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Interview with Emily Osment of "Cyberbully" on
ABC Familyís Q&A Session with Emily Osment Ė Cyberbully
Moderator Cyber bullying is such a huge topic these days. Did you have
to do any research to be in the role, and have you been bullied? As a
celebrity, Iím sure youíve been raked through the mud a little bit
E. Osment Thatís a good question. This movie I knew was going to be a
journey in all sense of the word. I definitely spoke with my mom before
I began this project. She is an elementary school teacher in sixth grade
and as sad as it may seem elementary school sometimes, thatís where we
get the bulk of the bullies, especially before they turn into bigger
So, I spoke with her for a long time about what she sees in her school
and some of the cases that sheís seen, and itís frightening. Itís very
sad. And besides that, I spoke with Joe Rice, whoís our producer, I
spoke with him for a very long time when I read the script, and I loved
it for many reasons. One, was because I knew this was a character that
definitely, she has an arc. She starts at one place and sheís, as you
said, actually, she drags through this mud a little bit and then she
comes out somewhere else. And to play a role like that is an opportunity
I havenít had before and I was very happy with it and I was jumping at
And plus, this is a campaign that needs to have more publicity
surrounding it. I mean, cyber bullying is a topic that is very hot right
now. Itís a very timely matter. I know that Michelle Obama has a
campaign that she is doing on it. Seventeen magazine obviously is doing
a huge campaign right now with Delete Digital Drama. We have a rally
next week on Thursday. With this StompOutBullying.org that Iím an
ambassador for, I mean, there is just so much weíre doing, and knowing
that going into this movie, knowing that it would be for a good cause,
and then also participating and playing a role that Iíve never done
before and in drama, which is a big step for ABC Family, there was no
reason for me not to do it.
Moderator What do you hope people take away from the film?
E. Osment This is really a film for everyone. This is a film for parents
as well as for kids definitely, but I really encourage parents to sit
down and watch this with their kids because this is a very impactful
movie. If youíre having trouble at home with a kid whoís being bullied
and you donít know how to help them, Kelly Rowan, who plays my mother in
this, does an excellent job of playing this mother who is caught between
a divorce and her job and two kids and sheís so stressedówhich a lot of
mothers in America sadly are, but, I mean, she does a great job of
showing how she doesnít really know how to help in the beginning and
then she becomes supermom. So, it truly is a really good story and itís
good for everyone.
Moderator Has your big brother ever protected you from bullies or given
you advice on dealing with bullies?
E. Osment We were typical kids growing up, got into scuffles sometimes.
I mean, there was never really a time where he had to protect me from a
bully. We were four years apart, so even in high school, there was never
really a time where he would haveówe were only in school at the same
period of time for a year. I was a freshman and he was a junior, oh no,
so it was two years. Itís so long ago. Itís weird. My seventh and eighth
grade year, he was also in my high school as a junior and a senior. So,
we had completely different circles of friends obviously, and we kind of
stayed in the opposite sides of the school. So, I never really saw him.
But, if I did have a problem, it was nice knowing that he was there and
I know that that was a comfort for my parents as well. I know definitely
there were kids in my class who had siblings, which was great, and it
was nice to know if they had a problem that they had an older sibling
that could take care of them. And at fire drills and that kind of thing,
they would always have the older siblings come and comfort the younger
siblings. It was great. It was even built into the school. But there was
never a real time where he had to protect me. I know he would though. He
Moderator How is Taylor different from Lilly Truscott from Hannah
Montana and how are they similar to play as characters?
E. Osment Oh, the only similarity really is that they are both teenagers
and they are both in school. Truly, there is really no similarity other
than that. Lilly Truscott, I played that character for five or six
years, so she became more and more like me and I think that was okay
that she took that evolution because it was so long and to be playing a
character that long, it was okay that she changed a little bit over the
process, which she definitely did.
Lilly was a very cheeky, a very kind of not the brightest, bold, very
funny, very hyper and Taylor is completely opposite of that. She is a
very almost solemn and melancholy-type of character. She already is very
insecure. She truly just wants to be normal and she wants to be liked.
