The West

You can t scare Selena
Johnnystein (Andy Samberg) and Mavis (Selena Gomez) with Dracula (Adam Sandler) in Hotel Transylvania. Picture: Sony Pictures Animation.

It may be a goofy animated movie about Dracula's daughter coming of age and trying to spread her wings, albeit bat wings, yet the theme resonated profoundly for Selena Gomez.

As the voice of Mavis, Dracula's daughter in Hotel Transylvania, she didn't need to look too far to find parallels in her own life.

"I think I am a bit like her. I'm in that place a little bit," she said. "But I'm 20 - not 118. It's fun for me to grow up and, like Mavis, I want to be able to see places too."

The Wizards of Waverly Place cutie has literally grown up on the small screen before millions of viewers. Gomez, however, has already seen more places than most girls her age, globetrotting on concert tours and promotional trips, yet she argues that all that opportunity comes with a price.

"I get to travel and I'm very lucky to get to go to the places that I go to but I never actually have been to these places alone or by myself or with my friends," she says.

"I've never actually had that. So I think I'm going through that a little bit, doing things on my own a little bit more and having a bit more freedom. Also I do mumble and I'm a little quirky like Mavis so I feel like I relate to her in that sense."

Not that Gomez, the sophisticated couture-clad girlfriend of Justin Bieber, is asking anyone to feel sorry for her in her golden cage. "I do appreciate how lucky I am, every day," she says.

As Dracula's daughter, she grows up in a hotel, an experience that isn't dissimilar to her own. "To be honest I'm in places for like a day so I don't even know where I'm staying," she says when we talk in Los Angeles.

"My mum is more about spas in the places we go, so I just go with my mum. We stay in different places all the time."

Almost casually she drops in the fact she's even stayed in a haunted hotel. "It was for my birthday (two years ago) and I know that sounds a little weird. But I like getting scared," Gomez says.

"We were on tour so they had me stay in a hotel in Utah and it was haunted and we went there and they gave us this whole spiel. But nothing happened so I was a little bummed but it was spooky being there."

She pauses when you ask if she actually believes in ghosts: "No, not necessarily. I think it's all fun. It's an adrenaline rush, I think.

"There's really not a lot that scares me, to be honest. I love scary movies - I love being scared. I love going to scary movies and I go to Knott's Scary Farm every year. (This is how Knott's Berry Farm in California is renamed every year for the weeks around Halloween). I don't know what would scare me. I like being scared, I guess."

According to Gomez, she's not alone, arguing that most children are a tough crowd to scare these days. Already exposed to a variety of animated monsters and ghouls, they're practically scare-proof.

"I don't think children will actually be scared by Hotel Transylvania because people have changed their perception of monsters within tonnes of movies that have come out, so it's more fun for kids than anything," she says.

"It's hard to scare kids now. It really is. Going to haunted houses, watching scary movies - it's hard to actually scare them. If you notice, even our human character in the movie doesn't get scared."

The actress has played a wizard on TV and now a vampire girl for the big screen.

"With my TV show and with Hotel Transylvania too, we were able to bring kids' imaginations to life a little bit. With my show we were able to be invisible and fly and walk on walls and that's stuff that every kid wishes they could do. It's the same with Hotel Transylvania. We bring all these characters from Dracula to Frankenstein to life, and this new character of Dracula's daughter too.

"There was a lot of pressure being Dracula's daughter because there's never been a story that's been about that and their relationship. I do think the way she was structured and how I read her was exactly how I thought it would be.

"I thought she was perfect. I hope we don't disappoint anybody on how she is."

The actress will next be seen briefly (less than a minute) in Eli Roth's coming horror movie Aftershock.

Next year she steps further away from the Disney fold by appearing in edgy dark comedy Feed The Dog with Elisabeth Shue, and in crime movie Getaway with Ethan Hawke.

Although she's worked with many big Hollywood names, including Nicole Kidman, she admits to being in awe of her Hotel Transylvania co-stars who include Cee-Lo Green, Andy Samberg, David Spade and Steve Buscemi.

"Apart from my voice sessions with Adam, we did our sessions separately, and I didn't really see the others . . . so I didn't have too much pressure, otherwise I would have been too intimidated. I'm honoured to be a part of this cast."

Of course, Adam Sandler is the voice of Count Dracula, who runs the Hotel Transylvania, a high-end resort for monsters, far away from the human world.

He goes into overprotective mode when a human boy discovers the resort and falls for his daughter, voiced by Gomez.

Unlike Sandler, who uses a full Dracula accent, Gomez shied away from copying him.

"I couldn't do a Transylvania accent. I'm definitely not as good as Adam when it comes to that. There's a part where I make fun of him and that was hard."

Hotel Transylvania is now screening.

The West Australian

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