EXCLUSIVE: Charice on ‘Here Comes the Boom,’ Her Singing Career, and Where She Stands on Nicki Minaj vs. Mariah Carey
11 OCTOBER 2012 By Crystal Bell
By Crystal Bell
Charice is already a big deal in Philippines, but now the 20-year-old pop star is ready to make her big screen debut in America. Hopefully, she can remember where she put her passport.
The young entertainer nearly missed the New York City premiere of her debut US film, “Here Comes the Boom,” after she forgot to pack her passport. Thankfully, she made it – and she even managed to take a photo with one of her favorite stars, Adam Sandler. But with a voice that sounds much older than her years, it’s easy to forget that Charice is only 20. That is, until she starts to gush about the mall and her obsession with tattoos, “The Wedding Singer” and “Downton Abbey.” We sat down with the talented star to talk about her new film, working the Fonz, who she would choose if she was on “The Voice” and how she likes to prank “Glee” fans – and then she performed a surprise cover of an American classic.
What was it like watching Kevin James get punched repeatedly in the face? I think I spent about half of the movie with my hands over my eyes.
Yeah! The first time I saw the movie, I felt the same. I was like, ‘How can he do this? It’s so intense.’ But that’s why I can say that it’s actually one of his best movies so far because it’s just so different from what he’s already done before.
For sure. Were you there for filming any of the intense MMA scenes?
Honestly, no! I didn’t get to see those parts, but every time on the big screen, it’s like, boy, my reactions could have been better if I’d seen it! [During filming] They just said, ‘OK, be shocked! OK, be sad!’
So what you’re saying is you probably didn’t pick up any good MMA fighting techniques while filming.
I did! I’m just kidding. Just don’t make me show it to you, you know? You’ll be scared. I’d rather not show it.
Oh, OK. We have to keep it under wraps.
Yes! I don’t want people to know that I know how because I don’t want to be walking down the street and all of a sudden there are people like, ‘I want to see your MMA.’
In the movie, your character Malia has to sacrifice the one thing that she loves most in life, music, to work at her father’s restaurant. For you, before Oprah and before the Youtube fame, did music ever seem like an unobtainable goal?
Yeah. I joined this TV competition in the Philippines, and I was third place. We needed money so bad. I didn’t know what to do. I almost gave up. I was like; ‘I don’t think I can do this anymore.’ I was literally in my room for two months, just playing guitar, and everything made me realize that maybe I should just go to school and just be normal again. That was around the time when Ellen called and Oprah called. It was like they saved me.
Do you ever want to be just a normal teenager sometimes?
I love what I’m doing, but there’s always a time when I wish I could just be normal, especially every time I go back to the Philippines. I wish I could hang out with my friends without people recognizing me. I wish I could go to the mall without the mall announcing my name.
Does that actually happen?
Yeah! I’ll be inside the mall, and then all of a sudden you hear, ‘Ladies and gentleman, we just want to welcome Charice!’ So the last time I was in the mall in the Philippines was a year or two ago because I went there to get something, and I could only stay for 10 minutes because it was too crazy!
You also get to work with Henry Winkler in the film. Now, this is your major film debut in the US, and you’re already working with Hollywood royalty.
Oh my god! You know, it’s so funny because I grew up in the Philippines, so I didn’t know him the first time that we met. I didn’t know what to say! The first time I met him, I was like, ‘My God, he’s so cute!’ He’s so adorable, but I had no idea who he was. I went back to my hotel, and I told my friend and she was freaking out. She was like, ‘He’s the Fonz!’ So I looked it up on YouTube and that made me realize, boy this is big time, you know? And the thing is, that’s what’s great about Henry — He doesn’t make you feel that he’s huge.
So for Christmas, someone needs to get you the complete series of “Happy Days?”
I heard that you missed your flight on the way here…
I was being stupid. I was in the Philippines, and I was already at the airport. I was about to approach the check-in desk and all of a sudden I was like, ‘Where’s my passport?’ We didn’t see it. I called my auntie and I was like, ‘Did you see my passport?’ And she said, ‘Maybe you left it in Laguna.’ Laguna is four hours away from Manila! So I looked at my friends, and I was like, ‘I’m going to miss this flight.’ I felt like I grew older, a lot older that day. It’s going to be, like, one of those stories that I can tell my kids in the future. ‘Do not forget your passport!’
Well, the good thing is you made it and you had your first premiere. What was that experience like?
It was amazing. It was so nice seeing everybody again because we finished the movie last year. Adam Sandler was there. I’m a huge fan, so I was a little shy. I just asked for a photo, and I was like, ‘I’m a huge fan.’ He’s so nice!
