boston, meeting kids in different high schools.
TVGuide.com: With What a Girl Wants and Big Fat Liar, this is your third name-above-the-title movie. Still, are you nervous about proving you can "open" a film?
Bynes: I am really nervous. I'm really nervous. I could not sleep last night.
TVGuide.com: Unfortunately, you have Natalie Portman to beat for the box-office title. If only based on that Saturday Night Live rap video, she can be a tough chick.
Bynes: I heard that she was hilarious in that. I'm a big fan of hers.
TVGuide.com: Is it part of some strategy to do a high-concept, highly commercial project like this at this juncture in your film career? I'm sure the first choice for a pretty gal like yourself is not to spend much of 105 minutes dressed as a guy.
Bynes: You know, I've always liked doing comedy — I grew up doing All That and The Amanda Show — and I've never been afraid to look stupid or different. It's something that keeps me changing and fresh. I don't feel like I've ever done the same thing, and as an actress, I couldn't ask for anything more.
TVGuide.com: Were you like, "At least She's the Man opens with a bikini scene, allowing me to flaunt my girly-girliness before I turn into a boy"?
Bynes: Yes, that's the point [of the opening sequence]! [Laughs] I literally had no shame about "girling it up" and curling the hair.... I wanted to feel like a girl!
TVGuide.com: This is where I ask you: "Amanda, what was the hardest part about playing a boy?" Was it the voice, the walk...?
Bynes: The hardest part was having to go without makeup, because I am a girl and I enjoy it and I believe I benefit greatly from it! [Chuckles] I would always try to sneak in some eyeliner, and the makeup artists would slap my hand. "I just want some definition! No one will know!"
TVGuide.com: Passing yourself off as a soccer star had to be tough, too. That's one of the hardest sports to begin with!
Bynes: I know! I didn't know that before we started playing, but it was so difficult. What people don't understand is you have to have such strength in your legs. I never had leg muscles before this....
TVGuide.com: Indeed, "Sebastian" had the skinniest legs of any soccer player I've ever seen.
Bynes: When I watched the movie, I was like, "My legs look so dainty!" I think I look like Peter Pan. But just like in Mrs. Doubtfire and Tootsie — where you never really think, "Wow, what a convincing woman Dustin Hoffman makes!" or "What a convincing baby-sitter Robin Williams makes!" — the joy in this movie is the fact that you want to believe [she's a guy]. You fell in love with Robin Williams because he's doing it because he loves his kids. Same with this — my character loves soccer. People will say, "Oh, she doesn't look or sound exactly like a guy," but that was the joke.
TVGuide.com: That was my next question: For comedy's sake, were you limited to achieving only a certain level of "convincing"? I have to think you could have sold us on "Sebastian" more.
Bynes: Exactly, a lot of it was written that way. At the screenings, nobody ever mentioned, "She doesn't really look like a guy," because it's a movie and obviously....
TVGuide.com: This is not Transamerica.
Bynes: This is not Transamerica. I love that movie and I'm a big fan of Felicity Huffman for doing that, but that wasn't a comedy. It had comedic beats in it, but this is a broad comedy where I come across as a cartoonish guy because Viola is so out of her element.
TVGuide.com: A pivotal scene takes place at a carnival kissing booth, raising the obvious question: Do kissing booths still exist?
Bynes: No, I don't think that they do. But they should.
TVGuide.com: What's next for you?
Bynes: I did a movie called Lovewrecked, which got picked up by the Weinsteins and is coming out later this year. I play this girl who's obsessed with a rock star (Related's Chris Carmack) and we end up stranded on an island together. But when I search through the jungle abyss, I realize that we're simply on the other side of the resort that we came from — and I don't tell him.
TVGuide.com: That's sounds cute. Now what's the status of WB's What I Like About You? A fait accompli?
Bynes: I don't know at this time. I don't think... I haven't heard anything, but we're all kind of moving on.
TVGuide.com: And you'd be OK with that?
Bynes: Yeah. I mean, I love the show and it was a lot of fun, but I've always wanted to be in movies. That was always my dream.
TVGuide.com: Your TV sister, Jennie Garth, is pregnant again, eh?
Bynes: She is! I am so excited for her because she has the world's most beautiful children, just beautiful kids. I was like, "Yeah, another Garth child!"