Haylie Duff sat down with JustJared.com last week after her appearance on MTV’s Total Request Live, where she promoted her new reality show, Legally Blonde the Musical: The Search for Elle Woods.
In the show, MTV follows 10 young women as they compete for the starring role in the Broadway musical based on the hugely popular movie, Legally Blonde. Helping them along the way is Haylie, who herself starred on Broadway in Hairspray as Amber Von Tussle.
While backstage at the MTV studios in NYC’s Times Square, the 23-year-old singer/actress talked about why you should tune into Legally Blonde, as you should any reality TV show. There’s plenty of fighting, crying, and backstabbing. But now all of this with Broadway jazz hands (manicured, of course)!
Click inside to read what Haylie had to say about Legally Blonde, her other upcoming movies and her boyfriend Nick Zano…
JJ: Considering your Broadway experience in Hairspray, what advice did you have for the girls on the show?
HD: We told them they had to be here for the right reasons. You have to really want this. It can’t be about wanting to be famous or something like that. It’s gotta really be about the work. All the girls showed us that and it was not one of those things…like on the Bachelor, they just want to be on TV. But these girls were more upset that they had to do it the ‘TV way.’ They were all incredibly talented and you couldn’t have one that just wanted to be on TV because the talent in the top 10 was unreal.
JJ: Did you have theater experience prior to Hairspray?
HD: No, never. But I did a Shakespeare play when I was in 5th grade.
JJ: So how did you prepare for Hairspray?
HD: A lot of the things we did with the girls on the show are the things I did myself to prepare. But it was just a lot of rehearsal and a lot of hard work. You have to learn the show in two weeks. I don’t think I knew what I was getting myself into until the first show. In rehearsals I thought, this is easy. I grew up dancing. ‘I got it, I got it, it’s gonna be fine.’ The first show, I wasn’t really nervous for. It was during the curtain call of the first show that I stood there holding hands with everyone and I was like, “Oh my gosh…it’s kind of insane what I was just did. I can’t believe I did what I did and made it through.” I think I was probably more nervous for my second show than my first, but I don’t know, it’s weird to be around all the Broadway stuff again because I’m not doing theater anymore, I’m doing movies. It makes me miss that energy. There’s nothing like it.
JJ: Did you follow (the other reality TV show searching for a Broadway star) “Grease: You’re the One That I Want?”
HD: You know, I never actually watched that. I know the show and I’ve seen the commercials…but I don’t know how to compare it to that because I didn’t watch it. I saw the two people that won it in Grease, and they were wonderful and I think they’re still doing the show, but yeah I think it’s great to be able to use TV and that medium and bring attention to theater. It’s so difficult to get people aware of new shows, to get new shows launched and it’s so difficult. There’s so many that don’t ever get legs, so it’s nice to be able to use that to bring attention to it.
JJ: What happens to Laura Bell Bundy’s current understudy? Did she get shafted because she’s being replaced with someone from the show?
HD: I don’t know who her understudy on the show is. I don’t know if I’ve met her but normally what I think happens is if they don’t find a replacement for whoever is playing the role then the understudy will step in. But the majority of the time, the understudy stays the understudy no matter who is playing the role, which is nice.
JJ: Can you talk about your upcoming two films?
HD: One of them is called Backwoods and that comes out on the 8th. It’s a TV-movie for Spike TV. It’s a thriller. And then I just finished one called Deep Cove, and that one’s a thriller as well.
JJ: Why all the thrillers?
HD. I’d never done them before! Backwoods was the first one I’d worked on that was like that, and I has so much fun doing it, and I got to do a few more action things in Deep Cove, like stunt-wise, and that’s why I look the way I look right now. This is always a good look. Band-aid. After I did Backwoods, I wanted to do something where I got to do more action so in Deep Cove I got to hang off a mountain and do some other stuff.
JJ: Is that a theatrical release, or a TV-movie?
HD: It’s an independent film but they have theatrical releases throughout Canada and I know they have a DVD deal in the US but I think they’re doing a limited release here as well.
