"I thought that going the independent route would probably be best for me," Selena Gomez said of her career path decisions beyond her Disneyfied beginnings on "Hannah Montana" and "The Wizards of Waverly Place." "And I think if there's anybody that I'm going to take that risk with, it's Harmony."
That's quite the statement. Korine — known best for controversial, unsettling films like "Gummo" and "Trash Humpers" — is about as far from Disney as Gomez could get. In "Spring Breakers," Korine has her onscreen almost exclusively in a tiny bikini while drinking and doing drugs. She plays one of four broke college girls who rob a fast food restaurant in order to pay for their spring break. But they land in jail, where a drug and arms dealer (James Franco) bails them out and wants them to do some dirty work.
At a press conference in Toronto yesterday ahead of the film's North American premiere, Gomez happily opened up about the genesis of her participation in the film.
"When we first met, we talked for like two hours about the script and I think he really believed in me," she said of Korine. "In a way, he took a chance on me to put me in this movie. It's been a really great experience, but it's a hard transition. I'm having fun doing it, so hopefully people will accept it."
Korine had a more detailed account of his first meeting with Gomez, noting he was a little worried their personalities might clash.
"Selena came out to Nashville and auditioned in my living room," he recalled. "I didn't know anything about her personally… And we have all this crazy artwork in our house and I was like flipping it over because I didn't want to spook her."
"He thought I was super, super Christian," Gomez laughed. "So he put away all of his art. I was like 'if I was a Christian girl, I probably wouldn't have done this movie."
For Korine, Gomez's casting (alongside another Disney alumni, "High School Musical" star Vanessa Hudgens) is a dream come true.
"I had the idea for the film, and these girls and what would happen," he said. "How they would look, the types of music they'd listen to, the things they would watch… It was kind of a dream. When I make movies I always start out with a dream… The ultimate of what you could have in your film. Selena and these girls were really that to me. They were of this world and of this culture and at the same time they're pretty amazing and talented."
They were also willing to do whatever Korine needed them to.
"Harmony got us to do things that I didn't even think I was able to do," Gomez said with a big smile on her face. "It's a dangerous thing. He could probably get me to do anything… I didn't think I'd ever be able to smoke a bong."