Disney star Selena Gomez goes risque; R-rated film's director had children in mind

Published: Monday, Sept. 24 2012 4:00 a.m. MDT

Actress Selena Gomez appears on the Actress Selena Gomez appears on the "Fox & Friends" television program in 2010. (Richard Drew, Associated Press)

Selena Gomez has won millions of fans in the past four years as an actress on the Disney Channel's "Wizards of Waverly Place.” Gomez started her squeaky clean career on PBS Kids starring in "Barney and Friends" and has been featured in family films such as "Another Cinderella Story," "Princess Protection Program" and "Ramona and Beezus."

But after the premiere of her new R-rated film "Spring Breakers" in Venice, Italy, it was apparent that the new film isn't consistent with the actress/singer's brand. The material is likely to shock many, and Gomez has even warned her fans not to see it — though her director seems to think it's fine for kids.

In fact, the first time Gomez visited director Harmony Korine's home to discuss the role, Korine admitted he flipped over the artwork and photographs in his home, thinking he might offend the innocent star.

"He thought I was super, super Christian," Gomez said, according to the Vancouver Sun. "I was like, 'If I was a Christian girl, I probably wouldn't have done this movie.'"

Gomez plays the role of Faith, one of four college girls (along with former Disney star Vanessa Hudgins, ABC Family’s “Pretty Little Liars” star Ashley Benson and the director's wife, Rachel Korine) who want to get away for spring break. The girls are taken to jail after robbing a restaurant in order to get some money for their trip. But soon after, a drug dealer (James Franco) bails them out and decides to take them under his wing. A summary on IMDB reads, "it soon becomes unclear how far the girls are willing to go to experience a spring break they will never forget."

Time Magazine critic Richard Corliss wrote, "Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens shake beaucoup booty in outlaw auteur Harmony Korine's lurid parody-tribute to MTV mindlessness."

Gomez says she knows this will be hard for her fans — her new role is a drastic change from how they have always known her.

"Obviously I know that coming from Disney Channel gives you kind of a brand in a way," Gomez told reporters in Venice, as reported by the New York Daily News after the premiere.

"People do put a label on you. I know that I have younger fans, and this is an opportunity for myself to kind of grow. It is a little shocking, I think, for the younger audiences ... but I think it was right for me."

Korine, who is best known for the controversial film "Kids,” explained that the idea for the movie came to him when he envisioned girls in bikinis and ski masks, loaded with guns. Hollywood's online writer Michael Arbeiter said if you haven't ever seen a Korine movie before, you might be in for a shock.

Because of Gomez's young fan base, many have questioned Korine for seeking out Gomez to play the part. In an interview with the New York Times, Korine explained.

"It’s maybe taboo to say this but I made the movie for those kids to see as well," Korine said. "I don’t know what age groups will be allowed to watch the movie, but I was thinking about them as much as anyone."

According to the Winnipeg Free Press, Gomez said she felt differently. When asked during the press conference in Toronto what she would say to her fans about the film, Gomez replied, "Don't see it." After Korine protested her comment, Gomez restated her opinion.

"I wrote a message on my social networking sites to them, saying kids my age — my generation — I think that they should see it because it's very real, we're not really sugar-coating anything," she said. "I put underneath, it's rated R, so please don't see it if you're under 18.

"That's as much warning as I can give to the parents and the kids. But you can't control what kids do."

Former Disney star Emma Roberts was also originally cast to play one of the scantily clad teenagers. Kelly West from Cinema Blend reported that Roberts’ reason for leaving was because of “creative differences that couldn’t be resolved.”

A parental guide for the film can be found on the International Movie Database website.

Sarah Sanders Petersen is an intern for Deseret News where she writes for Mormon Times and other feature articles. She is a Communications major and editing minor.

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