Vanessa Hudgens is kind of a good girl. At least that's what her Marie Claire interview makes her out to be: a "good girl gone badass," to be exact.
The "High School Musical" alum, 24, covers the fashion and beauty mag's October issue and her feature interview is all about being positive and having a healthy outlook on life — what else do you expect from an interview set on Indonesia's Nusa Lembongan beach with the subject indulging in a surfer's dream land?
"SO excited to be on the cover of @MarieClaire's October issue!" she tweeted Monday with a link to her interview with Ariel Leve. "Hits newsstands Sept 17th :) Check it outttt"
The Disney star is breaking away from her cultivated image (don't they all) by starring in Robert Rodriguez's upcoming flick "Machete Kills," which follows up her turn as a money-strapped sociopath in "Spring Breakers."
In the thriller, the actress plays a brothel worker named Cereza and stars alongside Sofia Vergara, Michelle Rodriguez, Jessica Alba and Lady Gaga.
"I'm so comfortable with myself — honing in on what I love and what makes me powerful," she said of the darker roles. "Things I've been doing lately, I'm super-proud of. So I don't really care if someone doesn't like it, because I love it."
Sounds about right for a girl recently placed on Maxim magazine's list of 100 hottest women. She and several Disney alums made the mag's top 10.
Hudgens found success early on thanks to her family's willingness to move four times and enable her star power, which came with the three-film "HSM" franchise. She said attention was "full-on in the beginning" for herself and costars Zac Efron and pal Ashley Tisdale.
"I'm a private person. Nothing can prepare you for that," she said, recalling an incident during a London press tour when "there were so many fans flocking our car, it was rocking back and forth — like we were the Beatles or something. It was bananas."
The few media blips on her otherwise squeaky-clean bio include media attention during her romance with "HSM" costar Efron, nude cellphone photos being leaked in 2007 and a Coachella drug scandal that she insists had nothing to do with cocaine and everything to do with white chocolate.
"I couldn't do anything but laugh," she said. "It's amazing how people like to create something out of absolutely nothing. I am human like everyone else. I am aware that there are people who look up to me. When mistakes are made, they aren't intentional, and I constantly push myself to be a better person."
Hudgens and Efron split in late 2010, and she's currently dating "The Carrie Diaries" actor Austin Butler, who was along for the surf-centric interview. The actress said having been in the spotlight has given her a self-preserving reflex.
"It's one thing to have a chat with someone, it's another to have them know your deepest, darkest secrets," she said. "Just because people enjoy watching you in films doesn't mean they have to know everything about your entire life."
And she's taken a cue from Oscar winner Meryl Streep, whose "longevity" she admires and aspires to.
"That's what my goal is, which is why I'm very picky about what I do, and I make sure I'm not doing the same thing over and over," Hudgens said.
But if she doesn't follow in Streep's footsteps, she's also willing to settle for "a vintage Mustang, kids and an Oscar."
In the interview, Hudgens, who describes herself as both an introvert and extrovert, is determined to focus on the positive things in life.
"I can be in a big crowd and get along, but I'm totally fine being by myself as well," she said. "A sense of knowing I'm a part of something bigger than myself has allowed me to enjoy life more ... and not worry about the little things ... like paparazzi."
Even her costars and boss weighed in on the gush fest.
"She's not jaded at all," said Selena Gomez, her friend and "Spring Breakers" costar. "The person you see and talk to is the same person I talk to."
"She was very protective," Gomez said of instance when they had to fend off papz. "I was distracted, and she took me aside and talked to me about who I am and what I represent. I felt safer after that."
"She's very mature for her age," said John Cusack, her costar in "The Frozen Ground," in which she plays a potential victim of serial killer Robert Hansen (played by Cusack).
"She was chained up and most of her clothes were off and [her character] had just been raped," he said. "She wasn't concerned about her ability as an actress. She was just on top of it."
And because of that, director Rodriguez has put her on his "go-to list."
"It's really how someone affects you in a room," he said. "I knew that I could toss her the ball and she could pull off whatever I threw at her."
And Hudgens was all about it.
"He's such a fantastic thinker and a really chill guy," she said. "The thing that he said that I really admired was that it's not him doing the work, but an outside entity, and he just opens himself up and goes from there."
Next on her list of collaborators: "Django Unchained" director Quentin Tarantino.
"Because he makes awesome badass flicks," she said.
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