momlogic's Vivian: The classic Ramona Quimby book series by Beverly Cleary has come to the big screen! "Ramona and Beezus" stars Selena Gomez, John Corbett, Bridget Moynahan, Ginnifer Goodwin, Josh Duhamel and incredible newcomer Joey King, who successfully captures Ramona's essence in her very first film role.
"It was so much fun to play her, because I got to put my own little spin on her," says King, 10. "Ramona's really quirky, crazy and out there. She's not afraid to use her imagination. If she didn't have those traits, she wouldn't be her own person." (As for King herself, costar John Corbett says she's like "a 36-year-old in that little shorty body.")
The cast seems to enjoy a tangible synergy, which makes their on-screen family unit extremely believable. King genuinely adores her on-screen big sis, Beezus (played by Disney sensation Selena Gomez), and even looks up to her a little bit. "I never got starstruck by Selena, because my mom always told me that any star is just a person like you," says King. "They brush their teeth in the morning; they put on their clothes. But it was extremely fun to work with Selena!"
Meanwhile, the fetching young Gomez -- who referred to King more than once as her "little sister" -- says she's way more Ramona than Beezus in real life. "I'd rather mess up a lot and just be quirky and a dork than try and be someone that I'm not and force cool feelings that aren't there, because I'm not," she said.
Bridget Moynahan, who plays mom Dorothy Quimby, says she mined her own experience as a mom (to son John, 2) for her performance. "I do think that becoming a mom allows me to understand more about being a mother on-screen -- the patience level that you need to have," she says. "Obviously, it's different when you have three instead of one!"
Far less complex than his good-dad-in-duress role on "United States of Tara," John Corbett's warm take on Robert Quimby will leave viewers of all ages longing for him to call them "Pickle." Although he is not a parent himself, Corbett says he draws from an array of personal "dad" references when tackling paternal roles.
"My biological dad and mom split when I was two," he says. "I was raised by my stepfather, which was great, but he sort of had instructions not to ever discipline me, so I got away with murder. I should've been disciplined, because I could say whatever I wanted and not get a whack. The good thing is, I never had a disagreement with him, from the time I was 5 until he passed last year. We had a total buddy relationship. Also, I grew up in a working-class, blue-collar town. I've seen all kinds of dads in action. My buddies had black eyes from drunk dads, but I never had all of that. I consider all these things when playing a dad."
Corbett bonded with his young costars by playing good-natured pranks on them while filming. "It's much different with these guys than working with actors who have been doing it for 20 years," he says. "They're just fresh and young and don't have baggage. When it came time for Selena's closeup, I just kept piling potatoes on her plate to try and make her laugh and screw up her lines. I asked Joey's mother if she could say the S-word at one point [when her character yells out 'Guts!' in the film] and shock the whole crew. We had a lot of fun!"
Director Elizabeth Allen admits she initially found the project extremely daunting. "What Beverly does that's so beautiful is, she takes tiny moments in a kid's life and makes them so big, so we can empathize with why taking a bad school picture is the worst thing in the world," she says. "When I was called about the project, I was honored and excited but had to think about it for a couple of days because it was a huge responsibility. It was a very pivotal book series that influenced my whole life. These books influenced generations! I cared for that character so deeply, I didn't want to screw it up!"
And I assure you, she didn't. "Ramona and Beezus" translates the main points of the books into a touching family film made 2010-relevant. Be sure to check out our full-length review, coming soon!