Selena Gomez is in SoBe mode.
The actress-singer was at Miami Beach Edition on Friday, chilling on a large white couch inside an oceanfront suite.
“Don’t mind me, I’m just relaxing here,” said a huggy and selfie-happy Gomez, who was in town to talk about her latest movie, Hotel Transylvania 2. In the sequel to the 3-D animated, kid-friendly 2012 comedy about a hotel catering to monsters, she reprises her role as Mavis, the gorgeously Goth half-human/half-vampire daughter of the property’s owner, Count Dracula, who’s voiced by Adam Sandler.
In this go-around, which is out Friday, Mavis is all grown up. She is married to the human Eurotrip backpacker she fell in love with in the first movie, Johnny (Andy Samberg), gets pregnant and has a baby boy, Dennis. The problem: The kid isn’t born with fangs, but grandpa (actually “vampa” — ha!) is convinced he can transform the toddler through a series of scare tactics.
Even though Gomez spent most of her time solo for HT2 in a voiceover recording studio, she had a blast.
“I was lucky I got to meet everybody from being on the first one together,” the 23-year-old said. “That they’re not in the room with you can be a little strange, but you have to focus on your lines anyhow.”
When the cast does get together, it’s a gas.
“How can you not laugh? I mean, these are the funniest people around,” said Gomez of her co-stars, who also include comedians Kevin James as Frankenstein; David Spade as Griffin, the Invisible Man; and Keegan Michael-Key as Murray the Mummy.
Even parents can enjoy the ride. The script, sprinkled with references to senior moments — for instance, Dracula agonizes over using a cellphone because of his vampire fingernails, and the Wolf Man pulls his back out in an attempt to intimidate a pack of dogs — makes sure older-generation folks will laugh, too.
Though Gomez had fun filming, she admits the animation genre is not the easiest.
“The process is weird for me because I’m a very expressive person,” said the Birthday singer. “I like to use my hands, my face. You can tell how I’m feeling by my body language. What’s really hard is you can’t use that, just literally your voice. And I didn’t realize it, but I can be very monotone. I have to kind of reach for that emotion.”
We doubt Gomez had to reach too far.
Fans of the pop star may recall her breaking down late last year at the American Music Awards during a performance of The Heart Wants What It Wants, the debut single off her second solo studio album, Revival. The song was reportedly inspired by her tumultuous (allegedly) former relationship with Justin Bieber.
The album’s second track would suggest Gomez is growing up as quickly as Mavis. The sultry Good for You is about dressing up in a “skintight” dress and “doing her hair up real nice” for a date.
If her turn as a raunchy college girl in 2012’s Spring Breakers didn’t convince you, there is definitely a maturity settling in now. Just take a gander at the Revival album cover: It’s of the native Texan, cross-legged, in her birthday suit.
“I actually feel really great,” said Gomez, who is not shy about calling out Internet bullies and body shamers. “I’m in this place where I feel confident and free of hatred of people trying to bring me down. It’s incredible to have that liberation, and that’s what the album represents.”
Perhaps this new-found confidence is why playing a mother in the HT sequel came so naturally to the onetime Wizards of Waverly Place star.
“It was a weird shift for me,” Gomez admits. “Once I saw my son [played by Asher Blinkoff, 7], I was like, ‘How precious, how adorable. I just want to love you.’ Something maternal came out of me a little bit.”
So if there were a third installment of Hotel Transylvania, would Gomez be on board?
Hmm, that remains to be seen. More dramatic features seem to be the focus now. Next up: Playing a mom again in the upcoming James Franco-directed In Dubious Battle, about 1930s California farm workers.
But she’d jump at the chance to re-team with Sandler, who also wrote HT2’s screenplay.
“He’s just so normal,” Gomez reports about the married father of two. “When people are taking pictures of him he’s just like, Eh, whatever. He’s not fazed. I like it when people don’t get sucked into this business.”