A Close Encounter with a Couple of Hellcats (and an Olympian to boot)

Recently, Premium Hollywood was pitched the opportunity to attend the so-called SuperGirl Jam 2010, an event which, if we’re to be completely honest, we’d never heard of before we received our invitation.

Why the invite…? Because a couple of the stars of The CW’s new cheerleading drama, “Hellcats,” were going to be in attendance – Robbie Jones and Aly Michalka – and we’d been told that we’d have a chance to chat with them about the series. As a bit of pop culture gravy, we’d been told that we’d also be getting the opportunity to speak with an honest-to-goodness Olympian: Nastia Liukin, who’s also managed to turn up on such series as “Gossip Girl” and “Make It Or Break It.”

So off we went to SuperGirl Jam 2010…and $17 dollars in parking fees later, we did indeed get to to talk to all three of these individuals. That’s the good news. The bad news, however, is that the sum total of time spent with the trio – we talked to each of them separately – barely topped out at the 10-minute mark. Note to self: next time, get a guarantee of at least five minutes per person.

And possibly parking validation.

– Robbie Jones –

Premium Hollywood: Hi, I’m Bob Westal from Premium Hollywood/Bullz-Eye.com.

Robbie Jones: Nice to meet you.

PH: I’m not usually a TV guy and I was researching you. You’re kind of a mystery man.

RJ: Am I?

PH: There’s not a lot about you on the Internet. For example, your age.

RJ: It’s crazy.

PH: Your age is unknown. Are you like 50 years old?

RJ: 57. I have 16 kids.

PH: In five different states.

RJ: It’s crazy. The math is all off but it’s true.

PH: Okay, I know you were on “One Tree Hill” and they kind of killed you.

RJ: It was sad. Sad. Q. [Quentin Fields] was just turning the corner to be a positive guy and — life cut short. Tragic end.

PH: “Tragic end.” Okay. Let’s get a little background [before we move on to “Hellcats”]. Where are you from originally? How did you get started?

RJ: I’m from Sacramento, California and I’ve been in L.A. for about five years and I’ve been acting pretty much since I got out here.

PH: How did you get the “One Tree Hill” gig?

RJ: Well, it was the audition process. I’m sure a ton of guys auditioned for the role. I went in, just like everybody else. [Series creator] Mark Schwahn, I’m telling you, he changed my life, he gave me a shot, believed in me, [CBS Television President] Peter Roth believed in me, and the rest is kind of history. It’s really a blessing from God, honestly.

PH: Speaking of blessings from God, you’re one of just a couple of men on a show [“Hellcats”] filled with beautiful women.

RJ: Beautiful.

PH: And we’re an online men’s magazine, so…

RJ: Beaut-i-ful. They’re beautiful. I mean I’ve got Ashley Tisdale, Aly Michalka. I’ve got Heather Hemmens, Gail O’Grady. I’m surrounded by this beautifulness. I don’t know what to do with myself sometimes.

PH: Do you ever get distracted?

RJ: Daily. Every day. All the time.

PH: Hopefully, [with all that jumping around] no wardrobe malfunctions ever happen.

RJ: No, no, no. None of that. Keep it clean — but there are distractions.

PH: I was overhearing you talking to this other person. The gymnastics aspect of the show, that’s fairly new to you?

RJ: It’s very new to me. I’m more of a basketball kind of guy myself, so the dance and the choreography and the acrobatic stuff — that’s very new to me. It’s a great challenge. I’ve been up for the challenge. It’s fantastic.

PH: I’ve seen the pilot. As the show progresses, I assume we’ll be seeing more elaborate dancing and so on.

RJ: Yeah. I think as the show goes on, the squad is going to develop. We’re going to see more and more of the routines.

PH: It seems like the positioning here — and I know you’re not a network executive — seems like they’re going a little bit after the “Glee” audience here.

RJ: What’s interesting about our show is that it’s pretty much a college show with cheerleading as the backdrop. So, it’s not really a cheer show and it’s not really a dance-performancey type show. It just kind of happens. It doesn’t drive the show as much as a show like “Glee.” Were more of a drama-slash-comedy that has a cheerleading base to it.

PH: Okay. So, what’s been the most difficult scene you’ve had to do so far?

RJ: Oh, boy. There was one…we had to do a cheer routine and we had to do it over and over again. Like I said, coming from the background I came from, it’s like a foreign language to me sometimes. So that can be challenging.

PH: Are there certain things, like certain moves maybe, that you have a harder time with than others? The back-flips, or…

RJ: I tried it — in my mind one time. It didn’t work out, so I let my double do it.

PH: Aha. Doubles. Stunt people.

RJ: I love them. Love them. Oh, man.

PH: Yes, they’re an important part of the filmmaking process.

RJ: Shane, my double, is my best friend on set.

PH: Okay. Can you tell us a little bit about what’s coming up for your character on the show?

RJ: I can tell you a little bit. Lewis is an ex-football player. I think we’re going to see Lewis somewhere in the football world. We can’t say exactly where but I think he’ll make his way somewhere around the football world again. We’ll see something in that lane for him. It’s not all the way out of his system, I don’t think.

PH: Let me ask you this, I’m kind of switching gears here…

RJ: Switch the gears.

PH: I like to ask younger actors…presumably you’re a younger actor…

RJ: Switch the gears on me, switch ’em.