And Lilly had that going for her the whole time. Everybody wanted to be
friends with Lilly even though they were kind of the dorks at school,
sheís really fun and everybody wanted to be around her. And Taylor is
just completely the opposite and you can see what she goes through and
she changes even more within the movie. So, it was definitely fun to
play both. I mean, this is the first time I played such an incredibly
dramatic role. I was crying every single day on set. So, it was a
journey for me as well.
Moderator Can you tell me about the relationship between Taylor and
Samantha in the film?
E. Osment Sure. Iíll do my best to explain it. I canít give away too
much because that relationship in the film is actually a very important
one that relies heavily on the story line. But, with Samantha and
Taylor, I mean in the script and in the breakdown, when I first read it
the description said that Taylor and Samantha are very good friends,
theyíve known each other for a very long time, they are very close. So,
theyíre almost like sisters, and that was great for me to play because
Kay Panabaker who plays Samantha, I have actually known for quite a long
time before we started working so it was easy to get into that mode.
But, the relationship changes quite a bit in the story and it takes a
turn. Thereís a little bit of a surprise embedded into the story with
the Samantha and Taylor characters, I mean, you never see it coming,
which is very cool and very well written. But, itís very interesting and
you see this relationship a lot growing up with friends who may be your
friends for a really long time and then something happens and then maybe
youíre not friends for a reason or another, and I know Iíve experienced
that in my own life. You know, Iíve taken a different turn with certain
friends but I believe that Kay and I really did good job of trying to
make this as realistic as possible. And Samantha does her best to
comfort Taylor with what sheís going through and she kind of gets fed up
with her because she doesnít feel like thereís anything she can do to
help her. And thatís whatís sometimes so scary about bullies and being
cyberbullied is that you feel like youíre helpless. So, itís very
interesting and thatís one of my favorite parts of the film is that
relationship because, itís so interesting.
Moderator How important was it for you to be the person being bullied in
the film as opposed to a different role. Or, if they asked you to be the
bully, would you have felt the same way?
E. Osment Wow! Thatís a good question. I never would have thought of
that. I probably wouldnít have jumped up and down as much. The Taylor
characteró one of the reasons, as I said earlier, she was very
attractive for a character is because she takes the journey. She has
this huge character arc and she starts at one place and she ends up at
another and thatís not as common as you may think in movies these days
where characters take that much of a leap from where she started. And
with the bully, in this movie, she truly is just the typical bully. She
is a mean bully and I think that it was much more attractive to play a
character that you just felt so much empathy for this whole time and you
want the audience to fall in love with this character and you know, Iíve
played a bully before and I wanted to play a new character featured more
obviously, in this film.
Moderator People seem to feel entitled to say negative things about
celebrities, especially online, so I was wondering how do you personally
handle the negativity?
E. Osment People do feel very entitled to say something negative as if
that is their job, or if they have any reason, or as if they know that
much. They usually donít. So, I find it kind of funny, honestly. And,
thatís how I deal with a lot of things, and thatís how I would deal with
a bullying situation, is that I would try and find humor in it. But,
everyone has their own way of dealing with things and Iíll be talking
about that at our Delete Digital Drama rally on Thursday at the
American, is you have to have three ways to deal with a bully. And itís
different for everyone. Whether it be my ways, is just finding good
humor in it, or whether it be option ĎBí which is to say something, or
option ĎCí is just walk away, or get some help. You just have to have a
way in your head of getting out of this situation before youíre even in
And thatís the same for online and if I see something negative online, I
truly will push ďDelete.Ē I truly will block the person whoever is
sending it. I have a private Facebook account and itís just truly my
friends. I never see it online ever. Iím very careful about where I go.
But, you know the internet is the internet. Itís boundless and itís
scary and it can be very frightening and sometimes the best thing is to
take yourself off of it.
Moderator On ABCFamily.com, on a poll they had, there was 48% of
respondents said that they havenít dealt with online bullying, but do
you think that most would change their response after watching the movie
and better seeing what online bullying really looks like?
