By ANGELA DAWSON
Front Row Features
HOLLYWOOD—For three years, Bella Thorne was best known for her role as CeCe on Disney Channel’s “Shake It Up!” in which she played a dyslexic dancer. Dyslexic in real life, playing the character wasn’t too much of a stretch. Yet the determined 16-year-old hasn’t let the condition stop her from achieving her goals. To prove the point, she has written a novel, with some effort, due out next month. She earned an Emmy nomination in 2012 for TTI (“The Time I…”), a video in which she opened up about her struggles with her reading disorder.
A queen of social media, Thorne boasts more than five million Twitter followers and nearly eight million “Likes” on her Facebook page.
Earlier this year, the feisty redhead played Adam Sandler’s tomboy daughter in “Blended.” And now, she returns to the Disney fold, with a featured role in the family comedy “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.” In it, she plays Celia, the pretty and prissy high school girlfriend of Anthony (Dylan Minnette), the older brother of Alexander (Ed Oxenbould), who, after having a very bad day, makes the unfortunate choice to wish the same experience on his family. Jennifer Garner and Steve Carell star as the boys’ hapless parents, who try to make the best of a very bad day.
Celia is nothing if not focused, and what she is wants more than anything is to enjoy a problem-free prom. When her boyfriend’s family starts experiencing that terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, it definitely puts a crimp in her style.
Thorne, who is admittedly more easygoing than her onscreen character, explains why she thinks Celia’s not so unreasonable. Cozied up on a couch at a tony Beverly Hills hotel, she also spoke about penning her first novel and her growing roster of upcoming film projects.
Q: Celia’s not so mean, is she?
Thorne: Of course not. Prom is important. You wouldn’t want your husband ruining your wedding day, right? No, Celia’s just irritated, and when you’re irritated, you end up saying not so nice stuff. And then she’s just full out angry.
Q: Do you think Celia and Anthony will ever reconcile?
Thorne: Not gonna happen. In the original draft of the script, it did work out. She was supposed to come to Alexander’s birthday party at the end, but then they cut it.
Q: How much time did you spend shooting this?
Thorne: We shot this one for a long time. They added six extra weeks. Originally, I was only supposed to work three weeks on it. I was supposed to do a film with the Wayans Brothers. I had the funniest audition for them. I shoved donuts in my mouth. But I couldn’t do that film when they added extra weeks on this one. Someday, hopefully, I’ll get to work with them.
Q: You’ve got a bunch of films coming in the next few months and you’ve got a book coming out. You’re like the female James Franco.
Thorne: (squealing with delight) That’s so cool! If you call me the female James Franco, I will post it on my Instagram.
Q: When did you have time to write your novel, “Autumn Falls?”
Thorne: It was hard, I’m not gonna lie. A lot of things were thrown in and a lot of stuff was taken out.
Q: Was that on your bucket list—writing a book?
Thorne: No. After the TTI video came out, a lot of teenagers and parents were writing me about their struggles with dyslexia. A dad came up to me, crying. He said, “I want to tell you how much you mean to me.” He told me he was dyslexic too. He wanted to read to his 5-year-old daughter but couldn’t. He said, “As a father, it’s so hard not to be able to read your daughter a bedtime story,” and then his daughter said to him, “It’s OK, dad, because CeCe can’t read either.” I was like, “That’s beautiful,” so I wanted to write this book because I wanted to show kids that if I can write a book and I’m dyslexic, you can do it too.
Q: When did you start writing it?
Thorne: I had the story and I had a ghostwriter help me. I told her a lot of things that happened to me. But I wanted to write this as Autumn, not Bella. I started it last year, and it’s been finished for a little while now.
Q: You didn’t have a major typo in it, like what happens to the mom in “Alexander,” right?
Thorne: No. A really cool part of the book is the thank you page. It’s funny and weird. Everyone who has touched my life in some way is mentioned (in my book). Even my ex-boyfriend is mentioned as an inspiration for the love story in the book.
Q: You’ve also got a record coming out?
Thorne: Let’s not call it a record. I’m not sure what I’m doing with it. I just have all this music I’m making. “Call It Whatever” is the name of my album.
Q: What can fans expect?
Thorne: My album is about being a feminist. I’m a girl, and I deserve to be treated like a princess. I don’t care who you are. I know you don’t care who I am. So if you go on a date with me, you’d better be sending me flowers the next morning. It’s about girls ruling and being confident. My favorite song on the album is “Jersey,” which is really weird because I’m not necessarily a great songwriter. The song she’s all about being confident and I’m not going to chase you. I own this party, so you come to me. It’s very cool and girls need to think that way.
Q: You’re only 16, and yet you seem to exude a great deal of confidence. Where does that confidence come from?
Thorne: I gained it through working so much. I’m still not all that confident. All the time, you realize the things you’re not confident about, and yet there are times when you realize you’re more confident than you were last week about some thing. I grew up on “Shake It Up!” That was hard. I had all these eyes on me, judging me, telling me what to wear, how to look, how to act, do this, do that. That was tough. I ended up turning into somebody I didn’t like. I was somebody that wanted to please everybody else and make them like me. I don’t want to be that person and that is not the person I am now. If I like you, then I love you and want to make you happy and smile no matter what, and if I don’t like you, I’m not going to be fake. I used to have this high-pitched voice during interviews and now it’s lower pitched.
Q: How do you balance work and school and having time with your friends? Are you just super-organized?
Thorne: I wish it were that simple. I have no idea. It’s weird because things get messed up all the time. It’s kind of just run with it. It happened. Move on. The next time you can be perfect.
Q: You’ve got “Amityville: The Awakening” coming out soon. Is it another remake of the classic horror movie?
Thorne: No, it’s so different from “The Amityville Horror.” I just saw (the final cut) a few days ago. It’s more like a family drama. Cameron Monaghan plays my twin brother in the film. My character seems like a typical moody teenager in the film, but then when you see why she is, it’s so upsetting and so sad. You feel bad for her and it’s depressing.
Q: You also have “Home Invasion” completed. Was it fun doing those two scary movies?
Thorne: I love doing horror films. There was one scene where Natalie Martinez and I are supposed to be walking tentatively down this creepy hallway, and in one take we just started posing and strutting, just doing the most ridiculous things. We told (director Sean Carter), “You have to include this on the DVD as a gag reel because what horror movie has a gag reel?” It’s so scary and realistic that a home invasion could happen. It’s like kill or be killed movie.
Q: What’s next for you?
Thorne: Another film, but I can’t say what it is. I want to really promote the book. We’re doing a book tour of five cities. I also have “The Duff” coming out next year around the same time as “Amityville: The Awakening.”