Rick Malambri and Sharni Vinson: Step Up's Lovers
Young newcomers Sharni Vinson and Rick Malambri both remember their dedication to dance as kids and teens; he to hip hop and street movies, she to classical ballet. To get to train night and day to play the dancing lovers in Step Up 3D was a step back to childhood passion for the duo.
At the Mondrian hotel on Hollywood's Sunset Strip, Sharni, a veteran of Aussie TV, is telling us how dance can really help teens who are concerned about weight and reveals that director Jon Chu teasingly asked both actors if they had any 3-D acting experience before they got the parts. Duh, it's the camera that's different, not the acting but Sharni fell for it.
Picture tall, gorgeous Rick in casual, bod-hugging gray shirt over gray, long-sleeved tee and jeans. Petite Sharni is in cammo Tee and dark pants, all accessorized by a cool pendant necklace. Let's bust a move with the stars.....
TeenHollywood: Rick and Sharni, the tango you do in this film is pretty steamy. Was that harder or easier to do than the hip-hop moves in the movie? it was sexy.
Rick: I felt like it was one of the easier dances for us to do. It was definitely more intimate than the others and it gave a completely different vibe for the film and was extremely fun to do.
Sharni: For, me, I think the tango was one of the 'funner' routines and easier because I trained in classical ballet and that has a beautiful switch-over to the tango. The elegance of what ballet is and embodies, really comes out in that tango. It was a lot of fun to shoot but I think it was simpler for me than some of the other dances that were crazy.
TeenHollywood: So Rick, are you a better dancer now that you've done the movie?
Rick: Definitely. Also, when I go out with friends, I dance even more now.
TeenHollywood: Sharni, you are from Australia and had been living in the U.S. for a year. How did you win this part?
Sharni: At first I was auditioning as an Australian because they didn't specify that they needed an American accent. For the final chemistry read with Rick, Jon (Chu, the director) threw at me to do it in an American accent. He said 'Now, do it without the accent' and I said 'I am' [laughter]. When I booked the movie, until I went to New York we weren't sure if I was going to play an Australian or an American. It was a last minute decision.
TeenHollywood: How do you feel about being a role model for dance as a positive message for young people, especially those who are worried about their weight?
Sharni: It's cool because dancing is just fun. That's what it's meant to be. It's everybody expressing themselves how they choose when they hear music. It should always flow naturally. It's a freedom of expression. It's an outlet and I don't think people associate exercise with anything fun, usually. Exercise is torture for most people and the good thing about dance is that you don't realize how many calories you've burned just by moving your body. We experienced that during the filming as well.
TeenHollywood: So you lost a lot of weight making the movie?
Sharni: We were on such an intense workout schedule. Everyone was like 'Wow, your body looks amazing in the movie. You must have been on a very strict diet'. I was actually on a diet of donuts and pizza and chocolate [laughter]. I was getting fed the most amount of fat they could possibly put into my little frame because weight was just falling off at the speed of light because you don't realize how many calories dance burns. If [teens and kids] just get out there and move a little more that's all it really is. It's an honor to be a part of [encouraging] that.
TeenHollywood: And there is some great music in this film.
Sharni: Right. There is a soundtrack here that you can't sit still to if you tried. Just throw the Step Up 3 D soundtrack on and I'm sure you'll burn at least a thousand calories.
TeenHollywood: Can both of you give us your dance background?
Rick: At the age of 13 I started break dancing as a hobby with a bunch of friends of mine. We got together and found this website that taught you how to dance step by step and we thought it was so cool because we had been introduced to Electric Boogaloo [the sequel to the 1984 breakdancing film Breakin'] and we started practicing wherever we could at any moment.
TeenHollywood: But you didn't keep that up into adulthood?
Rick: I kind of kept up with it but fell out of it as I got older and got into acting. But going into this training, we went through a month of intense, 10 hours a day, six days a week of choreography, Parkour and all these different styles and it really brought back all that hard work that I'd put in at an early age.
Sharni: I started dancing at about the age of five or six. I remember watching my mom. She was a dancer and my grandma was a dancer in a ballet company in England. It's just a third generation of performers in my family. I always knew I'd do something in the entertainment zone and it just so happens that dancing is something that I stuck with also, I gave it up about five years ago to pursue acting and I was on a show in Australia that took up 46 weeks of my year ["Home and Away"] so I didn't have too much time to devote to anything else.
TeenHollywood: But you obviously got back into it.
Sharni: Yeah. Since moving to the states, this audition and everything that's come out of it has really brought back my childhood passion of dance and made me realize how much it's a part of who I am and how lost I am without it. The training was intense, especially coming from a classical upbringing and ballet doesn't really fit to Flo [Rida's] stuff. I had to learn how to get down and dirty real fast.
TeenHollywood: Rick, how did you feel when you got this part? It's a nice break for you.
Rick: It was truly a breath of fresh air. I loved Step Up 2 and had watched Step Up one and was a huge fan of the franchise. I don't even remember how I reacted when Jon told me I got the film. I just remember standing on my balcony and screaming out very loudly. I remember Jon's joke about acting in 3-D. I just felt very fortunate to be given the opportunity to be a part of this franchise.