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'Parental Guidance' teen star is acting veteran

By Michelle Solomon, Contributing writer
Published On: Dec 21 2012 11:32:30 AM CST
Bailee Madison in Parental Guidance

20th Century Fox

On the day of our interview, 13-year-old Bailee Madison was still reeling from her guest spot on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" the night before. It's not every day you talk to a teen girl who has just schmoozed Leno. "Jay's a cool guy," says Bailee, with an air of nonchalance.

Madison is as down to earth as a kid in her shoes can be. She's touring the country promoting her new movie "Parental Guidance," which stars Bette Midler, Billy Crystal and Marisa Tomei (it opens on Christmas Day). Her first leading role was in 2011 when she played opposite Katie Holmes in the horror film "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark." She's probably best known for her recurring role as Maxine on the television show "Wizards of Waverly Place," and garnered a large following from her performance in Disney's "Bridge to Terabithia."

Here's the At The Movies interview with Bailee Madison.

ATM: How was it working with Billy Crystal and Bette Midler?

BM: Working with Bette, especially, it was like a little mini Broadway show every day. She is a hoot. And Bette is a lot like me: she loves cooking, she loves Broadway and she loves music. We'd spend time talking together about the things we liked. Both Bette and Billy are very kind people.

ATM: Do you think you learned anything from them? They are both show biz veterans. Did they give you any parental guidance?

BM: I think what they showed me was how important it is when you're on a working movie set to treat others with respect. I really enjoyed watching them work.
ATM: What's your character like in "Parental Guidance."

BM: Her name is Harper. She's 12. She has a lot going on. She's an uptight violinist and a child prodigy. At the same time, she has her first crush on a boy at school. She's a bit awkward and dorky, but I think that's something that everyone can relate to. When Bette comes in as her cool and laid back grandmother, she's kind of torn between pleasing her mother, but she really likes how loose and fun her grandmother is. Harper is a great character and she has lots of different emotions in the movie and that was fun to play.

ATM: How did you break into acting and movies?

BM: I did my first commercial when I was two weeks old for "Office Depot." Then, when I was 5, I went to New Zealand for six and a half months to shoot "Bridge." The next year I was in Los Angeles for the premiere of that movie, and it kind of started there.

ATM: Where do you consider home?

BM: I'm from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and my mom likes us to go back to Florida because she says it keeps me grounded and she wants me to always remember where I came from.

ATM: Do you have any other passions besides acting?

BM: I love being the national spokesperson for Alex's Lemonade Stand. It's an incredible story. Alex Scott had childhood cancer and she realized that, even though she was only 4 years old, that she could make a difference and maybe help kids with cancer so they wouldn't have to suffer like she was suffering. I share the story of Alex whenever I can. She is someone who really showed that you're never too young to make a difference.

ATM: Do you have plans for the future to stay in acting?

BM: My goal one day is to write and direct. I want to do it all.

ATM: You have worked with so many famous names: Tobey Maguire, Natalie Portman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Hilary Swank, Adam Sandler, Jennifer Anniston, Katie Holmes and now Bette Midler, Marisa Tomei and Billy Crystal. Is there anyone you would love to be in a movie with?

BM: I would love to be in a movie with Sandra Bullock. She always chooses wonderful roles.

ATM: I became one of your followers today on Twitter. Now I'm number 159,207. How do you like being able to interact with your fans on social media?

BM: It is very cool, but at the same time it's scary. They are watching you and you have to please them. The fan base I have is not just girls, and it's not just kids, it's adults, too. But I will say that I do like being involved in the whole process this way. I'm so thankful for my followers; I don't like to refer to them as fans. Without them you can't do anything.