E. Osment Yes, thatís a good point. You may not even know youíre being
bullied. I mean, I had a friend for a while who I thought was a really
good friend of mine and then someone sort of clued me into the fact that
sheís not very nice to you. Do you know what sheís saying even when
youíre with her, like sheís not very kind. And sometimes you donít even
realize what form of bullying it may be. It may not be in words. It may
be in a different sort of mocking way. Iím not entirely sure. But every
case is different and every case calls for something different for it to
be handled and you know, thatís a good point. I think that I didnít even
truly know in making this film how serious cyber bullying is. I was just
thinking, ďOh well.Ē You know, sure I see negative things online
sometimes. I just get it over itóyou know, ďDonít worry about it. Just
skip over it. It doesnít matter.Ē But, clearly in this movie and with
this character, itís her whole life. It follows her into her house. Itís
on the internet. It doesnít go away. It leaves a cyber footprint. You
truly cannot get away from it, and thatís whatís so suffocating and
leads her to such a suicidal state of mind.
Moderator Your song is going to be in Cyberbully. Can you tell us a
little more about your music?
E. Osment Absolutely. Yes, Iím very excited about this opportunity that
I was sort of handed while we were shooting. I was very excited about
this opportunity for a few reasons. Charles Biname who is our director,
sat down with me one day. Basically, he said, ďSo, music.Ē Thatís pretty
much all he said. I was like, ďYes.Ē And he says, ďI want to hear the
real stuff. I donít want to hear this pop crap. I want to hear you. I
want to hear the real stuff.Ē And, I said, ďSure, sure. I can play you
that because I know exactly what youíre talking about.Ē And I played him
some stuff Iíve been working on that was very acoustic. It was more in
the direction that I wanted to go. It was definitely inspired by artists
that I truly loveókind of folky, and he really liked it. And there
wasnít really anything I played that he wanted to use for the film, but
he said ďPlease write something for this movie. I can show you this
scene where we need the song.Ē Because, he had a really good sound track
already and he kind of showed me in a piece where he wanted it and it
was very great, because it was the climax of the movie and thatís where
the song is now.
And I wrote two songs for him. The first one, he thought was a little
too artsy, which is kind of cool, and the second one was ĎDrift.í And, I
wrote and produced both of them. And I sat there with him and he chose
which one he wanted and it took me about three days. Iím not a producer
and I sort of know my way around logic, but I was able to sort of
produce this on my own, which is really cool for me and a great thing to
be able to say. And itís definitely in this direction of which I want to
go with my music, which is more wholesome and more jazzy and almost a
little bit more sexy, like itís a very wholesome type of music. Itís
just great and you can almost feel it in your hand. You know? It has
some weight to it. So, Iím excited and this is going to be good and itís
actually available online today, July 12th, so yes, more music
definitely in that direction.
Moderator Do you have any advice for how teens can delete digital drama
in their own life?
E. Osment Yes, absolutely. If youíre being bullied, the best thing to do
is to Ö hit Ďdelete.í I mean thatís truly as simple as it is. If youíre
seeing negative things online, you know try and get yourself away from
it. And if you canít get away from it, then you take yourself off line.
Itís truly as easy as it is. Weíre very lucky we live in a generation
where we have the opportunities that we do with electronics and
technology and we can use it anywhere we want pretty much, but I think
Banksy said something recently which was really cool. He said, ďWe are
the only generation that was given so much and weíre doing so little
with it.Ē So, this is our chance to sort of change the direction in
which weíre going with the internet and make it turn right a little bit
and weíll be a little bit happier.
Moderator What was the atmosphere like on set? How do you mix the somber
mood aspects of the movie? Whatís the chemistry and family formed on
E. Osment We shot the movie in Montreal, Canada, which is beautiful and
I played a few shows. I was on tour in Canada last year especially,
Toronto. So, Iím quite familiar with Canada and I love it very, very
much. But, Montreal is beautiful and I had some friends over for it,
which was great and I was able to fit in, and the community in Montreal
was very much like the community on set. It feels very small.
The directoróCharles Biname who is a fabulous directoróand his crew have
worked together forever and they know each other very well. Nobodyís
loud and I knowómost people donít know, but when youíre on a set, itís
very loud. Itís like a cacophony of sounds, basically. Thereís just so
much going on. And this set was very quiet. It was very calm and you
were able to get into that state of mind, and there was so much crying
going on all of the time, and so much depression and it was very
melancholy most of the time where I was. There was so much preparation I
had to do before I went into a scene that you need to be comfortable
with your crew. And I am now, I mean, it was a very young crew on set. I
really hope that I can have that experience again because I was just
blown away about how professional they were.
