Vanessa Hudgens triples the fun in The Princess Switch 3

Nathalie Tomada - The Philippine Star
Vanessa Hudgens triples the fun in The Princess Switch 3
The Princess Switch 3: Romancing the Star stars (from left) Vanessa Hudgens as Princess Stacy, as Fiona and as Queen Margaret. The holiday romcom film starts streaming on Netflix on Nov. 18

‘Tis the season for another Princess Switch. Filipino-American Hollywood star Vanessa Hudgens is back for the third and final installment of her holiday rom-com tradition with The Princess Switch 3: Romancing the Star.

Following The Princess Switch (2018) and The Princess Switch 2: Switched Again (2020), the princess saga sees Vanessa playing anew three versions of herself — American baker-turned-royal Stacy De Novo, former duchess and now Queen Margaret Delacourt, and the misbehaving royal cousin Fiona Pembroke.

When The Princess Switch 2 premiered around the same time last year, it went straight to No. 1 on Netflix Philippines.

Reacting to the reception to her film in an exclusive interview with The STAR on Friday, the 32-year-old actress talked about her being part-Filipino.

“I feel like it’s really special and I am aware (of the Filipino fanbase) because there’s not that many of us in the industry, you know. And my mom is first generation in the States and to be able to represent her culture and her heritage, and just have that community behind me means everything because Filipinos are like the most lively, kind and whimsical people that I know. Now, I gotta make my way out there. It’s on the top of my list.”

The sequel, Switched Again, ended with Margaret getting married to Kevin (Nick Sagar) and being crowned as queen, while “evil cousin” Fiona was arrested for fraud attempts. In Romancing the Star, which starts streaming on Netflix on Nov. 18, Fiona gets the chance to redeem herself as Margaret and Stacy enlist her help to retrieve a lost relic.

Besides The Princess Switch, Vanessa revisits her musical theater roots as she stars in Netflix’s Tick, Tick... Boom!, the film adaptation of the musical based on the life of the late Jonathan Larson, which is directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Here’s The STAR’s exclusive interview with Vanessa.

What can we expect from The Princess Switch 3: Romancing the Star?

“The Princess Switch 3 is kind of an anti-hero story. We get a look into why Fiona Pembroke is the way that she is and I love it so much because I feel like it forces us to look at ourselves and realize that snap judgments aren’t always the most accurate. That people have a history and are shaped into the people that they are through experiences and through the cards that they’re dealt in life. And I hope that it just allows people to build more empathy towards people they don’t understand.”

In the third installment, audiences will be introduced to a new leading man. Can you talk about the casting of Remy Hii (Crazy Rich Asians, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Far From Home)?

“We had put together like a list of possible actors to play that part. And since we were in the middle of the pandemic, we were doing Zooms with a couple of guys and I did the Zoom with Remy and he just had this sparkle about him that really, I think, works so well for a holiday film. He sparkled! Me and my director Mike Rohl would talk about it afterwards... And he was just phenomenal in the movie.”

Was his being part-Asian also a factor in casting him?

“I mean, we definitely wanted to have someone of different ethnic background. It only added to it, and it made me and my mom very happy.”

After the success of the two earlier films, what new challenges did you experience in making this third one, and are we going to see more installments after?

“This is the final one! This is it (laughs)! This is the final hurrah. You know, it was a lot of work going into it. I was like oooh, I love the Parent Trap. I love Austin Powers. I love movies where actors get to play multiple parts, especially because I love playing different parts and to be able to do that in one movie, I knew it was going to be a challenge but a fun one that I wanted to take on. Little did I know I would end up doing it three times and play three different characters (laughs).

“It’s so entertaining and to be able to bring families together in the living room at Christmas time, and create memories for the families like that, to me, is what the holidays is all about.”

What was your approach to every character and in what ways do you see yourself in each one of them?

“Yeah, I mean, I always tried to find something that I identify with. I try to see myself in all the parts that I play. And if I don’t see myself at all, then I’m like I don’t want to do it because I’m not going to be able to pull from something that actually affects me on an emotional and spiritual level.

“You know, Princess Switch is just like a beast unto itself. I had my dialect coach there which I’m so grateful for because he would be there listening to every single word that I was saying and making sure that I was on track. And I really owe it to such an amazing team of wardrobe and makeup and my director to really all put our heads together and make sure that we were conquering this beast together.”

I was wondering how you were able to pull it off and quickly shift from one character to another. I can imagine the chaos on set.

“Yeah, it definitely felt so chaotic. Definitely, you know, hair and makeup is everything, and wardrobe. And the characters are such unique individuals that once I had the entire look on and could look in the mirror, it was very informative as to who I was about to be.”

This was shot amid the pandemic. Would you consider that as the most challenging part in making The Princess Switch 3?

“I mean, with the amount of work that I had to put into the movie, it’s not like I really had time to do anything on the side anyways. If anything, it just meant that like, we had our bubble and we had each other. I think though that it just allowed us to really bond together and to be grateful that we were allowed to do what we love in a time where not a lot of people were.

“But it was sad... because the second movie we shot in Scotland as well, and the Christmas energy in the air was just palpable. You could feel it, you could smell it, and you saw it everywhere. But this time around, because of the pandemic, it was just kind of like a ghost town and it was sad because that magic that was in the air was kind of stripped for everyone. But we got to make our own magic with the movie, and now hopefully bring the magic to everyone wherever.”

Speaking of the pandemic, I just want to know how did the pandemic change, if any, your mindset towards your showbiz career?

“I mean, we were all given more time than we’ve ever had before, you know? And through that, just sitting and reassessing and really leaning into, what am I drawn towards? What are the things that I want to see on screen? What are the things that I want to make? And I really got to put a creative hat on and dream. It’s just really cool because now those things are starting to snowball and turn into real things. It’s just very exciting because I get to do it all with people that I love. So yeah, it’s definitely pushed me to dream a bit more.”

Since the Princess Switch has become like a Christmas tradition on Netflix, and Christmas is also such a big deal here, how are you getting into the Christmas spirit yourself?

“Yeah, I haven’t gotten there yet, because we are still in November (laughs). To me, Christmas starts after Thanksgiving. But I feel kind of hypocritical saying that because Halloween to me starts in August, and people think I’m crazy for doing it. To each our own, we all have our favorite holidays, right? But I am very excited because I have not been at home for the past three years now. I’ve been filming over the holidays. So, I’m really excited to just be home and be with my family and my friends, and sing Christmas songs and decorate a Christmas tree.”

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