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September 2, 2014

'Life Unexpected's' Britt Robertson on Prom, Corey Haim and Her 20th Birthday

by Patricia Chui, posted Mar 15th 2010 12:15PM
Britt RobertsonThese days, it seems as if practically every teenage character on TV is wealthy, witty and dressed like a fashion plate -- basically, a mini-adult for whom parents and school are just an inconvenient distraction.

That's why Lux, the character Britt Robertson plays on the CW's 'Life Unexpected,' is such a breath of fresh air on the teen drama landscape. Having grown up in foster care, 16-year-old Lux tracks down her birth parents so that she can be legally emancipated, only to find herself stuck with them (and vice versa). Her birth mom, Cate Cassidy (Shiri Appleby), is a radio host who's romantically involved with co-host Ryan Thomas (Kerr Smith); her dad is bar owner Nate "Baze" Bazile (Kristoffer Polaha), a lifelong slacker who's forced to grow up right along with Lux.

As Lux, Robertson -- at 19 already a showbiz veteran, with credits that include 'Dan in Real Life' and 'Swingtown' -- gives a charming, unpretentious, totally relatable performance, which is one of the many reasons 'Life Unexpected' (which has been compared to family dramas like 'Gilmore Girls' and 'Everwood') is one of the best midseason shows of 2010. We spoke with Robertson from her home in L.A. about where both she and Lux are headed in the future.

Did the character of Lux turn out the way you thought she would when you read the original script?
When I first read the pilot, she's so different than -- like in episode 8, she becomes a completely different person than she was initially, and rightfully so. But when I first auditioned, I talked to [creator] Liz [Tigelaar] a little bit about the route she'd be taking throughout the series and who she would become along the way. So I kind of had an idea and gauge of what would happen this season.

How much input do you have into the character -- parts of the storyline, what she wears?
Definitely wardrobe. Katia Stano, the wardrobe designer, was so generous in letting me help. Certain things I didn't feel comfortable in, we'd change, adding certain things for, say, the formal episode. You know, finding a dress was really hard, what kind of dress, what color of dress. There's always that kind of input that she was nice enough to let me help with.

Britt Robertson in Life UnexpectedWhose idea was all the hats?
That was Katia's. It's funny because Liz, the creator, and I always joke that Lux is Liz. Like, Cate is Liz, but Lux's look is exactly the way Liz dresses. Liz always wears those goofy little hats and the same T-shirts. She tried to steal half of my wardrobe, which was pretty funny. I think it was a combination of Liz and Katia.

Where did Liz Tigelaar come up with the character of Lux?
It's different facets of Liz. Liz always says that Cate is like the frantic, crazy version of Liz. She's sort of the type-A version of Liz, and I think Lux is more of a creative ... she had more to sort of work with in Lux, in the sense that she wasn't necessarily modeling it after herself. The things that Lux does are not things Liz would necessarily do. That's different than in Cate's case, where a lot of things Cate says and does are very similar to what Liz says and does.

When you took this role, you did research into foster families. Did anything surprise you?
The thing I was most surprised at was how strong these individuals were. They didn't take pity on themselves or beat themselves up because of the circumstances. They were so independent and just willing to take life into their own hands and get what they want in life. They were like, "OK, this is what's happening in my life. Screw the foster care system. I'm gonna make a better life for myself -- get my high school degree, go to college, find a career that I love." They were all just so passionate about their lives and about not taking pity on themselves.

Britt Robertson and Shiri Appleby in Life UnexpectedWhile you were shooting, you were roommates with Shiri Appleby. What's she like as a roommate? Who's the clean one and who's the messy one?
Our common areas are very, very clean, so our kitchen's clean, our living room's clean, but as far as rooms go -- Shiri Appleby's a disaster. She will throw clothes on the floor. But also we had a maid come once a week so that we didn't have to do that, so we'd just leave our rooms a complete and utter mess until the maid would come and do our laundry and stuff. She was a disaster as far as her room went, but I can't say that I was that great either. I think we probably equaled out in the messy stage.

Kerr Smith was on 'Dawson's Creek.' Did you grill him about his character on the show?
I was such a fan when I was younger that I pretty much knew everything about the character [laughs], so I didn't necessarily need to grill him. I just thought it was very interesting how different he was as a person from his character. I like to sort of discover for myself as we go along, because we had five months together. I had plenty of time to discover who he is versus who his character was.

Britt Robertson and Kristoffer Polaha in Life UnexpectedCan you tell me about what happens with Lux in the rest of this season?
In the next couple episodes, obviously Lux has now moved in with Baze, and so I think her relationship with Baze is going to start paralleling her relationship with Cate. She starts to discover this inner turmoil that exists in her, but she has no idea why. She eventually will confront that in a couple episodes, and then you sort of find her settling into the relationships a bit more and learning how to be a kid. That's sort of where this season ends for her as far as the relationship goes with Cate and Baze. You'll get to see the guy relationships that she's established -- that sort of comes to a halt in this [tonight's] episode -- and how she's dealing with Cate and Baze and their friction that's going on in that world. Also Ryan and hers break-up and how she's dealing with that, so there's a lot to be had in those upcoming episodes.

Please tell me Lux is going to make some girlfriends. At school, maybe?
I think that that is coming. It's coming. I know ... Poor Lux.

You've been acting for so long. Do you feel like you got to experience all the normal things that teenagers do?
I actually didn't go to high school really, so I thought that I was going to miss out a lot more than I actually did. I did go to homecoming and I did go to prom. It wasn't my homecoming and it wasn't my prom, but I did go nonetheless. I felt like I experienced all the good stuff. I felt like I got the tail end of it, the good experiences. I didn't have to deal with the petty nonsense.

Britt Robertson in Life UnexpectedWhen you say you went to homecoming, did you mean on the show, or in real life?
No, no, I went to a real homecoming and a real prom. I went to middle school out here in Los Angeles for like three months, and I met these two brothers who were in my class, and they became really, really good friends of mine. And I went to homecoming with one of them and prom with the other, so I got to experience their homecoming and their prom -- but it was still fun. They went to high school with all of my friends from middle school, so you know, I still got to experience it.

If you weren't acting, what would you be doing?
I always loved biology, and I'm super-interested in ocean life, so I probably would have been a marine biologist. I still want to be. I tell my mom all the time, "Maybe I can start taking classes and juggle both!" And she's like, "You're crazy. There's no way." So we'll see. I might go back to it in the future, but right now I'm having a blast.

Corey HaimCorey Haim died recently, and it seems as though a lot of child stars from the '80s have had a rough time making the adjustment to adulthood. Do you think today's young stars have learned from that?
I hope so. It's so sad to see people who are so talented -- to see [them] drift away from that. I think from my perspective, what I see, is that people get lost in the shuffle. There's a lot that comes with fame and fortune and you can go out and party until the night is no longer night. I see people do it all the time and then get up and go to work the next day. And it's wearing and tearing on your body, and eventually you have to pick one or the other. For me, personally, I've never really been a super party girl, so I've never really had that problem. I just love to work and I want to stick on that path. I think that some people, they don't have the chance to be young and have fun and make mistakes, and so instead of doing it like a normal kid, they have to do it in the public eye. I think that can be hard for some people. It's hard to be watched by millions of people, everything you do. I just hope that people do learn and grow from other people's misfortunes.

You're turning 20 this year. Do you have big plans for your birthday now that you won't be a teenager anymore?
I want to take a couple friends to Mexico. That's what I really want to do. I haven't planned it yet and it'll probably fall through because I'm just that kind of person, but hopefully it happens.

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