ORLANDO, Fla. – On April 6, the Disney Channel Rocks attraction at Walt Disney World shut its doors, and the last theme park reference to the glorious and profitable “High School Musical” franchise was gone.
But Ashley Tisdale, one of those who came to fame in the movies – as singing, sniping “mean girl” Sharpay – isn’t shedding a tear and isn’t looking back.
“It’s been a few years, so we’ve moved on and I guess the fans have, too,” Tisdale says, referring to the 2011 swan song, “Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure.” “But we had a great run.”
Tisdale, 27, a New Jersey native in “the business” since age 3, knows you can’t get sentimental over past work. She still does Disney projects – her Blondie Girl Production company just produced a Disney Channel film, “Cloud Nine.” But Tisdale left her “Disney Darling” (Saturday Night Magazine) image behind when she posed nude for Allure magazine a couple of years back. She even guest starred on the cable biker drama “Sons of Anarchy” last year.
And now she’s taken on “the blonde” role in the “Scary Movie” franchise, in essence replacing Anna Faris, who appeared in several of the earlier films in the series. Tisdale was surprised by the lengths the producers went to in order to ensure their horror parody “was totally up to date.”
In January, “I went to see ‘Mama’ (the year’s biggest horror hit) on opening weekend. Scared me to death. But at one point, I realized ‘Jessica Chastain’s a stepmom to these awful little girls. That would have fit perfectly in our film. Too bad we’ve wrapped.’
“Couple of weeks later, the phone rings, ‘Yeah, we’re doing re-shoots, adding ‘Mama’ to the movie.’ And they even got a reference or two to ‘Evil Dead,’ just working off the trailer to that one.”
Tisdale got to do a version of horror’s favorite stunt these days, a “money shot” that turns up in films from “Paranormal Activity” to “Evil Dead” – an actor or actress dragged suddenly out of the frame and into the darkness.
“They strap you in this harness, put your costume over it and yank you. It’s pretty simple. They don’t have to surprise you with it. Your reaction’s where the acting comes in. You’ve got to give them that terrified face as you’re pulled away from the camera. And you want to get it right the first time, because it’s not fun, getting yanked like that.”
Tisdale grew a worldwide fan base, thanks to “High School Musical” and the record deal (two solo albums thus far) that came from that. But she’s happy that the comically terrified mom – “STEP mom. Let’s not get carried away” – she plays in “Scary Movie 5” “is a me that people haven’t seen before. This is a lot edgier than anything I’ve been in before, and hopefully it’ll surprise people.”
She is set to co-star in a big-budget version of the “Rapture” series, “Left Behind,” with Nicolas Cage, that could start shooting in May. And after that?
“Maybe back into the recording studio, just to see what happens.”