What’s a girl to do when she wants to course-correct her dysfunctional family? How about getting in some enforced family time by drugging and restraining those crazy parents? That’s what the eldest daughter in the new dark comedy Family Weekend resorts to, enlisting the aid of her two siblings for two days of reeducation. Hyper-intense competitive jumprope champion Emily is a bit of a departure from the role most will recognize actress Oleysa Rulin from, that of quiet composer Kelsi in the High School Musical trilogy. Kristin Chenoweth plays her comically cold workaholic mom. With it’s R rating for sexual content and some drug use Family Weekend’s not a movie to take the kiddies to but it could be good one to view with your older teens. It definitely was a good bonding experience for Rulin and Chenoweth who talked with us about the drawbacks to jumping rope for hours on end, the fun of singing with co-star Matthew Modine on set, and why Michigan in winter isn’t for them.
EW: Had either of you heard of competitive jumproping before reading this script?
Oleysa Rulin: I had no clue and I don’t think I’ll ever jump rope again. You’re not meant to jump for 12 hours straight.
Kristin Chenoweth: [Laughs] I don’t blame you. She was so amazing at it. I had actually seen a documentary called Jump. I was like, people dedicate all their time to jumping rope? But then again I was a cheerleader, so there you go. Pot calling kettle….
OR: I did ballet, so I understand the mentality of “I have to get this.” But I mean, jumping all day… I did get very fit and muscular. It was kind of interesting for me to see what my body was capable of handling. Getting “ripped” for that role was just fun for me. I’d never done something like that.
It was such an intense role. Was there anyone you could model it on?
OR: Me, myself. I have a little type A in here, obviously.
KC: She’s a type A girl, I’m a type A girl. I get it.
OR: We hide it by being Boho chic.
KC: But deep down inside we’re taking notes.
Did that help with the onscreen bonding?
KC: I think it did. When I met Oleysa, I immediately gravitated toward her. And that doesn’t always happen. I recognized my younger self a little bit.
Did that recognition help with the fractured mother-daughter relationship?
OR: It was actually kind of hard to do the scenes where there was damage. Kristin’s such a warm and loving person, so to see her be mean is kind of heartbreaking.
KC: Also, she’s tying me up. That action of tying someone and taping someone, you’re like “You, kid, are going to jail.” Going through that emotion as a parent in the acting, I want her to learn but I don’t want her to go to jail. [But] at one point my character would have happily sent her off to prison.
I did like that even though everything works out in the end, there was some sort of actual consequence for Emily.
OR: That was part of the discussion even while shooting. That there needed to be a consquequence. It couldn’t be like “Oh, and the family’s back together.”
KC: You do something you’re going to have to pay the consequence.
OR: And I don’t think that’s something you see in family films a lot these days.
Between your musical theater background, Kristin, and what we saw you were capable of in HSM, Oleysa, was there lots of singing on the set? There was in my dreams.
OR: You and [Mathew] Modine sang all the time. Like country songs.
KC: We did? What’s sad is I don’t remember when I sing. I know I do it a lot.
OR: You do it all the time. But quietly. And it was so cold [where we filmed].
KC: My vocal cords froze.
OR: And you had to protect your voice. You didn’t want to get sick, so.
KC: Love Michigan. Don’t need to live there.