Mandy Moore Doesn’t Need a Time Machine


Loving Mandy Moore is a no-brainer. She’s thoughtful. She’s kind. She’s silly on Instagram and flawless on red carpets. She did an acoustic Elton John cover that’s fantastic. And she’s on This Is Us, an addictive drama about the meaning of love and family.

It’s a far cry from 1999, when Moore—then 14—wore vinyl miniskirts and sang about candy on MTV. Her jailbait vibes weren’t as explicit as Christina Aguilera’s bottle genie or Britney Spears’ schoolgirl straddles, but she was sex-glazed nonetheless.

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Despite her bombshell beginnings, Moore went a more wholesome route. She toured with N*SYNC, starred in A Walk to Remember, voiced a Disney princess, played a villain (masterfully) in the indie comedy Saved, and did ads for Neutrogena and Garnier.

As the face of soap and shampoo, Moore was literally squeaky clean; a reassuring example that American daughters could be objectified one minute and embraced the next. By the mid 2000s, Moore wasn’t just a gifted actress and singer—she was a cure for teen stress in the age of sexting. For that, many love her even more. (Also: have we mentioned the insanely good Elton John cover?)

Now Moore is 34, and still quite awesome. She’s working on a new album, starring with Amandla Stenberg in the sci-fi thriller The Darkest Minds, and getting nominated for Golden Globes. She’s also the latest face of Fossil, appearing with a Hybrid Smartwatch in a new campaign that launches today.

We quizzed the actress and musician about her latest projects, her photo shoot secrets, and Crock Pots, because This Is Us is an obsession and we will never apologize.

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Watch campaigns are cool, because we get to talk about time. If your Fossil watch was a time machine, would you use it? Would you go back and change anything, or tell yourself anything at a younger age?

I’m not big on regrets. The idea of wanting to change the past—I’m a big believer in things happening for a reason. I feel like everything you navigated, you should try to appreciate it, because it brought you here. I do wish I could tell myself, “Hang in there. There’s going to be some highs and lows. Practice patience. Make sure you’re doing things for the right reasons.” But I’m not sure that’s unique to me; that’s pretty evident for everyone in life. Other than that, I’m happy. I’ve been [working] for almost 20 years and I’ve still found new things that make me excited. I’m very grateful for where I am, and that’s partly because of where I’ve been.

What about a time machine for your fashion choices?

Absolutely. There are many words I’d like to have with my younger self about some of those clothes. But I always had fun. It was kind of before stylists became a big thing; nobody gave me any direction one way or another… there was lots of gooey lip gloss that was definitely too much. I would tell myself to err on the side of not going too far with that.

In the Fossil campaign, there are a lot of tight closeups. How do you pose for them without freezing up? Every time someone puts a camera on me, even just for Instagram, I feel like my whole face starts shaking.

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That’s a tough question. It’s still uncomfortable for me, and it’s part of my job. My advice is, you have to get out of your head and try to imagine it disappearing. That’s what I do, honestly. Imagine you’re somewhere else and don’t think about what you look like. Don’t try to look a certain way. It won’t work. And also, try not to listen to all that “advice” that people say on the internet. Like that stuff about knowing your angles? Don’t worry about it. Because we all take selfies, we do know how to pose better, in a way, but it also lends photos to a really staged feeling. We all appreciate beautiful moments that happen off the cuff. I like to think those are the ones we really want to capture.

You were a teen star. Now on Darkest Minds, you get to work with a new generation of them. What’s different for Amandla Stenberg and these teens?

The advent of social media has changed the game for everyone. I’m unbelievably impressed with the young people I’ve met. I didn’t get to work with every [teen] on set, but I had a fair amount of time with Amandla. As a human being, who she is, how she knows herself and speaks to the world, her lens of the world—she’s making such informed choices in terms of her career, but also personally. She’s so unafraid. I‘m still trying to figure that stuff out! And she’s like 18! She’s a force. I feel like, if Amandla Stenberg is a representative of the next generation, we’re in very good hands. If the kids are like her, we’re all going to be okay.

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Speaking of social media, you teased a new album on your Instagram. Can you give us any hints about it?

I mean, I haven’t really started making it—this is the very, very beginning. I put it on Instagram because I felt like I had to make a declaration that I’m ready. People ask about it all the time—“When are you going to make another album?” And I sort of had to get to the point within myself, after much internal debate and conversation, figuring out how I wanted to move forward.

How will you move forward?

I’m writing every day, but I’m trying to do it with no pressure. Maybe just a song or an EP will get released. The [acting] part of my job is weird, because you have to wait for permission to do everything. For an album, I don’t need permission from anyone but myself. I just need to say, “Let’s go, Mandy.”

Do you have any influences, anything you’re listening to?

I still feel like I grew up in the wrong decade, you know? I listen to the same stuff I’ve listened to for years—the Joni [Mitchell] catalog has such a strong presence in my life. So right now, I don’t know what my album is going to sound like. I want to feel organic and modern, with a live band. I’d like to keep it small… I don’t think I’m going back to any pop star moments.

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You’ve been famous for a long time. What’s the most fun thing about fame right now?

Um, it’s weird! My life doesn’t feel any different now, I swear!… I know in my life, I have a lot of opportunities, but it doesn’t make me feel any different. And you know, I feel like with social media, everyone has a platform now. You’re on an equal playing field. Somebody who’s never been [in a movie] can get the same kind of traction as I can—there are no rules anymore. So in that sense, I have a cool job that I love, and I’m lucky enough to do it, and that’s where it begins and ends.

Last question, for all the This Is Us fans out there. Do you, Mandy Moore, own a crock pot?

Ha! I used to, but I think it got lost when I moved. [Laughing] I can’t bring myself to use one.

Too soon?

A little. [Laughing] Maybe in a few months.

Mandy Moore

Fossil



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