Selena Gomez on Acting: ‘I Haven’t Touched the Surface of What I’m Able to Do’

The Fundamentals of Caring
Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival

After “Spring Breakers” and a cameo in “The Big Short,” former Disney star Selena Gomez continues to expand her movie career with the Sundance indie “The Fundamentals of Caring,” in which she plays a hitchhiker. Netflix has landed the worldwide streaming rights to the road trip comedy starring Paul Rudd and Craig Roberts (as a teenager with muscular dystrophy) for $7 million. Gomez will head to Park City later this week for the film’s premiere, but first she spoke to Variety about the role, the pressures young women face in Hollywood and wanting to direct.

How did you land this part?
My manager sent me the script and I completely fell in love with the script and said I want to audition. She said, “I mentioned your name and I’m trying to do this surprise situation, so you can go in and nobody knows that it’s you.” So Rob [Burnett, the director] didn’t know who he was going to meet. I knew it would be difficult for him to see me in that role. He had a lot of hesitation. I auditioned two more times after that. I was one of the parts that I fought for. I knew other people were reading for it. So it feels good to feel like I earned it.

You went undercover to audition?
No, no. He didn’t know who he was meeting with. When I walked in the room, he said, “Oh my goodness.” He knew who I was. That was the problem. I think that’s probably my biggest issue when it comes to doing movies.

What’s the issue?
Being known in a different way. I grew up in it. My intention was always to be an actress and a singer. Unfortunately, it just kind of got clouded. I never really wanted to be on tabloids or anything like that. I think it’s wonderful now. I’ve been able to build my platform up because of who I am on the inside and just doing what I love, which is film, which is music. I’m not oblivious to that being the road bump. But I’m also prepared to keep fighting through it.

And there’s a double standard because young women in Hollywood have a much harder spotlight on them than men.
Yeah, I agree completely.

The movie was recently purchased by Netflix. How do you feel about consuming movies on a small screen versus a big screen?
I don’t know if I have a preference. I love Netflix. I just sold a show to Netflix. I think it’s incredible, the traffic they get. It’s all that I watch when I’m at home. Even if it’s on my laptop, if I’m traveling, it’s a different way for people to see movies, and I enjoy that.

What can you tell me about your Netflix show?
It’s called “13 Reasons Why.” It deals with bullying and there’s a thriller aspect, a young girl in school that leaves these 13 tapes behind.

Are you starring in it too?
I’m not going to star in it. I’m not quite sure if I’ll do anything onscreen with it. I’m producing it with my mom. My mom is the reason I did “Spring Breakers.” She’s got incredible taste in a weird, cool way. Four or five years ago, she found this book and fell in love with it. I think I was still in high school. Now we’re here. We took our time with it.

I can’t believe your mom liked the idea of you being in “Spring Breakers.”
There’s plenty of interviews where she’s mortified—“Why do you tell people that?” When people ask how I came about that project, I always say it was my mom.

Would you ever do a sequel to “Spring Breakers.”
Oh no. I wouldn’t do anything that Harmony [Korine] wasn’t a part of.

Who do you play in “Neighbors 2?”
I’m just in the beginning. I’m kind of the opposite of what Chloe Moretz would be. I’m the pompous, over-the-top obnoxious sorority president. We’re doing obnoxious things like studying in our bikinis. That’s as risqué as we get.

Do you want to continue doing films?
Yeah. I think there’s a lot for me to explore. I’m in a place with my music where I’ve gone through this transition and I feel with this album I’ve been able to grow as an artist. But I feel like in acting, I haven’t touched the surface of what I’m able to do. I hope I can continue to grow and get better. I know that’s going to take a lot of time, especially if music continues to do what it does.

Do you gravitate toward independent movies?
I guess I’ve always been attracted to indies, but I’m open.

How many scripts do you read?
If I’m recording or doing stuff for the album, I don’t read as much. But if I’m on tour, that’s all I do, which is hard, because all I want to do is film a movie when I’m on tour. It’s a love/hate relationship.

Would you ever want to do anything behind the camera?
I’ve always loved the idea of directing. I’m not sure about writing — I don’t know if that would be my forte. But I love filming things. I love capturing things. I love figuring out how the camera works. Maybe one day.

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  1. john turn says:

    OK! Exclusive: Selena Gomez Accused Of Stealing The Idea Of Her ‘Hands To Myself’ Music Video From A Role She Was Offered

    Selena Gomez’s hands aren’t the only things she can’t keep to her herself! The singer is being accused of stealing the idea of her racy “Hands To Myself” music video from a movie she was offered a role in.

    “Selena Gomez stole the idea of her ‘Hands To Myself’ music video from My Beautiful Stalker screenplay,” Lambert Moberly exclusively told “[She] was one of a handful of actresses that were interested in My Beautiful Stalker screenplay.”

    Moberly considered the 23-year-old for the role of Mia, the provocative character he believes Gomez is embodying in her music video. She told E! News of her stalker character, “I think everyone can have those moments where they’re dreaming of what their life could be, especially girls with love. Being obsessed with the idea, and you can’t control yourself. Ultimately you realize that one of the versions of myself is a little psychotic.”

    Although a rep for Gomez denied the claims, Moberly believes she was “describing [his] main character” when she explained her role in the music video. In the screenplay, Mia does become “obsessed” with the idea of love and acts “psychotic” when she follows a man in her car and tries to seduce him by wearing revealing clothing.

    “I guess famous people can get away with stealing someone else’s ideas like this,” Moberly explained. “But I still wish I got credit for all the work I did.”

  2. Judy says:

    She has already achieved so much at such a young age. She is admiting that she needs to grow, but she has already made a name for herself in music AND film. There is no one who doesnt know who she is unless they have been living under a rock. She’s only 23-24? Cant wait to see what else she accomplishes.

  3. tashia says:

    It sounds fine, but what is she doing to better her acting? Her acting has not being good and I don’t see her taking classes or even having a coach. Does she think studios can afford being her teachers until she gets good? If at least she was able to motivate her fans to see her movies but she is not good at it too and they prefer her doing music. Viola Davis, Meryl Streep have a acting based formation, why does she think she doesn’t need too? The truth is that she is not passionate about it like she makes seem. Focus on your music and try excel on it while you’re young and beautiful because later it won’t easy to you there too.

  4. Noah Carter says:

    *This message is for Selena’s HATERS*
    Unlike Miley Cyrus and Britney Spears, SELENA GOMEZ can act! (watch Spring Breakers or Wizards of Waverly Place)

  5. Big Rig says:

    She should stay as far away from directing as possible. Her acting is more than sufficient in terms of torture.

  6. Nanny Mo says:

    Okay, but any Oscar you might win will be based on your race quota and whether a group of elites think you and your friends are worthy of voting. It won’t be for talent, so it doesn’t matter if you’re good or not. Only your skin color matters – I’m sorry you’ve lived to see that day in modern Hollywood.

  7. mega says:

    Cant sing or act lol

  8. Travis Andrejs Reks says:


  9. Me says:

    “My manager sent me the script and I completely fell in love with the script and said I want to audition.”

    Britney Spears, again.

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