Back left
Back right

Dove Cameron is Barely Lethal

May 28, 2015

By: Lynn Barker

Pretty, blonde teen actress Dove Cameron, who plays both Liv and Maddie in the Disney Channel series, is on a roll! She plays a high schooler, the daughter in a family who sponsors “exchange student” Megan (Hailee Steinfeld) who is actually a teen secret agent in the fun movie Barely Lethal.   Dove’s character Liz, at first, is angry that another teen girl is invading her domain. Is Liz a mean girl or will she and Megan find a bestie bond? 

You can also catch Dove playing Maleficent’s daughter Mal in “Descendants”, this summer’s Disney TV movie about the teen sons and daughters of famous Disney villains.

Dove as herselfDove as herself

Check out what Dove is telling us about fun on the Barely Lethal set, ad-libbing with Hailee, going to her first wild high school party (although it was in a movie, not in real life) and her own “Glee-style” high school experience that included singing the lead in a winning Show Choir. Check it out.

Kidzworld: You shot Barely Lethal in Georgia at some high schools. What was your high school experience in Burbank, California like?

  • Dove: It was good. I definitely, even moreso than now, was a shy person in high school. I had this best friend who was a guy. We were dating on and off but never official and he was like my person there. Other than that I didn’t have many friends. I’m a strange human being, kept to myself and didn’t really fit in very well.  

Kidzworld: You were in Show Choir? Were you kind of living “Glee”?

  • Dove: Yeah. I was in Show Choir, it was fun. I’d grown up doing stage and there wasn’t really a theater community in Burbank so I got to do the solos there and that was kind of my outlet for stage.

Kidzworld: Did the cast of Barely Lethal go and do things off set in Georgia to bond before the shoot started?

  • Dove: Tons! There was lots of Benihana (an Asian restaurant) action and we went bowling, did karaoke, shopping. It was so, so, so fun! We made friends. There are so many good people involved.

Dove with Hailee and rest of main castDove with Hailee and rest of main castCourtesy of DirecTV

Kidzworld: How are you like your character Liz and how very different? Doesn’t she sort of use sarcasm to avoid getting close and being hurt?

  • Dove: I think Liz is a super relatable character. You think she may be the mean girl at first but she’s got a very steep character arc; probably one of the more challenging character arcs (changes) that I’ve had to play besides in Disney’s “Descendants”. She’s withdrawn at first. I think everybody has felt like an outsider at some point in their lives. Everybody has felt like “I need to put my walls up” in some situations and I think Liz is exactly there.
  • She’s been abandoned by her father and kind of emotionally by her mother. She’s taken on a lot of responsibility in the family that she might not have otherwise. So I think she feels overwhelmed and treated unfairly. She has all kinds of walls up. The ways that you watch her bloom and change and open up is really inspirational because everybody has wanted that.

Dove as Liz with Megan at Homecoming danceDove as Liz with Megan at Homecoming danceCourtesy of DirecTV

Kidzworld: Liz and Hailee’s character Megan grow on each other. Did you two have anything in common as young actresses?

  • Dove: Oh yeah, tons. Hailee and I hit it off right away. We got to spend a lot of time together because of all our scenes together; the roof scene (hanging out on the roof eating popcorn and just being girls) and getting ready for Homecoming. It’s cool to have a true age peer to work with.

Kidzworld: Yeah. You guys were teens playing teens rather than 27-year-olds pretending to be.

  • Dove: Yeah. That’s one of my favorite things about the casting.

Kidzworld: Liz has a cool scene at a kind of wild party where she gets pretty blasted and has a heart-to-heart with a guy. Was that fun to shoot?

  • Dove: It was really fun. Gabe (Gabriel Basso who plays the goofball guy) is a total jokester and that was also when my character started to transition over to the lighter side. I actually never went to one of those parties. I was only in high school for like a year and a half (she was then homeschooled) and I was an outsider. It’s nice to pretend that kind of party doesn’t happen in high school but it does. My journal was my best friend. I didn’t even kiss a boy till I was 17. So that was fun for me.

Megan (Hailee) shows Liz (Dove) her arsenal of weaponsMegan (Hailee) shows Liz (Dove) her arsenal of weaponsCourtesy of DirecTV

Kidzworld: The film is entertaining but has a message too. What do you see as the message?

