In an exclusive interview, star Mollee Gray talked about the appeal of such diverse characters and films and what to expect from both DOUBLE DADDY and TEEN BEACH 2.
What initially drew you to the film DOUBLE DADDY and the role of Amanda?
MOLLEE: Actually, it’s a cool story. I didn’t even audition for the movie. I got a call from my manager asking if I was interested in the script, saying that they wanted to offer me the lead role. Once I read the script, I was like “for sure!” It’s been great because I’ve done a lot with Disney, so to do something a bit darker and a little more twisted like the role of Amanda in DOUBLE DADDY is so up the alley I wanted to go for.
How would you describe Amanda?
MOLLEE: Amanda is a go-getter. She does really well in school. She goes to camp to be a counselor and she loves her family. She loves her boyfriend more than anything in the world. She is very reasonable and tries to understand. She holds herself together very well, but sometimes she just breaks down when life gets too hard.
What did you find darker and more interesting about this role?
MOLLEE: Amanda faces a lot of trials. One, obviously, her boyfriend cheats on her and she has to deal with that; and then, she becomes pregnant and has to figure out kind of her whole life at age 17. That’s never easy on a 17 year old. So she goes through a lot with her family, and the other girl that her boyfriend got pregnant is kind of a psychopath and out to get her. So Amanda is also trying to protect herself from that crazy girl.
What is one quality you most admire about Amanda?
MOLLEE: I really love that she is very accepting of the situation she’s in. She may not like it, but she’s very accepting and very realistic.
What’s up with the crazy chick Heather (Brittany Curran)? Why does she want to get rid of Amanda?
MOLLEE: You will find out when you watch, but she’s just kind of crazy. She didn’t grow up in a good family and she does a lot of things for attention, and Amanda kind of got in her way when she wanted to have Connor (Cameron Palatas) to herself. And Amanda’s like, “Who are you? I don’t even know who you are. You don’t even go to our school.”
Should we be rooting for Connor and Amanda, or is he dead to her at this point?
MOLLEE: I would definitely say you can root for Connor and Amanda.
As an actress, what surprised you working on DOUBLE DADDY?
MOLLEE: It was short duration of filming. It was only about 3 and 1/2 weeks and everything was very fast-paced. I had just gotten off set for TEEN BEACH 2, where we had a lot more time and we had a little more leeway having little breaks here and there. There was a lot more time making TEEN BEACH 2 and then for DOUBLE DADDY, we had a strict schedule and Amanda was like in every scene, so that was new too. It was exciting to be constantly on edge and I was always just going and going. I never had a moment to second guess what I was doing. I just had to be very confident. It was a big eye-opener and I learned a lot from doing the movie.
What do you think you learned working on the film?
MOLLEE: Before I would try to relate myself to the character as much as possible, but Amanda and I don’t have too much in common. So I wasn’t trying to relate myself to her, I was just trying to put myself in Amanda’s situation, which was kind of cool because I got to play a completely different person. I definitely wasn’t pregnant at 17 or having someone come after me and trying to kill me. So it was fun to put myself in a completely different scenario.
Were there any issues that came up in trying to portray a pregnant person?
MOLLEE: I did a lot of research, especially about teen pregnancy. I watched TEEN MOM to kind of see mannerisms and you will see Amanda with a couple bellies as I get bigger throughout the movie. The belly that was put on me just felt so real, like my back would ache. I was like, “Oh man, I can feel this belly on me.” And naturally, my hand would just want to rub my stomach. So I did not always have to act like I was pregnant, it kind of felt like I was at times.
If you could sit Amanda down, what kind of advice would you like to offer her?
MOLLEE: I would just say: “Listen to your parents.” I feel like Amanda really was in her head a lot and didn’t want to talk about her issues. I think she should have been more open to getting feedback from her parents and to get the help that she needed rather than staying in her head the whole time.
For you, what was the funnest part of portraying Amanda in the film?
MOLLEE: It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve always wanted to play a twisted character. With all my acting success already, it has all been comedy and Disney or romantic-comedy and just really wanted to play a dark and twisted character. So just walking on set and knowing I was going to be this crazy, different person was already rewarding.