Moderator Youíre crying pretty much every day on set. How do you prepare
yourself for filming that sort of emotion?
E. Osment I knew it was going to be a challenge, but this was a very
exciting opportunity for me, because of just that. You know, everybody
prepares themselves. Every actor has a different warm up attitude when
it comes to getting into a scene. This is the first time I did probably
more homework away from set than I did work on set. I mean, every day,
it was just mentally preparing yourself for this getting into this next
scene which required this type of set and this type of set. Because
there were different levels of what she was experiencing. Like, okay,
where is she in this scene? Is she way down in her hole, or is she kind
of looking over the edge, or is she jumping off the cliff? Is she in
free fall yet? Like, where is she in her little jump of sadness? You
know, at the flip of a coin, she cries, because sheís so insecure and
anything that happens to her, you know, life is over, which is very
emotional. Sheís seventeen at the time, so obviously, itís a very
emotional time in any girlís life, so it was cool to play that.
For me, my warm up is hard to describe. I listen to music most of the
time, and honestly, thereís a lot of times where it was very, very cool.
I wish someone had this on camera, but Charles would set up the scene,
he was lighted and then we would step into the room with half the crew.
Half the crew we put outside and half the crew would be in the room.
But, he would get me into that state and I would be in the state of
where I was emotionally and then, we would just start the scene and
sometimes we wouldnít follow any of the lines. Sometimes, there would be
no lines at all. Sometimes some of the scenes with Kay, I donít even
remember, because we were so into it. You know, weíd come out of a scene
and the next day sheís like, ďDo you remember me stepping on your foot
really hard during that scene?Ē Iím like, ďNo, honestly, Iím sorry I
donít!Ē But, itís very cool and thatís why I love this scene on my job
so much. Because, what I do is so creative and it takes me to this other
space of your mind that you didnít know you had until youíre there. And,
to create a different character is like I donít know, itís like having
some sort of Ö you had where you can only be one thing for however many
minutes the scene is and then you switch and youíre something else. But,
itís very, very cool.
Moderator Is there anything youíve learned specifically from personally
getting into the role and playing a victim of bullying?
E. Osment Yes, thatís itís very easy for me to get depressed. When we
were in Montreal for like six weeks, something like that, it was a short
shoot honestly. We were there for a while, but we did a lot of rehearsal
before, but I was shocked as to how much this impacted me, the role and
the attitude of the whole thing. I would just come home and I would cry.
I feel like I have to continue. But, it was a very interesting process,
especially being in a foreign country which felt so much like a foreign
country because Montreal is just very, very European, very French. I had
a few friends, but at the end of the day, youíre not going to go out.
Youíre going to sit home and prepare for the next day. So, I was just
surprised how much this role truly impacted me and I went home and I was
just sad for six weeks while we were shooting this.
You know, we had a good time. We had truly an amazing time with making
this movie, but I never thought of myself as a method actor until now.
So, I would talk to my friends, especially, my actor friends and theyíd
call and Iíd be like, ďI just canít talk to you right now. Iím so sad.Ē
And, theyíre like, ďAre you okay? This is not what you said you were
going to be doing to this movie.Ē Itís a very fine experience.
Moderator Have you had any interactions with fans who have been victims
E. Osment Oh, sure, especially now that this movie is coming out. I get
messages online. I get messages on Twitter about how thankóthese kids
are all thanking me like I had anyólike I made the movie and so to
speak. But, theyíre saying, ďThank you so much for doing this film.
Finally, people will believe when I say Iím being cyber bullied and how
much that affects me and no one thinks itís a big deal and I donít know
what to do, and this movie is going to be so great for my parents to
see, and maybe itíll teach those bullies! Itís incredible. Itís amazing
how much one movie can do. And, thatís why we did it. We did it for the
goodness of our hearts, but also because we lovedóI loved the role and
the movie is a great opportunity. But this film has an opportunity to
say so much in 96 minutes or however long. So, yes, I definitely think
that this is sort of up the ante a little bit of how much these kids are
truly trying to get in touch and say like, ď Thank you. Thank you for
making this movie.Ē So thatís good.
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