  • Dove: Everyone’s an outsider no matter what background they come from; whether they are the new girl (like Hailee’s character), the popular girls or the hot guy or nerdy guy or the jokester or the disaffected rebel. Everybody has their own identity and at one point they all feel like an outsider. I think it’s comforting to know that everybody has felt that way. You can look at people around you with empathy and maybe form more lasting relationships knowing we are all actually in the same place.

Kidzworld: Did you have a favorite outfit Liz wears in the film and did you get to keep anything?

  • Dove: I actually did have a favorite outfit. The first couple of days Liz wears this disturbingly messy ponytail that we kept trying to match every day. Her hair is sticking out. I’m wearing a ripped-up shirt with black lettering on it and loose boyfriend jeans and high heeled sneakers because Hailee is so tall and beautiful and I’m like a child standing next to her. I also wore this flannel shirt and it is actually mine. It was my grandfathers’. It’s our family (Cameron) plaid so I asked if I could wear it and they said yes.

Hailee (as Megan) tries out for school mascotHailee (as Megan) tries out for school mascotCourtesy of DirecTV

Kidzworld: Did you have a favorite scene to shoot and then a most difficult scene in Barely Lethal?

  • Dove: Favorite was when Hailee and I were out on the rooftop. So much of that was improvised. All the stuff at the beginning like “I’m gonna throw up on you”, all that playful girltalk was all improved. That’s always really fun. It’s such a huge sigh of relief for my character to be able to relate to somebody and Hailee’s so great. That was also my audition scene for the movie.
  • I think the hardest for me was when I’m in the hospital bed. It’s so emotional. There is one line where Liz says “leaving is what hurts people”. It’s very simple but such a universal line. I feel like everybody can relate to that feeling of abandonment. I know I can. That brought up some personal stuff for me.

Kidzworld: How is your show “Liv and Maddie” going? Any big changes in store?

  • Dove: Yeah. We’re about to go into our 3rd season which is a different feeling. Season one, you’re a baby. You’re just starting. Then, season two sort of feels like a continuation. It’s like the difference between turning eight and nine isn’t as big as between nine and ten. But “Liv and Maddie” (she plays both characters) seems like second nature to me now. I’m really excited to start because it feels like home. Everybody is lovely and supportive.

Dove as both Liv and MaddieDove as both Liv and Maddie

Kidzworld: I interviewed Mitchell Hope, Cameron Boyce and Sofia Carson from Disney’s “Descendants”. Briefly, how was working on that project and playing Mal, the daughter of Maleficent?

  • Dove: It was so amazing. I’m not just saying this but Maleficent was always my favorite villain and Kristin Chenoweth (who plays her in “Descendants”) has been my hero since I was six years old; nobody else, just her. So being able to play somebody who is a descendant of such a legendary character and then a child of my hero was like unimaginably cool. (“Descendants” is on Disney Channel later this summer).

Kidzworld: General question. If you are on a date, what must the guy just NOT do or you won’t want to see him again?

  • Dove: Oh, talk about himself all night or talk about other girls!

Dove as Mal with Kristin as MaleficentDove as Mal with Kristin as MaleficentCourtesy of Disney

Kidzworld: That’s for sure! You are a singer. What band or music artist are you really into right now?

  • Dove: I really like Walk the Moon. One of my biggest pet peeves in the world is when I find a new band and their single is incredible then I look at the rest of their stuff (and realize) they just got big off of that one song. I have to find a new band to obsess over because that one just got lucky. But Walk the Moon’s stuff is so consistently amazing. They don’t get pigeonholed. They’re incredible!

Kidzworld: Is there someone in literature or history you would love to play some day?

  • Dove: Well my dream role is Glinda in “Wicked”. That was originally a book (“The Wizard of Oz”). I’d also really love to do a dark fairy tale like the Grimm Brothers. I guess I’m into the dark fairy tales because of my character Mal and I’m really into a character challenge.

Kidzworld: Why will tweens and teens really enjoy seeing Barely Lethal?

  • Dove: I think there are such memorable characters. These days it’s easy to go cliché with high school characters because everything’s been done. There’s so much stuff out there. It’s easy to not punch them up enough because you’re afraid of being cliché. We had this amazing blend of people who were really passionate and good at every single character. There was no weak link. I think it’s really appealing to watch these people who are realistically going through a lot of things we went through on camera; watching young humans find out about life. It’s addictive.


Barely Lethal is in theaters May 29th!