This Friday, Harmony Korine’s provocative new film Spring Breakers hits UK screens - an orgy of bikini-clad girls, booze, drugs and guns in the sunshine. Shot on location in Panama City during Spring Break last year, and using real revelers as extras, the film stars James Franco as Alien, a rapper, drug-dealer and ‘gangster-mystic’ who plays dark angel to four college girls gone wild: Vanessa Hudgens, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson and Rachel Korine (Harmony’s wife and mother to their young son), who rob a restaurant to go on Spring Break. At the recent SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, Grazia's Jane Mulkerrins caught up with the cast to talk about the rather novel experience of making the movie...
‘I had been a part of something for a while that I was incredibly lucky to have done, but I wanted to do something that would be really different for me,’ admits Selena Gomez, the former Disney Channel actress who plays Faith, the only one of the four girls apparently possessing a conscience and boundaries in the film.
The 20 year-old ex-girlfriend of Justin Bieber admits that the debauched, drug-infused film may not be the first place fans would expect to see her post-Disney. ‘It’s a transition time for me, and it’s a little awkward, but I wanted to step out of my comfort zone and see how far I can go,’ she says.
And she certainly wasn’t worried about shocking her parents. ‘My Mum is my manager and she is a huge Harmony fan, so she was the one who gave me the script and then watched all of his films with me’.
‘It was definitely a unique experience,’ says her co-star, 26 year-old Rachel Korine. ‘My character, Cotty, is very wild and immature, so all day I would live in this chaotic world, and then have to go home and be a wife and a mother and make sure Harmony took his vitamins.’
‘I had some wild child days that I could tap back into, but the guns and the violence were the bits that I found difficult to handle,’ she admits. ‘And the scooters. I was terrified of the scooters we had to ride. I would start shaking at scooter practice, while Selena was doing wheelies up and down the pavement.’
None of the four lead actresses had ever been on a Spring Break of their own before shooting the film. ‘It helped that most of the people around us were real Spring Breakers,’ says 23 year-old Ashley Benson, best known as a daytime soap star in the US, who plays Brit in the film.
‘All the party scenes were real – we were thrown into these hotel rooms and those were our real reactions. Girls would be getting naked and making out with each other, and we’d be like, “Wooah”.’
For his role, James Franco, one of Hollywood’s busiest actors, spent a year collecting material to build up the hilarious and creepy character of Alien, he revealed.
‘Harmony is a great researcher, and sent me websites and links, interviews, songs, sometimes about how a person sounded, or how a person looked – and they all went into this soup for a year,’ says the 34 year old actor, director, author and university lecturer.
‘Then sent me some camera-phone footage of this white guy with dreadlocks in a car, rapping, I couldn’t even understand what he was saying. Harmony told me he was a model for my character.’
Franco travelled down to Florida, and befriended the rapper. ‘His name is Dangeruss – he’s in a scene in the film,’ says Franco. ‘I spent a lot of time with him, and he really shared his life with me. I took some of my dialogue straight from things he told me.’
The physical transformation Franco underwent - including hip-hop style gold grills, metal jewellery for the teeth - to get into character presented its own challenges, he admits. ‘The grills were cool – mine were fake, not cemented in like those of many people I met down there – but I hated the cornrows. The itch; it was horrible’.
Spring Breakers is released on Friday April 5