Get out your dancing flip-flops and get ready to boogie! Tonight, Disney Channel’s brightest young stars go back to the beach in Teen Beach 2! In the next chapter to the 2013 smash, Teen Beach Movie, modern-day teens Brady (Ross Lynch) and Mack (Maia Mitchell) get a real world visit from their retro surfer and biker pals from the beach party film within a film, West Side Story.
I chatted with Mollee Gray who returns to her role as sunny surfette Giggles and Ross Butler who joins the cast as brainy hunk, Spencer and both shared amazing stories about their time shooting TB2. I spoke to each actor separately, but have interspersed their answers because we chatted about similar things. Let’s check it out!
Channel Guide: Mollee, You’ve been involved in Disney Channel Original Movie Musicals for a long time…
MG: I was in High School Musical when I was twelve, and I just remember watching Vanessa [Hudgens], and Ashley [Tisdale], and Zach [Efron] and just being like: “Wow, I got to do that one day … And I want to be in the next, big Disney franchise like High School Musical.” But I was like, “nothing is going to get as big as High School Musical,” you know. And then, there’s my opportunity and I ended up booking this character and it’s turning out to be the next big franchise!!
When I found out that I got the character of Giggles in the fist Teen Beach Movie, I had a moment of just sitting down and I got misty-eyed … I got a little teary-eyed because of how grateful I am. I remembered being twelve and dreaming of having a big part in a Disney Channel film one day … And here was in the Disney Channel offices saying: “thank you guys! It’s great to see you again!” I’m just so grateful.
CG: When you first booked the role of Giggles for Teen Beach Movie. Did you have any idea that the first film was going to be such a phenomenon?
MG: No, no not at all! Especially because the whole process was so quick … I was actually filming a pilot for Disney Channel with Maia Mitchell and John DeLuca … We were doing a pilot together and Maia was talking about this other movie she had to go do with Disney and we’re like “Oh that’s so cool! Congratulations!” And then John like got asked to play the character of Butchy so he auditioned and he got it! And then I got asked to go play Giggles and I was like, “Oh my gosh you guys, I booked it too!” Which is crazy, and then like a week later they’re like, “Okay, well you guys are going to Puerto Rico for two and half months!” So we packed our bags and we had no idea how big it was going to be. We had no idea!! Especially because I don’t think we had time to process what we were really doing!
Channel Guide: Ross, tell me about your character Spencer…
Ross Butler: Spencer is a studious, popular kid. He has his life planned out, he does a lot of extra-curricular activities and he knows what he needs to do to get into college. He’s the opposite of Ross Lynch’s character, Brady. Chronologically, before the first movie, I was friends with Mack, so when she comes back to school, we already know each other.
CG: What did you do when you won the role?
RB: I remember when I got the call from my manager telling me I’d gotten it. It was a really long audition process. I had watched the first movie, and I knew how big of a success it had been. I saw all of the fans going crazy for it. When I heard from my manager, I was still in bed —I was sleeping in late. My manager calls me and wakes me up and he’s like, “Good news! You booked it!” I did a little dance right there in my bed and I got up and it was an immediate adrenaline rush. I went out for a run right after. It was such a surreal experience. It’s the first big project that I booked, so it all hit me at once, It was such an amazing moment.
CG: Teen Beach 2 is a musical; do you think your dance or your singing skills won you the role?
RB: (Laughs) It definitely was not my singing! I’m not singing in the movie, nor do I sing in real life — outside of my fantasies. And dancing … originally I wasn’t supposed to dance, but when I got to Puerto Rico they said, “Come in for dance rehearsal, we’ll give you some choreography and we’ll see how you do with it.” So they put be in one of the dance numbers. I think it was just the vibe that I gave them, but I’m not really sure. I’d like to think it was for my acting ability, but you never know.
CG: Mollee, when you shot Teen Beach 2, was it like going back to summer camp and seeing all of your friends?
MG: Yeah! It definitely was. We didn’t know the sequel was happening, and they told us very quickly. They sent us in rehearsal in L.A. for a week and then sent us all the way to Puerto Rico. It was like a family reunion. You would see each other sometimes in L.A. but everyone’s busy … But then when you’re all put on an island together it’s just like a family reunion. We were so happy.
