It’s been a cool 13 years since Christa B. Allen’s preteen Jenna Rink got her birthday wish to be “thirty and flirty and thriving” in the early 2000s classic 13 Going on 30. And while we loved Jenna in the flick, it was young Tom-Tom, leader of the Six Chicks and queen of the side scrunchie, who stole our hearts.
FLARE caught up with Alexandra Kyle on the eve of the film’s anniversary for a behind-the-scenes look at what it was like playing Tom-Tom, channeling a teen Judy Greer and leading the Six Chicks squad.
What were some of your favourite memories from shooting 13 Going on 30?
Working on 13 Going on 30 will always be one of the best memories of my life. I was 14 when they hired me, and almost 16 by the time it was released in theatres. That age can be filled with so much pressure and awkwardness that I feel lucky to have had an experience where I was encouraged to just have fun. Perhaps my favourite memory is when we shot Sean Marquette (young Mark Ruffalo) dancing to The Talking Heads in front of that cassette player. The rest of the cast was in our school trailers, but because my scene was up next Gary Winick (our phenomenal director) let me stand immediately off camera so I could watch Sean dance. They weren’t recording sound so I didn’t have to keep quiet. Sean was wearing a little fat suit and it kept bouncing and slipping, and I thought it was hilarious. I love watching that scene now, knowing that if you could pan the camera even an inch to the left you’d see me laughing hysterically.
Can you share any behind-the-scenes details that made making the film especially fun?
We were pretty obsessed with all the ’80s clothes. I remember my first fitting being a blast and wanting to keep everything. I still have a sketch of the six chicks in their ’80s attire given to me by the wardrobe department; it’s framed in my house and I love it.
What was it like working with such a star-studded cast?
Everyone was incredibly warm and fun. And even though the lead actors—Jennifer Garner, Mark Ruffalo and Judy Greer—had no scenes with us, they made an effort to meet and encourage us. Donna Arkoff Roth, one of the producers, is possibly the brightest ray of sunshine in Hollywood. Whenever we’d talk I’d leave feeling like I could accomplish any dream in my career. Also Gary Winick was everything you’d want in a director. You could feel how much he wanted to understand us kids and would often ask our opinions of how the scenes should go. I know how lucky I am to have been able to work with him.
Did you enjoy playing a young Judy Greer?
I remember Judy being so sweet and silly in person and being wowed by her perfectly bitchy character when I eventually saw her performance at the premiere. She claims to have been following my lead after watching my scenes! We also received a LOT of comments on how much we looked alike. Several people assumed I was related to her. I’ve only become a bigger fan of hers since. She’s consistently great.
Do you kept in touch with any of the Six Chicks?
I do! Some of us follow each other on Instagram. I got coffee with one of them, the fabulous Julia Roth, not all that long ago. We actually went to the same high school, but the set of 13 Going on 30 is where we really became friends.
How would you describe your 13-year-old self?
Unlike Tom-Tom and Jenna, when I was 13, I was in no rush to grow up. I had crushes, but zero interest in dating or partying. I just wanted to watch comedies with my friends and be silly.
When you were playing your role in the film, did you ever think about what your life would be like at 30?
I honestly don’t think I ever thought that far ahead. I’m sure in some ways I thought I’d be a teen forever. It’s funny how far away adulthood felt then, and how all my silly teenage predicaments felt like they’d last forever.
Looking back, what advice would you share with your 13-year-old self?
I’d go back and tell myself not to worry so much about what other people are thinking.
Do you have any new projects in the works that you can share with us?
I just finished a guest star part on an episode of FOX’s Rosewood (with the most fun cast and crew), and I’m doing a lot of writing and travelling these days. I wrote a comedy pilot last year and I’m currently writing a short film I hope to make. [You can follow Kyle and her travels on her Instagram account, @alexandrakyle.]
Can you believe it’s been 13 years already? What’s been the best birthday wish you’ve ever made?
Every year on my birthday I wish for the same thing, for me and my loved ones to have lives filled with joy. Corny maybe, but it comes true every year!