PH: Who are your favorite actors? Who are your heroes in the business?

RJ: You know what, I’m a humongous Denzel Washington fan. I really like Matt Damon. I really dig Don Cheadle. Those are just some of the guys I’ve watched growing up and really just honed in on their work and inspired me. Will Smith is another one. It’s really inspiring to watch him work. To watch those guys like Denzel work and embody these roles is just fantastic and very inspirational for myself.

PH: I don’t think people really quite always get just how great he really is. I don’t know how much you know old movie stars, but he always reminds me of Spencer Tracey. Very simple.

RJ: But effective. Very powerful.

– Alyson Michalka –

Premium Hollywood: You’re pretty young, but you’ve already been a star for awhile now with “Phil of the Future.” I was just researching you before, and I know what your favorite foods are, according to IMDb. Do you find it odd that I know that you like sushi and tacos?

Alyson Michalka: Totally. I know, it’s the funniest thing. Sometimes I learn about stuff that I didn’t even know existed about myself, and I’m, like, “Oh yeah, that is true. I do like that.” Or, “That is my favorite thing.”

PH: So we can confirm that IMDb is correct [about liking sushi and tacos].

AM: IMDb is very correct.

PH: Okay, now, before “Hellcats,” had you had any background in gymnastics or….

AM: I had no background in gymnastics, but I had a huge background in freestyling and hip-hop. I was on a competitive hip-hop company when I was a teenager, so the whole world of competing and being on a team was very familiar to me. The cheerleading was completely new, but I was able to pick that up quickly just because I was already powerful with movement and choreography.

PH: Right, so the dance aspect of it is…

AM: Yeah, and the fact that we have an amazing stunt double who is able to do all of the dangerous stunts and tumbling is really fantastic because she’s been able to kind of take on my body language, and the way that I stand and the way that I move. She’s able to really be able to become me when the camera’s on her and she’s doing a stunt.

PH: I was just talking to Robbie [Jones]. and he was praising his stunt double, too.

AM: Yeah, yeah. He’s. like, “Thank you!”

PH: So another interesting thing is that you and Ashley Tisdale are friends in real life, from before.

AM: Yeah. We’ve known each other for a long time. We went to the same acting class when I was about 11 and she was 15, so we’ve known each other for ages. We just happened to be in the Disney world for awhile. She was there a lot longer than I was, and I was kind of going out as her show was coming in, but we were able to see each other at events and we always got along. So it’s cool that it worked out that we’re on a show together.

PH: The scenes were fun with the initial unhappy meeting between you two.

AM: Oh, totally. It’s a great chemistry that we have on and off set.

PH: Okay, one more thing. You were in a movie called “Bandslam,” which I have not gotten to see and a lot of other people have that same problem. I’ve just been hearing really good things about it.

AM: Thanks. We got great reviews on that movie. I mean, the fact that Rotten Tomatoes gave it, like, 88% is pretty amazing for a kid film, and they’re pretty harsh critics. I was really pleased with the outcome of the film. We had a great director. He really had a great vision. Unfortunately, the studio didn’t pull through it for us. I think it was just mis-marketed, but, as an actor, you’re there to do your work and to have a great performance. As long as I was able to do that, I’m happy with my work, and it’s something that I’m proud of as my first feature film.

– Nastia Liukin –

Premium Hollywood: Now, I don’t usually do sports. I believe you’re the first Olympic athlete I’ve spoken to, and you’re a gold medal winner, so that’s kind of impressive.

Nastia Liukin: Perfect!

PH: Yeah. How does being in that very small club of people change your life?

NL: It’s incredible to know. My dreams were always to go the Olympics and you don’t ever want to put too high goals of winning a gold medal, but now to know that not only did I win one gold medal but five medals total. It’s incredible to know that you worked so hard and you’ve accomplished your dreams. It also teaches you that you have to set new goals for yourself and kind of achieve those and surpass them. It’s been a great experience and I’m looking forward to setting new goals.

PH: Speaking of new goals, I understand that you have one new television show coming up already, but I understand you are kind of setting your eyes on a career in acting, I take it — or at least on camera work.

NL: I think that it’s fun. I’m pretty comfortable, I guess, on camera. I’ve done some broadcasting, commentating for gymnastics. I love sports. I grew up in the gym and that’ll always be close to my heart. As far as acting, I’ve done a few appearances on “Make It Or Break It,” “Stick It,” the movie…

PH: “Stick It”?

NL: Yeah, it’s a gymnastics movie…

PH: “Gossip Girl.”

NL: Yeah, “Gossip Girl.” Those were a lot of fun, they were very short appearances but still a lot of fun, but if I get the opportunity and the time, yeah, I would love to do it.

PH: So, just to get clear, you’re going to be back on “Make It Or Break It”?

NL: No, I’m already done. I did the two episodes. I did them earlier this season so we’ll see.

PH: They haven’t aired yet?

NL: They have.

PH: They have aired. Okay, I’m sorry.

NL: That’s all right.

PH: When you were on the Olympics, how do you feel about watching yourself on camera at the time? How do you feel you came across when you saw the tapes?

NL: When I’m competing and when I’m commentating it’s completely different. When you’re competing you’re very focused, you’re not really smiling or laughing very much. I know a lot of people say [I] “didn’t have much of a personality” but that’s kind of the way you go when you’re so focused. Commentating is definitely different it shows more of your personality.

  

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