Miranda Cosgrove is best known for her role on the wildly popular Nick show iCarly, but she recently branched out, lending her voice to the young orphan Margo in the movie Despicable Me. With her mom nearby, Miranda talked about her Tina Fey-obsession, preparing for college, and why her mom is terrified when she gets behind the wheel.
What do you like better: doing iCarly or voice work for animation?
I love doing iCarly – I’ve been doing it for such a long time and now I feel really comfortable doing it because I know the cast so well. It’s a lot of fun on set. But Despicable Me was something totally new for me; I’d never done anything animated before. I thought [animation] was going to be easier, but it was harder! I was in a little sound booth all by myself with the directors on iChat in Paris, but really I was just alone in there. It’s hard to bring a lot of life into a character when you can’t see it and you have to imagine it all.
Margo, your character in the movie, is more understated and dramatic than iCarly. Do you prefer drama or comedy?
I love making people laugh and being silly on iCarly and running around doing random dances. But it was definitely fun to play a different character. Margo is like a little adult – she has lots of responsibility and she’s sort of the mom of her two little sisters, so it was totally different than anything I’ve ever played before.
Did you bring any of your real personality to the part?
I think I did. Even though I don’t have siblings in real life, Margo cares so much about her little sisters, and she’s really strong and stands up to Gru. And when I was little, I would always try to get my way with my Dad.
Did you feel like you became an older sister of sorts to the girls who played your younger sisters?
Yeah. I wasn’t in the sound booth with them, but I saw them a lot heading in and out. I’d see the littlest girl who was so cute. In the movie she sings a song about a unicorn, which she made up on the spot. [The directors] just said, “Sing a song about a unicorn,” and she did! They used the exact song that she recorded.
How do you balance being idolized by children and tweens and taking on more mature roles?
I was really excited to do this movie because it’s in the same age group that watches iCarly. But I definitely want to make more mature movies later, like a really great independent film. I do think about [serious roles], but right now I’m just having a fun time doing iCarly. We started doing the show when [my castmates and I] were 13, and now we’re 17. I was a little worried about how they were going to make the show work as we got older, but I think this season we’ve really matured. It’s like I grew up on the show.
Writing is one of your hobbies. What are your favorite books?
I really like Catcher in the Rye and I love the book Flowers for Algernon; it’s so sad. And To Kill a Mockingbird is my all-time favorite. I watched the movie with my mom when I was eight or nine and I fell in love with it.
What sort of stuff do you write?
I write a lot of poems. I love English and creative writing where you get to write fun stories or make stuff up about things that happened to you.
Were there any stories you loved when you were a kid?
Beatrix Potter. I loved those books when I was little.
Did you ever wish you had siblings growing up?
Oh, totally. Being an only child can be a little boring. My next-door neighbor is my age so that’s always helped me. She eats the food out of my refrigerator and sleeps over at my house all the time; she’s kind of like my sister.
How is your life different than non-industry kids’?
The biggest difference is that I don’t go to school. Other than that, I don’t think it’s that different. I still get excited about all the same things, like if a cute boy walks by. I see movies all the time and I love having sleepovers. And I just became obsessed with 30 Rock; I’ve been watching every episode and going to sleep at two or three a.m. every night, which isn’t good. I really do the same things as my friends. My best friend just got a Jeep, and we drive by the house of a guy she likes.
Who are some of your role models?
I love Anne Hathaway, Rachel McAdams, Meryl Streep, and Gwen Stefani.
Do you think you’ll ever leave acting and pursue a different career?
I fell into acting. I was discovered when I was three at a restaurant, where an agent asked my mom if I wanted to join her agency. My parents thought it was just a hobby, something to do for fun, but I ended up loving it so much, I didn’t want to stop.
As a teen role model, what message do you hope to send to your young fans?
It’s crazy when I think about the whole role-model thing. Kids watch my show, and some of them think all the characters are real; they get so into it. And little girls come up to me and tell me they got an outfit like I wore on iCarly – it’s crazy to me! I just want kids to know that I’ve been on hundreds of auditions in my life. I want people to know not to give up, to keep trying and trying and eventually you’ll get there.
Were you raised in a strict household with lots of rules or limits?
Well, my mom is pretty afraid of me driving. She’s said since we were ten that her nightmare is to see me and my best friend drive off together. And I remember, not that long ago, I went on my first date where I drove somewhere with a guy and she was a little freaked out by that. I have to clean my room and do all the normal things but nothing over-the-top.
Do you think you’ll get your own place since you’re getting to be that age?
Well, since I didn’t have the high school experience, I really want to go to college. I want to have the whole college dorm experience because I think that would be really fun. But after college, I’m sure I’ll get a house, but it’s weird to imagine that. The first thing I’ll get is a golden retriever.
What will you study in college?
I want to study film. Like I said, I’m really into 30 Rock and I love Tina Fey. It’s just so cool that she created the show and she writes it. Mean Girls is one of my favorite movies, so I’d love be a [screenwriter].