Having come off TEEN BEACH 2 and then working on DOUBLE DADDY, did you feel like there was a nice transition between the two roles?
MOLLEE: I was actually really happy. I’ve always wanted to do a dark, twisted role, but my loyalty is always going to be with Disney. I have been with Disney since I was 12 years old and they have been so great to me. They started a huge platform for my career. I never wanted to go against what Disney represents and trying to find a balance of having a role that is a little older and darker, but not so extreme that I would have let down the Disney offices or even the fans of Disney — I would not want them to be uncomfortable — so I think this role on DOUBLE DADDY was a good role leading into more adult roles and acting career, rather than just jumping right into it.
What can you share about TEEN BEACH 2? What’s the gang up to this time?
MOLLEE: The gang of West Side Story, we’ve got a rude awakening — a little bit. Lela (Grace Phipps) and Tanner (Garrett Clayton) had decided to join Mac (Maia Mitchell) and Brady (Ross Lynch) in the modern day world, and when they left, things started happening in our world because the movie wasn’t the way it was supposed to be. So we have to figure out how to get them back. As character in a movie, you don’t realize or understand what it is like to be in the real world because you don’t know you are a fake character. So it was really fun to just kind of be oblivious when we got into the real world and act like we had no idea what was going on.
How much fun was it to reunite with the cast and explore this world of TEEN BEACH 2 a bit more?
MOLLEE: Oh my gosh, it was so fun! Not a lot of us knew we were having a sequel. We knew that there probably would be, but there was never confirmation because Disney tried to keep it on the down-low. So they called us one day and said, “Hey, you’re doing the sequel and you start rehearsals tomorrow.” And it literally felt like a family reuniting. We see each other off-set when we have time, but a lot of us are super busy. So the fact that we got to be busy together filming this movie and we got to be together another two months was just incredible.
How did it feel different this time? Were the roles expanded? Was it more challenging?
MOLLEE: I’d say every character got to play a different part in the movie because everyone had to figure out what it was like to be in modern day. So we got to play the same character stuff, but trying to play your character in the modern day world, that offered a bit more of a challenge in the acting. Yet it still feels the same with a quirky cast of characters.
Did you return to Puerto Rico for filming of TEEN BEACH 2?
MOLLEE: Yes, and it was beautiful! We got to have weekends off and the last movie we did all the touristy things — we saw waterfalls, we saw Old San Juan and we kind of did everything you could in Puerto Rico — and this time, we were like, “We’ve done it. Let’s just lay on the beach every weekend.” So we’d swim out to these little floaty things and hang out on these floating docks every weekend and just chill.
What was one of the more interesting surprises working on the second film?
MOLLEE: We all kind of expected the sequel to be better, but the realization that it was actually so much funnier — and we didn’t think it could be funnier because the first one was so funny — but the second one is funnier. And the dances, we didn’t think they could get any better and yet the dances were so quick and the music is great. The dance is very hard and very fast, so it was like we were in Puerto Rico training — but it was pretty awesome!
What do you think the fans are really going to enjoy about TEEN BEACH 2?
MOLLEE: (Laughs) The fans are going to love Garrett in this movie, who plays Tanner. He is so funny! We got a little sneak peek of the movie recently and we were raving about how funny Garrett is. He just got some really cool moments of the jokes. He got all the perfect jokes that the fans are going to love. Then Giggles has her own little moment of her iconic shake that kind of helps the gang figure out what to do, which is super funny too. That was fun to film. The sequel is just so funny. I just want to watch it again. Everyone is just going to die — it’s so great!
Look for the premiere of DOUBLE DADDY on Saturday, June 6th at 8:00 p.m. on Lifetime and for the premiere of TEEN BEACH 2 on Friday, June 26th at 8:00 p.m. on Disney Channel.
SENIOR ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER | Tiffany covers events such as San Diego Comic-Con, WonderCon and press junkets, as well as covering events at the Paley Center in Beverly Hills. She has a great love for television and believes that entertainment is a world of wondrous adventures that deserves to be shared and explored. Tiffany is one of the newest members to the prestigious Television Critics Association and is happy to be able to share her passion for television shows with an even wider audience of fans and her fellow critics..