What else… I’m doing Tug, I start that on the 15th, and that’s not a thriller. It’s a really simple story about three people that I guy that can’t get over an ex-girlfriend.
JJ: Is that you?
HD: Yeah, I’m the ex-girlfriend. She kind of holds this control over his life even after the breakup because he can’t let go and she uses it to her advantage. Anyone that meets him that’s good for him or loves him or that he could love, he messes it up because of this girl. So it’s this very simple story about people and relationships.
JJ: Are you currently working on a debut album or is that a rumor?
HD: I’m not! I don’t know where that came from! People were saying I have an album coming out called “Walk the Walk?” I hope someone would have stopped me if I was gonna name my album “Walk the Walk.”
JJ: You wrote two songs on your sister’s album right?
HD: Yeah, I’ve written like seven or eight songs for her albums, and I write for soundtracks and things like that. I did the Sweet Sixteen song for MTV. I love music and it’s something that I care a lot about.
JJ: You did the theme song for Sweet Sixteen?
HD: Yeah, I wrote and produced it. That’s enough of an outlet for me right now. I don’t know what I’d do for an album. Until I know exactly what I want to do, I just don’t want to put my energy into it yet.
JJ: So obviously fake rumors come up all the time. Do you follow the blogs and news on the Internet?
HD: Well my mom has Google Alert, so I see a lot of stuff.
JJ: Do those things faze you?
HD: I think the stuff that’s mean is just gonna be hurtful That stuff, I don’t look at or pay attention to but as far as the blogging, I think everyone should have that voice and I think its neat that you can create an outlet for yourself and you can build a fan base on your writing. I think everyone should have the opportunity to do that. People try to do that all the time and I don’t think everyone is as fortunate as your blog.
JJ: So what’s on your iPod right now?
HD: A lot of old music actually. I put Gladys Knight back on my iPod. When they did that tribute with Jack Black, that was so funny. I have a lot of Gladys Knight right now. I’m still listening to James Morrison, I love him. Kate Nash. I’m listening to Eddie Vedder. I know that’s so random. The Into the Wild soundtrack…totally into. It changes all the time. I listen to a lot of old music, so its mainly like Bob Dylan and older stuff like that. Should I say Hilary Duff? I have Hilary Duff on my iPod.
JJ: Are you two very supportive of each other’s careers? (Haylie is Hilary’s older sister.)
HD: Yes, of course.
JJ: Do you try to differentiate yourselves from each other?
HD: It’s funny because in an industry where everything is so calculated and every move is thought out, like what next move to make… But we don’t do that. We’ve just gone in different directions and worked on different things. But we’re so supportive of each other. She’s actually here in New York but working something else but for just a day. I haven’t seen her in like am month. I fly home and she flies home tonight so I finally get to see her. We’re extremely close. There was a rumor that was going around (that we got into a huge fight). It’s just so crazy. I think if we’re not photographed together for like a month or a couple of weeks, they think we hate each other all of a sudden. So, I don’t know. I’m excited to go home.
JJ. Do the paparazzi bother you? Does it affect you?
HD: They do, living in LA its different. They’re everywhere you go, they’re outside your house. That’s one of my favorite things about NY. It’s very anonymous and there’s like a level of respect. I mean there’s photographers at events but they’re not sitting outside all day. They do the hotel a little bit, but not badly.
JJ: You were in Vancouver for month? What were you doing there?
HD: I was doing Deep Cove there. I was actually right outside of Vancouver, not fortunate enough to be in Vancouver.
JJ: What do you do in your off-time?
HD: I mean I go out and definitely like to go dance and have DJs and drinks. MY work Is really important to me and I’m happy in a relationship and things like that, and I think when you’re single you’re looking for something is when you go out more. So I don’t go out all that much, but I like to. I just don’t always do it.
JJ: Who are you dating?
HD: His name is Nick [Zano] and he’s great. We’re very happy. But it’s weird because I’m on location so much that its hard to keep a social life when you’re working.