WESTWOOD, California — Although they’ve both become well-known over the last several years, Vanessa Hudgens and Aly Michalka claim their first-ever above-the-title starring roles in “Bandslam.” So on Thursday evening, at the red-carpet premiere for the film, it seemed only natural that the two musicians/actresses would be excited about their respective chances to go solo.
“It’s really amazing,” Michalka marveled, looking grown-up in a slinky see-through dress for the debut of her first film without sister A.J. by her side. “We worked really hard on this film, and we really had amazing chemistry on set. This is such a big night for me, and I’m so ecstatic.”
The same could be said of Hudgens, appearing in her first non-“High School Musical” flick since she was a child actor. But, as she was quick to point out, she doesn’t consider herself the lead singer in “Bandslam.” “I’m definitely not the star of this movie, either,” she said, comparing it to the “HSM” films. “It’s really exciting, it’s a lot of fun, and there’s a lot of great music, which I love.”
So, whether they were leaving a sister or five of their best friends behind, both actors were eager to unveil the next act in their careers, courtesy of a film about an unlikely group who compete in the school’s battle of the bands. Making things easier, however, was the fact that both Michalka and Hudgens were in their comfort zones thanks to the film’s musical elements — well, sort of.
“Vanessa came to me and said, ’I don’t know how to play guitar!’ and I said, ’You’ll be fine!’ ” Michalka remembered with a laugh, admitting she had way more axe experience than her co-star. “I told her to practice a lot, don’t stress, don’t think about it too much. And I think she definitely pulled it off. No one would know that she was freaked out about it.
“It was a comfortable role for me, just because I’m used to being in a band with my sister,” the 20-year-old Aly added. “[My character] is a girl you’re rooting for. Yeah, she has her ups and downs, but at the end of the film she really learns a lot about herself.”
And now that she’s conquered the guitar, Hudgens told us that her game plan is to make like boyfriend Zac Efron and leave the singing/dancing behind so she can establish an adult career. “Especially now, I want to try and separate them as much as I can,” she said of music and acting. “Which is why the next movies I’m doing don’t have any music; I’m not singing in them. And I really want to take the time to do that, so that’s why right now I’m taking a chill on the music.”
Michalka, who recently announced with her sister that they’re changing the name of their group to 78violet, has no such desire to keep her acting and music separate. She just finished two films, will soon release the first 78violet album, and quickly thought up the all-star band she’d love to jam with in a “Bandslam”-like tournament.
“I would have to say, lead guitar player Jimi Hendrix. Lead singer, probably Bono,” she said. “Drummer, probably Dave Grohl. And bass player? I think Flea is pretty sick.”
“We’d call them Uncle Evil, yeah,” she laughed. “If I had a guy rock band, it would be called Uncle Evil.”
But as excited as they were to be flying solo on the red carpet, neither Aly nor Vanessa were the happiest person at the “Bandslam” premiere. That honor belonged to 20-year-old Gaelan Connell, who got to share a kiss with both of the beauties. “It’s unbelievable, I couldn’t ask for better co-stars,” smiled the actor, who landed the role while in college.
“One day I’m going to NYU, the next day I’m in this movie where I have to kiss Vanessa Hudgens and Aly Michalka,” he said, insisting he could never pick one pair of lips over the other. “It’s like comparing two great flavors of ice cream.”
Check out everything we’ve got on “Bandslam.”
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