Wait: Wasn’t Selena Gomez just hospitalized for malnutrition after reportedly eating too much candy and junk food? Yet for our morning interview at the Four Seasons Hotel, in front of her sits her requested breakfast of French fries. On tap for lunch: pizza.
“My diet hasn’t changed,” says the 18-year-old singer/actress, whose album, “When the Sun Goes Down,” drops Tuesday and her movie, “Monte Carlo,” opens Friday. “I just probably need to incorporate a little bit more protein. Very little.”
Certainly Gomez’s many handlers—sitting in the room are her publicist and a studio rep who earlier referred to “Team Selena”—will make sure the young star eats her vitamins. Something else they’re surely monitoring: if the former “Barney” cast member and current star of Disney’s “Wizards of Waverly Place” can graduate to movie star. Of course, “Monte Carlo” isn’t exactly an edgy action blowout. In the family friendly film, Gomez plays both good-hearted Texas teen Grace and obnoxious British heiress Cordelia, whom Grace impersonates on a trip to Paris with her BFF (Katie Cassidy) and stepsister (Leighton Meester).
Before we move on: Texas-native and L.A. resident Gomez dates Justin Bieber, but if you’re looking for info on his kissing technique or how he smells, you’re reading the wrong publication.
While being Cordelia, how much did you think, “Oh, a person who’s constantly mobbed by the press; I think I understand this.”?
Well, the difference is she craves that and starts that. I avoid it at all costs, and she puts herself right in the middle of that. I’ve never experienced it like Cordelia. Cordelia has a lot of it, and she deals with it in a much different way.
Did playing her make you enjoy that stuff any more?
No. Even as pretend it was annoying. [Laughs.]
What’s annoying to you about that?
First of all, I don’t understand how a grown man with a camera would like to take pictures of an 18-year-old walking down the street. That just really bothers me.
Better than photographing a 17-year-old.
I guess, but they followed me since I was 16. It’s just a little weird for me and invasive.
How should girls convince their guys to see “Monte Carlo”?
For me it’s always, “You give and you take.” “I’ll go see ‘Transformers’ if you go see ‘Monte Carlo.’” That’s all you have to say.
Do you have an example of when that’s happened in your relationship?
No, but I grew up with all the guys down the street, and I was one of the guys growing up. I was a big tomboy. So whenever we’d come to those moments where I wanted to watch, like, “A Walk to Remember,” I’d always say, “You guys, all you do is do boys’ stuff, so you have to do this for me.” And then they’d get mad and sit down and watch with me.
You’ve got an appearance at the Orland Square Mall. Last year, Zac Efron told me that even burly security guards and cops sometimes cover their eyes and ears and get freaked out during those events. What goes through your head in that setting?
I never get freaked out. I think I have much different fans than boys do. It’s different for me. I actually enjoy it. I’ve never been scared. The only instant I’ve been scared is if my fans are going to get hurt.
How are fans different for you than for male actors?
Because if I saw Zac Efron, I would probably hyperventilate and scream. But if I saw Rachel McAdams or a girl actress that I loved, I would almost feel like she’s relatable and I would just want to go up and say hi to her. And that’s how my fans are. I feel like my fans are so cool, I should probably have lunch with my fans. Whereas I’m sure Zac probably couldn’t understand … ‘cause he’s like gorgeous.
You’ve never had a male fan shrieking and crying in front of you?
No, my male fans are cool, that’s the good thing. They try and be slick. Like, “Hey, what’s up?”
Does a particular line come to mind?
No. I mean, they’ve given me flowers and have asked me out a couple times, which is cute.
Compare working with a horse on “Monte Carlo” to your past experience working with a dinosaur [“Barney”].
[Laughs.] Well, the dinosaur was a very cute 27-year-old guy that was really nice. And the horse was really fun and very sweet and I had a great time riding the horse. The polo was miserable. I hated doing polo. But I really loved the horse.
Why did you hate the polo?
‘Cause I’m horrible at it. It was hard. I could not get it down, and it was really irritating me.
How would you feel if you were locked in a room and forced to listen to “I Love You, You Love Me” 1,000 times in a row?
I have! I grew up doing that. So it’s kind of become part of my vocabulary, and I have lots of people that come up to me and sing that song.
How many languages can you sing it in?
Only one, unfortunately.
