Vanessa Hudgens has played everything from a high school musical star to a homeless runaway, to a woman who works in superhero damage control (R.I.P. Powerless). But there's one dream role that has escaped her for all these years: a princess. "On my vision board, I wanted to play a princess," Hudgens tells Bustle over the phone. It's just one way Netflix's The Princess Switch has made Vanessa Hudgens' childhood dreams come true.
There are many reasons Hudgens signed on to play Stacy De Novo, a Chicago city baker, and Lady Margaret, a princess-to-be, but high on the list was finally getting to play a royal. "I feel like it's every little girl's dream, to be a princess," Hudgens says. "And I'm also a Disney fanatic, so that's always been a dream of mine."
In The Princess Switch, Lady Margaret and Stacy, two women with nothing in common except their identical appearance, decide to switch places for a weekend. For Stacy that means learning how to carry herself like a royal, something Hudgens was all too eager to learn. "I love the regal-ness that comes along with it [playing a princess]," she says. "The way you carry yourself, the clothes that you wear, it's a whole different demeanor." The actor is known for her boho-chic style (as evidenced by her reigning title as queen of Coachella), "so being able to put on some princess shoes was a fun switch," she says.
For Hudgens, the scene that really made her princess dreams come true was the charity ball, which allowed her to get all dressed up in a red ballgown fit for a royal. "It was amazing, I mean, we were filming in an actual castle," she says, giddy with the memory. "I had like three people come in and dress me. There were so many layers to that dress, and it felt very authentic." The second she put it on, Hudgens says, she didn't have to pretend to be a princess — she was one. "I felt like a freakin' queen. I felt like princess of the castle," she says. "You can't help but just feel regal when you're wearing an outfit like that and have a tiara on."
But that wasn't the only dream The Princess Switch helped come true for Hudgens. "The Parent Trap was one of my favorite movies growing up with my sister," she explains. "We would act out the scenes, we would try to learn her handshake and it was just such a classic movie that I still love to this day."
Of course, playing two roles opposite herself might sound like the perfect situation for an actor, but as Hudgens notes, it was trickier than your average role. "It was very confusing in the beginning, I must say," she says. "It's two characters, but then it's also the other two characters on top of that — when they switch — and you've got a British girl pretending to be American, and an American girl pretending to be British." Sounds like enough confusion to propel anyone into an identity crisis. But, it was all worth it in the end to create a new Christmas classic.
"It has everything you want for the holidays," Hudgens says. "We've got Christmas carols, we've got love and romance, we've got fantasy. And it just leaves you feeling warm and fuzzy inside." Warm and fuzzy enough, Hudgens says, to hopefully give audiences a reprieve from the "crazy" world: "I thought there's no better way to create a little escapism with a Princess-switching Christmas movie." She may be right.