By Matt Pais
RedEye movie critic
12:00 AM CDT, June 14, 2011
After doing constant press for her new movie, “The Art of Getting By,” Emma Roberts is “over” questions about her aunt, Julia Roberts. That’s a bummer, since I was so looking forward to asking what tooth-brushing secrets Aunt Julia passed along to help her niece maintain that iconic Roberts smile.
I’m kidding, of course. These days, actually, Emma Roberts (“Scream 4,” “It's Kind of a Funny Story”) is a far more engaging, non-pushy, big-screen presence. (The elder Roberts contributed nothing but a cackle to “Eat Pray Love.”)
In “The Art of Getting By,” the 20-year-old actress plays Sally, a popular, savvy high school girl who befriends George (Freddie Highmore of “Finding Neverland”), a moody underachiever who could use a lively girl to bring him out of his shell.
From her native New York, Roberts—who now lives in L.A. and was home-schooled, FYI—talked about being mistaken for other actresses named Emma and her love of Oprah. She also agreed how goofy it is that people have been asking her about the prospects for “Scream 5,” considering how her character ended “Scream 4.”
“Everyone’s asking me like I would know,” she says (spoiler alert!). “I was like, ‘Not only am I the killer, I was dead [at the end].’”
We asked readers for questions I should ask you today, and one said I should “Ask Emma what her favorite part of Brown University was.” That’s probably a better question for “Harry Potter” star Emma Watson, who actually went there. How often do you get confused with her?
Oh my God. It’s funny, having the same name as someone. Me, Emma Watson and Emma Stone, the amount of times I’ve been called Emma Watson or Emma Stone is so funny. It’s just ‘cause we’re all named Emma. None of us look alike.
What experience comes to mind when someone talked to you as if you were someone else?
I got my nails done and I was walking out of the nail salon and someone was like, “Do you have magic coming out of your fingernails?” I was like, “What?” She was like, “Do you have magic coming out of your hands?” I was like, “No, I don’t!” They were laughing at me, they’re like, “Haha, Emma Watson!” And I was like, “Ohhhh. Yeah, no. Wrong person, sorry.”
Well, your IMDB bio does say your favorite actor is “Potter” star Rupert Grint. Is that true?
No, I would not say that. I used to have a crush on him, though.
But you’ve since grown out of it?
Um, I haven’t really thought about it lately. [Laughs.]
Much of “The Art of Getting By” is about George’s shyness and winding up in the friend zone. How does someone know if they’re in the friend zone, and how do they get out of it?
Ah, the friend zone. I think once you’re in the friend zone, I’m not sure how you get out. Well, actually, I do know how you get out. You act like the friend back. That’s how you get out.
What do you mean?
If you’re a boy and a girl puts you in the friend zone, the second you stop caring and start treating her like your friend, she’ll probably end up liking you.
So he should just follow her lead, and that will act as reverse psychology.
I think so. I can’t say that it’s ever happened to me, but I just feel like that would work.
Who was a more unpredictable yet lovable wild card to work with: Zach Galifianakis on “It’s Kind of a Funny Story” or the dogs on “Hotel For Dogs”?
The dogs were unpredictable, but Zach Galifianakis was more lovable for sure.
How often on set were you compelled to hug him?
I don’t remember really feeling that way, but he’s really fun.
You often project an energetic, happy demeanor. What’s the most badass thing about you when you’re not working that might surprise people?
That’s such a hard question. I don’t know. What do you mean by badass? Like cool? I’m not very cool when I’m not working. I read a lot of books and watch a lot of reality TV and eat a lot of sushi.
So there’s nothing more hard-edged? Based on your interviews and roles, people would be surprised if you were, I don’t know, a gigantic Metallica fan.
I’m really good at archery and riflery, is that surprising?
That’s impressive. When did you learn that?
I went to camp for six years, so you learn a lot of things like that.
OK, if I see you with a bow and arrow I will stay out of your way.
Yeah, you should. I’m really good at archery on PlayStation, too.
I’m talking to you from Chicago. Have you been here much, and what goes through your head when people talk about Chicago?
I went through Chicago once, but I was really young and didn’t really get much time there. But everyone says it’s amazing and I really want to spend time there. I hear it’s really fun. You’re going to laugh at me because there’s two things that go through my head. No. 1 is Oprah. No. 2 is when I went there, the hotel I stayed in had a TV over the bathtub, so I always think of that.
That was an important memory for you?
I don’t know why I always remembered that. I was on a press tour, and for some reason I remember being in Chicago, and I literally was there for one day and I was like, “Oh, that’s weird. The bathtub has a TV over it.”
So you can watch Oprah, and your two favorite things can be combined.
Oh my God, “Oprah’s Master Class”? Please, don’t even get me started. It brings me to tears every time.
Why do you like Oprah so much?
OWN, that network, I don’t watch anything else. I just TiVo every single thing that’s on.
What she wants to do on-screen: “I’d love to do a comedy like ‘Bridesmaids;’ I think that would be so fun. I would play the Kristen Wiig character.”
If she hosted her own talk show: “I don’t think I’d be a very good talk show host. I mean, I’m very talkative but I don’t know if I could do that all the time. If I had a talk show, it would be like, what is that show? … do you know what I’m talking about, that show where you have to do those weird obstacles in one minute, oh, ‘Minute to Win It’! My talk show would be ‘Minute to Win It: Celebrity Version.’”
Her most romantic gestures: “I’m the wrong person to ask. I haven’t really had any romantic gestures happen to me, other than getting a mix CD, if that’s romantic. And the most romantic thing I’ve ever done, I mean, I don’t know if it’s romantic but I’ve flown places to see people, so I guess that’s nice.”
Her reality TV faves: “Any of the new reality TV on OWN, I’ll watch. I’m obsessed with ‘Pretty Little Liars,’ which is not reality TV but is just as good. I miss ‘America’s Next Top Model,’ I wish that would come back on. And I guess anything ‘Real Housewives’ I’ll watch.”
On her iPod now: “The new Bon Iver CD. I like Foster the People right now. Oh my God, Beyonce’s new album, I can’t even, it’s so good. And then, obviously, Adele. Love me some Adele.”
Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Fridays at 7 a.m. on WCIU, the U
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