How do you compare your acting and singing skills?
For me my music is fun. I don’t really take my music that serious. I love inspiring people and I love making good music, but I don’t stress about it. I don’t think I’m ever going to win a Grammy, and I’m OK with that. Acting is something I work really, really hard on that I throw myself into a situation where I do work 18 hours a day. And I do hope to see longevity. And I hope to be rewarded with really great people and great actresses and people I get to work with, so I hope [that’s what happens].
Then is acting the A track and singing the B track?
Kind of, but not even that. I do enjoy my music; I’m very passionate about the music. I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t be able to sing and tour and all of that’s really fun. I just think for the sake of when I’m 20, 23, 25 and I’m a little bit exhausted, I think I’m going to stick to acting.
Speaking of exhaustion, how are you feeling these days?
Good, I’m much better, thank you.
I was wondering: How much candy is too much candy?
Uh, I don’t know. When you start getting sick. Or replacing it for actual food. Which I’ve done before too.
Like instead of a salad …
… or a sandwich, I’ll have M&M’s. ‘Cause I’m traveling, it’s easy to do.
You’ve been to Chicago once before. What goes through your head when people talk about the city?
Well, first of all I think it’s beautiful. It’s one of the most beautiful cities I think I’ve ever been to. The shopping is nice, the people are nice and the accents.
Some of us in Chicago think we don’t have accents.
I think you do a little bit. I’m from Texas.
Do you think you don’t have one?
I really don’t. I say “y’all” a lot.
You have a cameo as yourself in the upcoming film “The Muppets.” Who’s your favorite Muppet?
I think Piggy … she’s a diva. I don’t know if I could handle her all the time. I like all the little ones. The little ones are really cute. I wouldn’t know their names, but they’re really cute.
Which one do you have the most in common with?
I haven’t had in-depth conversations.
They didn’t talk to you much on set?
They did, but it was more surface-y stuff.
Many Disney stars have succeeded as adults and many have struggled. How much do you think about that?
I think about it, but I’m not worrying about it. I don’t know if I will be able to make the transition because it’s going to be a hard one, and there [are] probably a lot of adults that probably don’t take me seriously in the film industry. But at the same time I’m not a ballsy kind of girl.
Why do you say that?
I’m very mellow. That’s how I am, that’s how I was raised and that’s how I’ve been. So I don’t think I’ll be doing anything that would make me uncomfortable or make my fans uncomfortable. At this point in my life, at least.
What do you think is the secret to making the transition?
Patience. Guidance. The right guidance. And choosing the right roles.
I saw a video labeled “Bieber Supports Gomez At Premiere,” not, say, “Gomez Is Awesome At Premiere.”
Aww, thank you.
What do you think about what the video was actually called?
That’s fine. Comes with the job. Obviously I don’t want that to be the title. I had a very fun night with Leighton and Katie and we were there promoting our movie, so obviously I wish it was more about that.
What did you think the first time you saw the sites about lesbians who look like Justin Bieber?
[Laughs.] You have to laugh at things like that. There’s nothing else you can do.
Who are the more talented magicians between “The Wizards of Waverly Place” and “Harry Potter”?
[Harry Potter.] I wave a wand. I just sit there and do this. [Waves hand.] They do a lot of intense things.
You shouldn’t sell yourself short. Can you do any magic tricks now?
No. See? I don’t sell myself short. I know what I’m capable of, and that’s that.
On roles she wants to take on: “I’m open to all of it. Comedy, drama, romance, thriller, all of it.”
If there’s a time she’d disassociate from Disney: “Obviously I wouldn’t do another series, but I don’t dislike the channel. The channel has done a lot for me, so I would say I want to keep my relationship with them. If there’s a film opportunity that comes up that I think is good I’ll do it.”
On her iPod: “Everything. I have Bruno Mars, Adele, Rihanna, Taylor [Swift], I have a wide range. Mumford and Sons.”
On concerts she’ll miss while she’s on her own summer tour: “I’m so mad I’m going to miss the Britney tour with Nicki Minaj, I’m going to miss Taylor’s tour. I’m so bummed.”
On not worrying about typos for her nearly 6 million Twitter followers [She’s @ selenagomez]: “Oh, I mess up all the time. I don’t care. I’m totally fine with messing up.”
Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Fridays at 7 a.m. on WCIU, the U