Michelle Trachtenberg: Classy Beauty
We remember reporting on beautiful actress Michelle Trachtenberg when she was only 10 and starring in Harriet the Spy. We've watched her transition to very hot young woman as she played Dawn on the "Buffy" TV series and a skating star in Ice Princess. The sharp-witted, talented and classy 23-year-old actress is going back to high school playing feisty Maggie, the teen daughter of Zac Efron in the age-twisting, funny yet touching new film 17 Again.
When we visited the set of the film last year, we were impressed with Michelle's funny hospitality for our interview in her trailer on a blustery beach night. That scene was moved to a bowling alley in the film when raw winds made a campfire shoot impossible. For our chat this time, we classed up the setting to Michelle's Beverly Hills Four Seasons Hotel suite where she confided her own teen angst when peers didn't want to be friends with "the actress". We talked about her respect for Zac's talent in a very serious 17 Again scene and her desire to do a musical some day. We also admired her very astute and awesome advice to young teens under peer pressure and to teen girls on putting themselves first when starting to date.
Michelle was wearing a gorgeous black velvet and silver, burn-out style top with jeans and we found out where you can get it! The actress has been in New York for the last two months shooting multiple episodes of "Gossip Girl" returning this season as the manipulating and deliciously wicked Georgina Sparks...
TeenHollywood: Soooo, we know you are coming back on "Gossip Girl". Was there ever a doubt?
Michelle: It's really wonderful to have the support of Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage, our Executive Producers and creators. They always think there's not enough Georgina in the "Gossip Girl" world. Any time they pick up the phone to call me, I accept happily and run to the set.
TeenHollywood: Some blogger was writing that he was watching Cruel Intentions for the first time in ages and when you are Georgina you really remind him of Sarah Michelle when she's mean girl Kathryn. Do you see that at all?
Michelle: Yeah. There was something really, really nice that a journalist said that Georgina is kind of like the combination of Sarah [Michelle Gellar] in Cruel Intentions and Heather Locklear on "Melrose Place" and I thought that was kind of neat with my own spin on things of course.
TeenHollywood: Hey I'd take that. When we talked to you on the set of 17 Again last year, you said you were "boring" when you were seventeen in real life. Now that you are a little older, do you now see the advantage of maybe not living like a wild party child at a very young age? Or do you wish you could go back and party more?
Michelle: No. I'm not really much one to look back and say 'oh, I shoulda, woulda, coulda'. I really do believe that everything you experience in life is to shape you into the person you are today. I was boring when I was seventeen. It's true! I read books. I liked to stay at home or I would choose to go on the audition rather than hang out with friends. I didn't have a lot of friends. A lot of kids found it difficult to 'be friends with the actress'. But, I was working all the time. At seventeen, I was wrapping "Buffy", shooting Eurotrip and about to go shoot Mysterious Skin.
TeenHollywood: Did you go through a phase with either parent where, like your 17 Again character Maggie, you were tuning them out with your music or just reading while they were talking to you? Or were you more polite than that to your parents?
Michelle: I was polite. My mom raised me. She's here right now in the other room. She came to visit. I am very lucky to have a great family support system and whatever my mom said goes. I think that's probably why I've kept so on track and I have not taken the plunge that a lot of the other young Hollywood starlets have.
TeenHollywood: Maggie kind of freaks when she misreads that her mom is getting romantic with Zac's character who is seventeen. You have an older sister. What if she or your mom went all "cougar" and started dating a much younger guy? Would that freak you?
Michelle: I totally wouldn't freak out. I've always dated older men so I understand. But, I think the ladies in my family are definitely into the older man kind of thing. But, even if one was to date someone younger, I forget who said it but 'love isn't a number' or 'age is just a number. Love isn't a number'.
TeenHollywood: Maggie is dating a real bad boy. Were you ever the teen who wanted to date the bad boys? If so, what is with that attraction? The danger?
Michelle: [smiles] I've dated a few bad boys.
TeenHollywood: You didn't know going in or you did know?
Michelle: I think you always know [we laugh]. There is an element of danger but it's also fun. It's the unconventional choice, maybe. It's sexy. It's exciting. You have to experience it at least once in your life. Why not?
