Interview: Dylan Sprouse and Virginia Gardner on Beautiful Disaster

Based on the 2012 New York Times best selling self-published novel by Jamie McGuire, Beautiful Disaster is a sexy, modern-day romance film from the director of Cruel Intentions and After We Collided, Roger Kumble.

Detailing the “will they/won’t they” between Abby Abernathy (Virginia Gardner), a college freshman eager to focus on her studies and start a new social life, and Travis “Mad Dog” Maddox (Dylan Sprouse), a bad-boy brawler and campus playboy, Beautiful Disaster puts their attraction to the test as they intertwine in each other’s lives and realise they may have just met their match.

Following the film’s exclusive event screenings across theatres in the United States, to coincide with its On Demand release, Peter Gray spoke with both Virginia and Dylan about their chemistry with one another, their personal favourite teen films, and how “bar fights” proved the best form of practice when it came to Dylan’s training.

It’s been about two decades since I have been a “youth”, but I will forever have a soft spot for those teenage-aimed, young adult genre of films.  You worked with one of the best here in Roger Kumble, who directed arguably one of the greatest teen films of the time in Cruel Intentions.  Before getting to Beautiful Disaster, I wanted to ask both of you if there’s a teen film that you look to as a sort of comfort film of the genre?

Virginia Gardner: I mean, I don’t know if I’m allowed…I like Harry Potter.  I don’t know if I’m allowed to like that anymore? Sue me, I really like the films.  I think they’re really nice movies.  I find them comforting.  I watch them every Christmas.

Dylan Sprouse: I’m a big Riverdale guy.  I love it.  Dude, there’s this actor on it who plays Jughead, who I think is super hot.  He’s a really cool guy.  And I want to meet him and I want his autograph.  So that’s like, probably the one.  That’s my big one.  High up on the list.

And chemistry is obviously always key in these films, and this had a lot more comedy than I was expecting, and that banter that just bounces off the two of you felt so natural.  I’m wondering, did you know each other prior to this? Or did you have a lot of time to get to know each other to that point where it just seemed incredible natural to bounce off each other as you did?

Virgina Gardner: We met at a Halloween party many, many, many years ago, and Dylan was dressed as the Tooth Fairy or something…

Dylan Sprouse:  I can’t keep up with your interpretations of how I was dressed.  First off, I was dressed as a Wood Elf, alright? Which is a subsect of elf that lives particularly in the forest.  This was not something I think you’d understand Ginny (laughs), but I had a lot of leaves all over me, and I did…Okay, I’ll admit I did look a little bit like the Tooth Fairy.

Virgina Gardner: Totally could have been the green Tooth Fairy (laughs).  But we met when I was doing my first and only keg-stand of my life, and we just had a very funny meeting so many years ago, and a couple mutual friends, and when we reunited on this we just have a very similar sense of humour and a really good friendship, and (we) get along quite well in a brother-sister kind of way.  It was just funny, and it really lent itself to good chemistry on screen.

Dylan, your character dabbles in, I guess we can say underground fighting, and then Virginia yours is something of a poker shark.  Was there much research or training that went into those particular facets of your characters? Anything that surprised you?

Dylan Sprouse:  My research going into the movie was just getting into a tonne of bar fights (laughs).  There was a lot of training, obviously.  I’m like a big lazy cat.  I don’t tend to do stuff like this.  Oftentimes I’m just lounging at my computer desk playing video games, or laying on the couch watching anime.  So, this was something that was a little uncomfortable for me to jump into.  But I think the challenge was something I was very interested in.  I kind of (dove) headfirst into doing it, and it was about four hours of training every day for about two months during pre-production, and then some months in LA, too.  Regardless, it was a short amount of time, I feel like too short to be prepared for that, but because of that we had a crazy crash course.  And it was a fun challenge I was willing to partake (in).

Well, I think it all came together quite nicely.  You look natural fighting on screen, so we’ll say those crash courses worked for you.

Dylan Sprouse: Perfect.  Thank you.

And now all I want to see is you dressed as “the Tooth Fairy” doing that.

Dylan Sprouse: (Laughs) That’s the next movie (laughs).

Beautiful Disaster is available to rent or purchase through Amazon Video, Microsoft Store, Redbox, Spectrum On Demand and DIRECTV from May 5th, 2023.  An Australian release date is yet to be announced.

Peter Gray

Film critic with a penchant for Dwayne Johnson, Jason Momoa, Michelle Pfeiffer and horror movies, harbouring the desire to be a face of entertainment news.