CG: And this time you have some new people on the cast …
MG: Yeah. We got Piper [Curda] and Ross [Butler] and Raymond [Cham] who … They are just awesome. Like super, super great! Piper’s the sweetest; she’s like my favorite. And she’s so goofy! Like I thought she going to be a little more quiet, but she’s just so goofy and like so quick with like little jokes.
CG: Ross, did you become close with your cast mates?
RB: Yes! Everyone clicked really well. The people from the first movie have known each other for years, so they were already one, big family. But as soon as I got on set, they immediately took me in. We all bonded, we all hung out every night on the island. And now, whenever we have free time, we hang out here in L.A..
CG: When I interviewed Ross Butler, he said that he was really welcomed into the group.
MG: I would hope we are! Because there is no judgment; especially new people coming into the movie. No one in the cast is like, “Oh no! Nobody joins our cast!” You know what I mean? I’m glad he felt that way because, I would want to feel that way if I was walking onto a movie set and there was already a set cast. I’d want to feel welcomed. I did my part in making sure he was welcomed.
CG: What was the best part of shooting the film?
RB: That’s a tough question, because the whole month that I was there, it was a blast. There were a lot of really fun moments. The dance scenes were really fun. They took a long time to shoot, but they were really high-energy and everybody was dancing and out heart rates were up the entire time so everyone was on a crazy, adrenaline-fueled high the whole time.
In the movie is there a number or routine or a scene that was your favorite thing to shoot?
MG: Yeah, well of course Gotta Be Me, but you guys have seen that one. I think that was kind of the game changer in this whole movie, Gotta Be Me. But I also think … I wasn’t in this number but I watched it, because it was more part of the modern day world … I can’t give away too much but they kind of touched base on what it’s kind of like to be in Hollywood and it’s kind of like another Can’t Stop Singing. Where it’s fun props and really goofy kind of stuff like that, but that’s my favorite number to watch.
Mollee, tell us about a really memorable moment on set…
MG: I’m trying to think about hilarious, because I feel like every moment was amazing fun with this cast. I will give you a moment that it wasn’t funny but it just kind of put everyone at peace because filming got a little crazy. When we were rehearsing, there was a piano in the L.A. rehearsal space, and also one in Puerto Rico where we were rehearsing. Whenever we all started getting stressed, Jordan Fisher would always just go to the piano and he’d start playing. No matter where we were, no matter what time of the day it was, he’d play the piano and he’d start singing like Sam Smith and he was singing, “Stay With Me.”
The whole cast would navigate toward that piano and we’d just sit there and calm down. Which is really good because you know the movie is so high energy … The dances this time are so fast … We had a little less time to get all our filming together and I think we needed that kind of peace and clarity for a minute. And Jordan was always on point with that. He would just start singing and his voice is the most beautiful voice I’ve ever heard in my life. It was a peaceful kind of gathering.
CG: Ross, Tell us about a memorable moment from shooting Teen Beach 2.
RB: One night, we were having a night shoot and a lot of the dancers were locals — they were all salsa instructors. So for three hours, I got a great salsa lesson — for free — from professional dancers. It was me and some of the other cast members, and these dance instructors, and there we were, having a great time, dancing in Puerto Rico. That was one of the most memorable moments, for me.
One day, the cast went zip-lining and one of the cast members is terrified of heights! I asked her, “Why are you doing this if you’re terrified?” She didn’t want to miss out on it, so she took one for the team. And seeing her be so terrified at first, but then having a great time with everyone by the end, was also really memorable.
CG: Tell me about Mollee Gray …
RB: Mollee is a ball of energy; she is so fun all of the time. She always has a smile on her face and she’s super-goofy. Unfortunately, when we were shooting, she was there the first month of the shoot, and I was there for the second month, so we were only together in Puerto Rico for a few days together. But the few nights that we were in Puerto Rico together, she was so fun to be around. And she’s very alike her character, it’s the perfect character for her to play. I just saw her at the RDMAs (Radio Disney Music Awards) and she is wonderful.
CG: Mollee, Ross says that you’re very much like your character, Giggles…
MG: Yeah, it’s so true! That’s what everyone always says: “that name is so perfect for you!” Well yup, I guess that is, you know. Yeah, but then I come out with this Lifetime movie and I’m showing that I am a serious actor so it’s just as exciting.
Teen Beach 2 > Disney Channel > Friday, June 26, at 8pm ET/PT
Mollee Gray recently starred in the Lifetime movie, Double Daddy.