Moore accepts the perils of life in the public eye
By Andrew Noyes
Pop princess-turned-actress Mandy Moore and her Chasing Liberty co-star Matthew Goode casually munch on jelly beans in a suite at the historic Hay Adams hotel overlooking the White House lawn -- a fitting backdrop for an interview, since their film, opening tomorrow, is an enchanting tale of a first daughter fed up with her protective parents, Secret Service agents and the media, who monitor her every move.
Not unlike her character, Anna Foster -- whose Secret Service code name is "Liberty" -- Moore, 19, was catapulted into the public eye at an early age. But she doesn't claim to know what it's like to be Chelsea Clinton or Barbara and Jenna Bush.
"There is quite a bit of me in this film -- more so than any other character I've played in the past. Initially, when I read the script, I could find the parallels in my life, [but] I get off a bit easier. I can escape what I do, and people sort of leave me alone at the end of the day," Moore says. "I chose to go down this path in my life knowing full well that if things went OK, the chaos would ensue. Anna obviously didn't make any sort of decision like that. It was a constant in her life since Day 1."
The actress says it wouldn't have been fair to base her character on any real-life first daughters, so the inspiration for the effervescent Anna came from Moore's own experience as a teen-ager. But Moore, star of 2001's The Princess Diaries, 2002's A Walk to Remember and 2003's How to Deal, has had anything but a typical teen experience.
Traipsing up and down the red carpets of glitzy Hollywood and gaining status as a pop culture phenom are a far cry from acting in local musical theater in her hometown of Orlando, Fla. Moore is also known as a skilled songstress whose debut album went platinum just four years ago. She recently released Coverage, a compilation of classic hits by Carly Simon, Joni Mitchell and other veteran singer-songwriters.
In the film, Anna gets a taste of the autonomy she's been craving and engages in an impromptu European adventure while on a diplomatic trip to Prague with her parents, President James Foster (Mark Harmon) and first lady Michelle Foster (Caroline Goodall).
Incognito, Anna encounters the bewitching Ben Calder, played by Goode, an unknown Brit with serious heartthrob potential. Paying tribute to the 1953 Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn flick Roman Holiday, Ben accompanies sugary-sweet Anna on her tour of Prague, Venice, Berlin and all points in between. Spending time in Venice was the duo's favorite part of making the film.
"It's utterly the most romantic place you could ever hope to go," Moore says.
From their romantic gondola ride in Venice to a techno-infused time at Berlin's annual Love Parade, Anna and Ben are always a step ahead of her unrelenting bodyguards, agents Alan Weiss (affable Jeremy Piven) and Cynthia Morales (Annabella Sciorra of HBO's The Sopranos). While sparks fly between the pair, Anna dreads the day she has to fess up to her true identity -- but Ben is harboring a secret of his own.
Don't tell Moore's 21-year-old tennis champ boyfriend Andy Roddick, but on the silver screen, Moore and Goode display convincing chemistry. There's no real secret to fabricating a romance on film, the stars agree.
"We had fun with one another right off the bat. If you have that sort of friendship as a foundation, it's easy to build upon that," Moore says.
Thus far, Goode hasn't had to adjust to throngs of teen-age girls screaming his name, but Moore warns the day is near.
"We went to a couple of [movie] screenings, and there were young women throwing themselves at his feet and asking for hugs -- you know there's more of that to come, dude," she quips.
Goode just finished filming He Knew He Was Right, a miniseries for the BBC. Moore will be busy this spring starring in Saved, a film in which she plays "the perfect Christian girl" who uses her relationship with Jesus to take advantage of those around her, and will lend her voice to Racing Stripes, an animated film by director Frederik Du Chau.