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Miranda ‘iCarly’ Cosgrove on Despicable Me and the Weird Life of a Child Actor

You probably know Miranda Cosgrove as the entrepreneurial Summer Hathaway in School of Rock, but if you're under 14 (and if you are, get back to camp!), you really know Miranda Cosgrove — she's the star of iCarly, Nickelodeon's hit show about a spunky girl, Carly, who has her own web series. (A web series? Remember when Nickelodeon shows were about things like green slime and dude ranches? Yes? You are old.) Cosgrove, like many teen stars, also has a secondary career in music; her debut album, Sparks Fly, was released in April. And now she's starring in the animated movie Despicable Me as the voice of an orphan who clashes with a villain played by Steve Carell. We spoke to Cosgrove yesterday about her foray into voice work, her plans for college, and the downside to being a child star.

Did you audition for the role in Despicable Me, or did they just give it to you because of your appeal with kids?
It's funny, one of the casting directors — her daughter was watching my show. And they’d been looking for someone to play the character, and they’d had lots of people come in to read for it. I’m not even sure if she knew who I was — she just heard my voice from the other room, and one of her daughters told her who I was, and so I auditioned and ended up getting the part.

What about your voice was appealing to her, do you know?
My character, Margo, is the oldest of the three little girls in the movie, and she’s supposed to be responsible and caring. I think they wanted someone to sound responsible but young and not too mature.

You're 17, right?
Yeah, it’s funny. They were saying that my voice sounds like I’m 11 or 12. And I was like, really? I never thought that about myself. I tried to make myself sound a little younger for the part, though.

Have you done voice work before?
No, this is my first time in a big animated film — I didn’t know anything about it before. I thought I was going to be working with everybody, and I was really excited about working with Jason Segel and Steve Carell and the rest of the cast, so when I found out I’d be doing all my work alone I was like, ‘What??’

So, what are you up to today?
Right now I'm on the freeway, heading to work at iCarly. My mom is driving. We’d be swerving all over, otherwise.

How much longer will you be doing iCarly?
Right now we’re on our third season, and we’re doing another season after this. I’m not sure after that. I definitely want to mature; my dream is to get to do serious movies. I always go to see independent movies — I saw Cyrus last night with my friends — I love going to the movies like that. I’d love to be in a great independent film.

The transition from childhood star to adult actor is notoriously tough. Do you have any role models?
I love Anne Hathaway, I think she’s amazing. And she was in The Princess Diaries, which is for younger kids, and now she’s transitioned to being an adult actress. It’s really difficult, you have to make all the right decisions, and be a little lucky. Also, I want to go to college. I have tutors on set. Right now I only have math left, which I’m trying to finish so I can have a little summer break.

So you didn't go to high school at all?
I went to school until fifth grade, but that’s completely different. I really want to say I had the college experience. I just want to live in a dorm and do the whole thing. I have to take the SAT in a month, then I’m going to apply to a couple of colleges. USC and NYU are colleges I really want to go to. And maybe I’d make a movie before I went, I’m not sure.

Do you feel strange around other kids your age?
It can be hard sometimes when I’m out with my friends. I’ve known my two best friends since kindergarten, so that’s not an issue. But when I’m out with them places, like if I go to a party, or a school dance of theirs or something, it can be a little funny, 'cause all their friends are around and they don’t know me. They’ve either seen my show or heard something about me. And sometimes it can be a little weird meeting someone for the first time. But then after a while it wears off.

Photo: Williams+Hirakawa/Nickelodeon