It's easy to shove Aly and AJ Michalka in with the Disney crowd, since their start included made-for-tween movies, High School Musical aftershocks, and their very own Grrrl Power rock group (which recently changed its name to 78-Violet).
But the blonde sister act, who are 22 and 20, respectively, have managed to diversify their careers with some high-profile ventures that most bubblegum stars couldn't touch. While Aly's comic turn in Easy A helped get the movie a Golden Globe nomination, AJ's been cast by two Oscar-winning directors: Peter Jackson, who used her in The Lovely Bones, and Steven Spielberg, who produced the upcoming Super 8. Just don't expect them to surrender their pop culture roots entirely: We spoke with the Michalkas on the set of Hellcats, The CW cheerleading soap where they're currently playing (yes) very sassy sisters. Hey, if it worked for the Olsens...
Is it easier or harder to work with your sister than with other actors your age?
Aly: For me, it's really easy. It's not something that I have to get in character for, or do a bunch of research, or hang out with her so we have chemistry together. We get along so well, and we work so easily together that it's a no brainer. And for me it's a real treat to have her on set because I'm so used to being away from home. We shoot the show in Vancouver, and I'm like, "Where's AJ! I miss her!" So having her close by is so special. She's the best cast member I could ask for.
AJ: Aw. Actually, I've hated the whole experience and I hate my sister. She sucks.
AJ: No! Come on. We always work on music together, but we've never done anything this cool, so I agree with Ali. The Hellcats team did something really neat, because you never see siblings playing siblings, and it's so weird! We are so in tune with each other as actors, people, musicians... We rehearse lines all the time and we have a really good flow.
You kind of have one brain sometimes, huh? That must be weird for the other people on set.
Aly: Yesterday we had a press conference, and they were like, "You guys need to stop finishing each others' sentences, it's not good when we're trying to quote you!" It's creepy but it's cool.
What's the one thing you steal from each other's closets?
Aly: I steal her underwear a lot!
AJ: Ugh. Really.
Aly: This is so weird, but I come home from Vancouver and I don't bring underwear. Why pack it? I'm like, "I can just wear AJ's underwear." I mean, we're sisters. It's clean. It's not a big deal.
I thought you were gonna say, like, a Chanel bag.
Aly: No, just underwear. We're simple like that. Although sometimes AJ steals my jewelry, because I have the best jewelry collection. I'm a bigger shopper than AJ. She gets kind of overwhelmed and bails on shopping; it's disturbing to me, actually.
AJ: Hold on. I shop. I just shop online, so then I get something delivered from Planet Blue or whatever, and Aly's always like, "Oh, what's in that box?! Let me open it; I want that!"
AJ, are you allowed to talk at all about Super 8?
AJ: I can say a little bit. It's been so hush hush for so long, which is the excitement behind it, but... Let's see... Okay, the coolest thing I can talk about is that the movie is a vintage throwback to Steven [Spielberg]'s other stuff, and it's shot like ET. It looks like a total classic when you see the trailer, and that's what it sounds like. You would not think this is a modern movie, you would think it was made with ET and Close Encounters; it has that feel and that excitement and suspense. And JJ [Abrams, the director] is one of the coolest guys I've ever worked with. He's never done anything with a bunch of young kids before, so it was fun to work with him because everyone thought he was so funny. And Elle Fanning is the sweetest, most adorable thing ever. Although maybe I can't say she's adorable, because she's way taller than me. What else can I say about the movie... It was really, really cool. It's super action-packed. And if you think you know what the movie will be like because it stars young kids, you're wrong - you'll never believe that something with young kids is going to be so gnarly. Gosh, it was amazing. I'll do anything for Bad Robot or Amblin! Anything!
What's in your iPod right now?
Aly: Adele, the new Adele. Broken Belles, Radio Head, Black Keys, and a bunch of seventies rock and the classics like Beatles, Led Zeppelin...
AJ: Heart, U2. Coldplay, Ray LaMontagne, Tori Amos. U2 is our favorite, actually.
What's the worst advice you've ever gotten?
AJ: That's a way better question than asking the best advice ever, because then you know what not to do!
Aly: When people tell teen actors to grow up fast and try to be sexy. That is like the worst advice ever. It never works; you always get laughed at. Look at certain actors taking on roles that are maybe heavy dramatically, but also more advanced than they should be playing at that age. It always disturbs me. Being youthful is a great thing and there's nothing wrong with that.
AJ: People think it's lame to be young but it's not. And you only get to be young for so long.
Aly: Sometimes, people tell me to do some edgy gritty role just to prove I'm a good actor. That is not good advice! That's when you get people making fun of you, going "Oh wow, look at her trying so hard to be something she's not." And if you don't think you're good enough as you are, nobody will.
But you got to talk about your boobs in Easy A.
Aly: I did. There you go. And that was such a fun role, and such a great movie. But you know, I wasn't a teenager when I did that part, and neither was Emma [Stone].
I know you read NYLON's Twitter account. So tell us: Who is Blair Waldorf's soul mate?
AJ: It's Ed [Westwick, who plays Chuck Bass]! I mean come on, they're like, so toxically good for each other!
Aly: Leighton's a friend of mine, actually, and she's amazing. And I have to say Ed, too. They're soul mates.
AJ: They have to end up together at the end. They're so totally sick together.