For sure. What’s your favorite Adam Sandler movie?
“The Wedding Singer.” It’s my favorite. I even know the theme song. It’s a little cheesy, but I love it. Please don’t tell Adam! I actually sang it in front of Frank, the director. He was the director of “The Wedding Singer” as well, and I sang it for him. He was like, ‘How do you even know that song?’ I literally memorized it.
You were on “X-Factor” in the Philippines. And you sort of found your own fame on a similar show in the Philippines when you were younger. So what’s it like now being a judge?
It was really hard for me. It was hard to say no to a lot of contestants. It was hard to reject a lot of them because I know how it feels. I always cried because I just know how it feels, and I think that it’s a big advantage for me as a judge. I can relate to them. But it was hard. They thought I was too young to be a judge.
In a recent episode of the US version of “X Factor,” Britney Spears also cried while eliminating contestants.
Yeah? It was hard for me, but at the same time I learned how to control my feelings. Everybody thought that I was actually more like Simon. I wasn’t really harsh, but I wanted to be honest. In the Philippines, they’re not ready for a Simon Cowell-type. But if I didn’t like the song, then I told them. I was like, ‘I do not like this song. Don’t sing this song ever again.’ They were scared of me. The contestants ended up calling me Madam!
Now just imagine yourself on the US version of “The Voice.” Obviously you have an amazing voice, and they’re all going to turn their chairs for you. So you have Blake Shelton, Christina Aguilera, Cee-Lo Green and Adam Levine. Who would you pick?
Well, that’s hard because I have two in mind, either Adam or Cee-Lo.
Really? Not Christina?
I know everybody would have expected me to pick Christina. I love Christina, but you know, as a judge I love how Adam and Cee-Lo, do their work – how they pick songs for their contestants. So if I had to choose one, maybe it’d be Cee-Lo… He was actually one of my inspirations when I was judging. He takes these famous songs and turns them into something else. So he was one of my inspirations, arrangement-wise.
Well, you just need either a cat or a parakeet to sit on your shoulder.
A snake, probably! I’m just kidding. It would be bigger than me! That would be interesting. Now they’d be really scared of me so…
I’m a bit of a Gleek, and I just have to say, you had such a memorable role in season two as Sunshine.
Oh god, Sunshine.
Do people still approach you because of that role?
Yes! They call me Sunshine all of the time. Sometimes if I feel like pranking people, I’ll do it. For example, I was at the airport, and I was with my friend and there was this woman who asked my friend, ‘Is she the one from Glee?’ And my friend was like, ‘No, we get that a lot, though.’ And then the woman was like, ‘Wow, she looks like that girl on Glee!’ And then I looked at her, and I was like, ‘I know I get that a lot. I mean, I don’t really watch that show. Do I really look like her?’ And then she was like, ‘You do look like her. You should check it out. She’s an amazing singer.’ I felt bad, but it was fun.
Have you been keeping up with “Glee” this season?
Not all of the episodes, but I’ve seen a couple episodes, especially the ones with Kate [Hudson]. The woman can dance!
Sunshine, you need to transfer to NYADA and make this happen.
Right? I mean, if they asked me to be on it, I’d do it, of course.
Tell me a little bit about what is on the horizon for you music-wise? What are you working on?
Right now, I’m still working on some new music. It’s so amazing how music changes so fast. When I create new music, I want to be able to create music that’s in right now, so I don’t just be left behind. At the end of this year, I might go back to Philippines and do some more shows and then go back to New York and do a little bit of promotion and then go to Hawaii, do my concert, and then sleep.
In that order?
Yes, in that order, and then sleep.
Are you thinking of releasing a dubstep track because that’s “in” right now?
I love R&B and pop but, of course, with the music today, sometimes even if that’s your genre, you have to do something else for people to sort of accept you in the music industry. So it’s a little bit frustrating, but you have to if you really want it.
Now, I know you’re a huge Mariah fan, and she is on this upcoming season of “American Idol” and there’s been some behind-the-scenes drama with Nicki Minaj. So are you Team Mariah or are you Team Nicki?
That’s hard because I love Nicki Minaj. I’ve been a huge Mariah fan since I was a kid, but at the same time, attitude-wise, I think I love Nicki Minaj. She’s so unique.
So Team Switzerland?
Here’s a little number Charice graciously did for us while visiting the NYC office!
Exclusive: Charice 'The Way You Look Tonight'
Myspace Music | Myspace Video
“Here Comes the Boom” opens October 12th, 2012.