As Stargirl heads for an adventure to sunny California, the spirited teen adds a new surname to her eponymous title. Hollywood Stargirl. Grace VanderWaal reprises the title role that she first played in 2020, where the eccentric teenage girl moves to Mica, Arizona where she seemingly casts a spell over the small town. But she joins her mother on a brand-new adventure in Los Angeles, where she befriends a collection of artists like two filmmaking brothers, a retired movie producer, and a jaded musician. Now Stargirl charts a new course in her whirlwind adventurous life and finds out that she too has a voice beyond the simple acts of kindness that work magic in the lives of others.
ThatsItLA had the chance to join their fellow journalists for the Hollywood Stargirl press conference, where the cast and crew shared their thoughts on making the film, straying from the source material to be original, and more.
1 – Not by the Book
Stargirl is essentially a story about nonconformity. While the film adaptation followed the book in a way that suits today’s audiences, the sequel takes a new direction by doing something original. Returning director Julia Hart didn’t adapt the sequel novel, “Love, Stargirl.”
“I was excited about taking her out of Mica and show her journey on a grander scale,” Hart said. “Grace and I had a lot of fun in the development process of the sequel. Grace was 14 when we made the first movie. And she was 17 when we made this one. That’s a huge difference. And we wanted to honor both Grace’s growth as a young woman and Stargirl’s and how they’re different and how they’re similar.”
And “Hollywood Stargirl” was an opportunity for Hart to tell a story from Stargirl’s perspective. “The most exciting thing for me about making the sequel and the most important thing to me was that the movie be from Stargirl’s perspective,” she said. “The first movie and the first book are obviously from Leo’s perspective, and it’s how he sees Stargirl. And so it was really exciting to get to have a whole movie through her eyes and her mind.”
2 – I Love LA.
Designed to be a love letter to Los Angeles, a city full of stars and dreams, Hart admits she set somewhere else before they settled in Southern California. And the only reason why the film is set in LA was because of the pandemic.
“The thing that we missed the most during the pandemic was our movie family. Our amazing crew who we love making movies with. I knew Grace, and obviously, I knew she was going to be Stargirl. I didn’t know these other guys yet when we were writing it,” Hart said. “But we decided to write a love letter to LA and all of the people we missed while we were all stuck at home. And so it was wonderful to be able to write about them and write about the city that we were quarantined in.”
3 – Figure It Out
One of the big themes of “Hollywood Stargirl” are the characters, young and old, figuring out their life’s journey . Because, let’s face it, we don’t have all the answers, and we don’t know how it will all end up. “Figure it out was a theme in the script. This idea of having to figure it out as you go,” Hart said. “There are a couple of lines in the movie where characters say, ‘What if we did figure out our thing?’” Hart wanted grace to write an original song based on that theme.
“So that became this refrain throughout the movie. And so I think the only thing I told Grace was, I’d like the song to be called ‘Figure it Out,’” Hart added. “The movie is so much about the creative process and the people who make the creative process rich and fulfilling.”
VanderWaal introduced Mike Elizondo to Hart to help figure out the songwriting process for the original songs heard in “Hollywood Stargirl.” The collaboration ended up helping VanderWaal, who was nervous about writing original music for the sequel. “They really went away and wrote that song in two days,” Hart said about “Figure it Out.”
4 – Valuable Lessons
With the sequel directed toward a younger audience, there will be elements of the film that resonate with them and a strong message that they can learn from the characters who work to make their dreams come true. Elijah Richardson, who plays Evan, one of the filmmaking brothers, wants everyone to know that “figuring it out” is all a part of the process. “I want them to be able to take from this is to learn that running away from your issues or your problems isn’t the way to go about things. You know, you have to face it eventually,” he said. “Taking risks doesn’t always mean that you’ll fail. You can take a risk and be the most successful person ever. So just be willing to take a risk.”
VanderWaal agreed. “I think this is something that we all cope with our entire lives, the fact that life is just entirely out of your control. And you can either be really upset with that or just kind of roll with the punches and let opportunities open up around you and take that in,” she said. “You never know how much it’s gonna change your life or won’t change your life at all. And who cares? You just keep moving.”
5 – Face Your Fears
Change can be scary, especially when you are a single parent constantly on the move. And Ana represents those fears, though she tries to mask them as an adventure as a means to comfort Stargirl, who longs for a sense of stability.
“There’s so much opportunity for vulnerability when you’re a parent, and you have an older child because you have this moment in time with your kid when they’re a certain age where you can stop trying to cover up all your faults or you open up and be vulnerable with your older child,” Judy Greer, who plays Ana, said.
“You can choose to fight to keep the dream alive that you’re a perfect parent and a perfect person,” Greer added. “I think Ana in this movie, in this story, was struggling. She was on the line, and she didn’t know how to start to put herself first and how to be honest with her daughter. And those were things I thought about, having gone through teenage years with my two step kids.”
“I was remembering a lot of those moments with my kids when I was, like, “Well, I’m just gonna tell them this thing now. I can’t pretend anymore,” Greed said. “And that was probably bad but very cathartic for me as a person [LAUGH] and an artist.”
“Hollywood Stargirl” debuts exclusively on Disney+ on June 3, 2022.