TeenHollywood: It must have been weird for both you and Zac to play the emotional scene in which he comforts you after your break-up. Here is this guy who is two years younger than you in real life giving you "dad-style" advice. Did it make you want to just laugh at times?
Michelle: There was tons of laughter off camera but I think he did it really naturally. There's always laughter off camera because I'm definitely not a method actress so even if I'm crying, I'm still making jokes like 'how bloated does my face look right now?' [we laugh]. It's like 'Zac, can you wipe off my [running] mascara'? But, when you're in the scene, you're in the scene. You don't really break out of it, if it's a serious scene with something funny. The only time you can break out of a scene is when you are filming something funny and you just can't help but really laugh. But, there is nothing funny about Zac trying to be paternal. I really believe it.
TeenHollywood: Yeah, he seems like he's a nurturing, sympathetic guy. You seem to be able to still take on teen roles but also play more young adult characters. Will you say soon, 'no more teen roles'?
Michelle: I'm at the point where I'll be twenty-four in October. I know that physically, I'm playing a 16-year-old in this movie. It's the willing suspension of disbelief. I think mentally, in order for me to ever play at sixteen or seventeen-year-old again, it would have to be challenging. On "Gossip Girl", she's sort of ageless. She is obviously with, I was gonna say Blake and Leighton but Serena and Blair, but she is kind of ageless. Or maybe [I could play a teen] in an independent movie. But, mentally, I'm so much more my age and older. I can be a mature teen. I can't be the whiney teen anymore. Definitely, that's come to an end.
TeenHollywood: How close is your clothing taste and Maggie's?
Michelle: Completely different.
TeenHollywood: Is there anything she wore that you would like?
Michelle: I loved her clothes; the esthetic that she had. It was all like crazy dresses and hoodies and tights and boots. I'm a lot more... [looking at her current outfit, a beautiful black velvet burn-out look top with jeans] this is actually a Kate Moss for Top Shop. I'm actually a lot more subtle in my clothing tastes. Nothing that I own is brightly-colored at all. I'm more of a black, gray, white, navy, brown, purple kind of girl, I mean like plumbs. I don't wear graphics; a pattern is too much, maybe like a stripe every once in a while. It's important for me in my life to blend in as opposed to stand out.
TeenHollywood: That's unusual for an actress to say. It's refreshing. Zac has taken advantage of his singing and dancing talents. I know ballet helped you with Ice Princess. Do you ever want to be in an all-out musical or just not go there?
Michelle: Yeah, but it's a little bit of a fear for me, to be honest, to get up on stage and sing.. not the dancing, the dancing I'm totally confident in, just singing in front of people. Many people have been kind enough to tell me that I can sing and it's definitely something that I'd like to do one day. A musical is on my eventual 'to do' list.
TeenHollywood: There is such peer pressure now for young teens to play heavy drinking games and hook up way too young. What advice do you have for teens on this subject?
Michelle: I joke and say 'I was the perfect kid and I never did any of that. I really just respected my parents' and then if a teen is reading this and they're like 'well MY parents suck!' It's like 'okay, then respect yourself. What benefit are you gonna get?' I think a lot of kids forget to look at the repercussions, the personal penalties of their actions and I think there's a way to help them start thinking 'if you drink and get behind a wheel, you can ruin your life'. I think we have to stop sugarcoating it to teenagers and say, 'you can die. If you do a line of coke, you can have a heart attack'. These things are actual. It's a huge mistake to sugarcoat things for teenagers, especially with the internet now and all the information at your fingertips. They can learn everything. So, [parents], don't treat your kids like they're stupid. Give them respect.
TeenHollywood: Great advice! So, what's your advice for young women when they start seriously dating?
Michelle: I guess, in a nutshell, it's basically learning that you're your own woman and you have to be independent. You should never change to please a man. I think that's the biggest, most important thing. Make yourself happy and make yourself comfortable first. And, if he can't handle it, then kick him to the frickin' door!
TeenHollywood: You go, gurl!! We're with ya.