Jack Rowand/ The CW
Ashley Tisdale is best known for her role as teen drama queen Sharpay in the "High School Musical" film series -- and Sharpay will return in 2011 in the Disney Channel movie, "Sharpay's Fabulous Adventure." But for now, Ashley has moved on and is putting her athletic skills to the test as cheerleader Savannah Monroe in the new CW series, "Hellcats."
ET: How did you get ready for the audition?
Ashley Tisdale: My sister was a cheerleader all through high school and college, so she helped me out when I was auditioning. She was: "Put your arms this way, because cheerleading is definitely different from dancing. It is stiffer."
ET: Did you and Aly Michalka know each other before you were both cast in "Hellcats"?
Ashley Tisdale: When we were 12 or 13, actually, I met Aly and [her sister] AJ in acting class. I always found them to be sweet girls. Obviously, we were on Disney, but we crossed paths. "Phil of the Future" [the show Aly was on] was before I came on with "The Suite Life of Zack and Cody." It is really cool how we ended up screen-testing together.
ET: What do you like about Savannah? Ashley Tisdale: I like her clothes. She has like a Southern flair.… When I think of a Southern chick, I think of little dresses all the time. She comes from a wealthy family. She is always in little floral outfits.
ET: Did you dye your hair dark for this role?
Ashley Tisdale: I went dark a year ago for my music. I am naturally brunette. I went blonde for Disney, so I wanted to go back. I went back to blonde for something else and, actually, for this they were, "Somebody has to go brunette." I was, "I will. Please!" I love being brunette. It is so much easier.
ET: But you went back to blonde for "Sharpay's Fabulous Adventure," right?
Ashley Tisdale: Yes, but I wigged it.
ET: How was revisiting Sharpay?
Ashley Tisdale: Great. For me, "High School Musical" really gave me my start. I did stuff before I was on the Disney Channel. I did pilots that were not picked up. I did 'Donnie Darko' and things that were not Disney Channel. But they really gave me my fan base and because of the fans, I owed them another movie … everybody was, "When are we going to see a Sharpay movie?"
ET: Do you like "Glee"? Do you feel responsible for "Glee" because of "High School Musical"?
Ashley Tisdale: Yes and no. I think it is really different. Lea Michele is a really sweet girl and she was, "Thank you so much. Your show kind of paved the way for all of us." I was, "Listen, those shows are so different." I love watching it. I think [co-creator] Ryan [Murphy] came up with great characters, a really entertaining show.
ET: Who would you like to guest star on "Glee"?
Ashley Tisdale: I hear Britney Spears is, so I am excited for that episode.
ET: Where does "Hellcats" shoot?
Ashley Tisdale: Vancouver.
ET: What is that like for you?
Ashley Tisdale: It has been interesting. I feel like I am in college. I didn't get to go to college. I graduated regular high school. I went to regular school all my life. Education is very big for my family and for me, but I went straight to Disney after high school, so I never got to experience going away. I have a house next to my parents' house, so I have always been surrounded by my family. This is me out on my own for sure. In Vancouver, I am cooking and I am cleaning. If I had to be anywhere else, it would be Vancouver. It is so beautiful. We haven't had the rainy season yet, but it is really amazing.
ET: Have you gotten to do any of the flying routines, or do they shy away from that with you for safety reasons?
Ashley Tisdale: I did. Everybody is open to what we feel comfortable doing. As an actress, and as a person, I have always liked to challenge myself. When I saw one of the stunts for the second episode, I said, "That looks like fun. I want to do it." They take every precaution. We have coaches on the set at all times. In rehearsals, I am, "Aly, I am flying. You've got to do it, too, because it is the same stunt." So she wanted to do it, too. She was, "Heck, yes." So we learned it. I actually did the flying in the second episode. We get stunt doubles for the flips and stuff, but we like to go out there and actually do it ourselves.
ET: Is it scary?
Ashley Tisdale: Being up high is scary. But doing the flying back ... I think you have to be a little crazy to be a cheerleader and, I think, I have the crazy in me.
"Hellcats" airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on The CW.