Is it just us, or is the foundational text that is Freaky Friday—and more importantly, Pink Slip, the pop-rock band at its center—suddenly everywhere again? TikTok is just one big Pink Slip mood board: the plaid pants, the grommet belts, the chunky hair highlights. Major artists like Olivia Rodrigo blatantly channel Pink Slip’s angst; indie musicians MUNA even covered a Pink Slip song last year.
Honestly, it’s not hard to see why. The songs, moody but upbeat numbers like “Take Me Away” and “Ultimate” (actually sung and recorded by Lindsay and fellow actors Christina Vidal and Haley Hudson), perfectly captured what it felt like to be a teenager with a lot of feelings in the early aughts. They also still feel shockingly relevant today, especially for a generation that’s long since moved into adulthood and very much gets the struggle of doing the “same old stuff” every single day.
Plus, the band, more than any other part of the movie, pretty much launched Lindsay into our hearts and minds. Sure, she’d already played a precocious set of twins in The Parent Trap, endearing herself to little-kid fans. But as Freaky Friday’s Anna Coleman, she became the cool older sister to those same fans—and a hyper-relatable star to an entire generation of women dealing with their own adolescent rage. Now, Lindsay is suddenly everywhere you look again too (including *cough cough humblebrag* on the cover of this very magazine a few issues ago), bringing this whole thing full circle.
So, yeah, why wouldn’t we dive back into this seminal moment in pop culture history, via interviews with many of Freaky Friday’s cast and crew (all conducted before the SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes started)? Please enjoy this wild 20th-anniversary ride through the surprisingly juicy makings of a classic, while belting out the lyrics to “Take Me Away” at the top of your lungs in as nasally a voice as possible.
Before anyone could step into the recording studio, the producers had to find an Anna, and they needed someone who could act and sing—the rest of the cast hinged on it. Lindsay auditioned in 2002 and...almost didn’t get the part.
MARCI LIROFF (CASTING DIRECTOR): I kept bringing her up, but I remember everyone in the room said “no” to Lindsay because Disney had already made Parent Trap with her. We saw Mischa Barton, Kristen Stewart, Mae Whitman, Evan Rachel Wood, Brie Larson, Emmy Rossum, Kristen Bell, Shiri Appleby, and Danielle Panabaker.
HEATHER HACH (SCREENWRITER): I know that Madonna really wanted to play Tess, the mom.
ANDREW GUNN (PRODUCER): The cast was going to be Annette Bening and Michelle Trachtenberg, and then we couldn’t work out a schedule with Michelle and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
MARC WATERS (DIRECTOR): Lindsay was not one of the better reads we saw. But she had this compelling thing. Like, “Oh, god, this woman is watchable.”
LIROFF: Once Lindsay was cast, I needed to find girls that could be believable in a band. I was looking at musicians but soon realized their personality was more important than their musical prowess. Raven Symoné, Naya Rivera, Ashley Tisdale, Sophia Bush, and Kat Dennings all auditioned for band members.
HACH: We didn’t want a group of supermodels. We wanted it to feel like a band that you’d actually see in high school.
LIROFF: We cast Kelly Osbourne for the role of Maddie. But her mother became very ill with cancer, so Kelly had to drop out. I had already auditioned Christina for it, so I suggested her again.
CHRISTINA VIDAL (ACTOR, MADDIE): I went to about three auditions. It was at least a month before I even heard anything. Out of the blue, they called me and said I booked it.
LIROFF: Haley Hudson had a Winona Ryder vibe. She was quiet and somewhat shy, but there was a lot going on under the surface. She fit in quite nicely with the group I was assembling.
The band needed to feel rebellious, so the movie’s music team looked to early aughts pop-punk for inspiration. To help the members of Pink Slip get into character, music supervisor Lisa Brown enlisted an unexpected choice as a guitar consultant, and the sound—edgy and fun—developed from there.
LISA BROWN (MUSIC SUPERVISOR): We had band practice three times a week for six weeks leading up to the shoot. It was with Lindsay, Haley, and Christina. I brought on Amir Derakh, the guitar player for the death-pop band Orgy, to be the guitar consultant.
WATERS: Lindsay was fully committed. She never missed a rehearsal, never missed a band practice.
VIDAL: When we were recording “Take Me Away,” I was singing very soulfully. The director was like, “Can you try to say it more nasally and staccato?” That’s where the “on and on and on” voice came out. I was like, “This sounds horrible.” But it ended up being so huge and popular. Obviously, I was wrong.
Of all the bangers to come from the movie (which, collectively, have more than 24 million streams on Spotify), “Take Me Away” became a runaway hit, but its history is complicated. An Australian band called Lash had written the single in 2000, so the version in the movie is actually a cover, which most fans never knew. To this day, it’s a bit of a sore spot.
BELINDA-LEE REID (VOCALIST AND GUITARIST, LASH): “Take Me Away”was a song we wrote for our very first professional recording for our first album.
JACLYN PEARSON, PHD (DRUMMER, LASH): That song was a real product of the time. We were full of emotions and anger, and that same old shit never ends.
MITCHELL LEIB (EXECUTIVE IN CHARGE OF MUSIC, DISNEY): Lisa Brown got pitched that song from Lash’s publisher. We wanted to license it, rerecord it, and have Christina sing it as the movie song.
PEARSON: One day, our management said, “You are going to have a song in a major picture with Disney.” We were told that our song was going to be in the movie, but it wasn’t going to be performed by us.
LEIB: The band wanted us to use their version. And we were like, “You have to understand why we can’t use your version. We’re doing it as a movie band.” It took a negotiation that finally resulted in us getting a synchronization license to rerecord it.
REID: Our names are on the credits for “Take Me Away” at the end of the movie, and that’s it. As far as I can tell, we never saw payment other than mechanical royalties [fees from when a song is reproduced]. It was upsetting for people to think the song was by the cover artist and not us.
Still, Pink Slip fans became obsessed. Like, go out and buy a physical copy and upload it to your first-generation iPod obsessed. Two decades later, people still tell the movie’s creators how much the music meant to them.
VIDAL: Maddie was before her time. I’ve had so many young women, not just Hispanic girls, that are like, “You’re the reason I got into this and why I wanted to do music and act.”
HACH: You take out the band element and I don’t think Freaky Friday would be as popular as it is. It didn’t feel like a derpy Disney movie. The music was actually really good.
VIDAL: There was a famous singer who posted me performing in Freaky Friday and said she was, like, in love with me when she was a kid. My niece sent it to me, “Oh my god, Titi, do you know what this means?”
REID: We looked up MUNA and saw that they played their cover of “Take Me Away” to a sold-out show in L.A.! It made me cry.
PEARSON: We contacted our record label because we heard there might be a sequel. We’ve got this whole back catalog. Maybe they could use another song for the film.
GUNN: We got a draft of a script for the sequel right before the writers’ strike, and it was really good. A writer came up with the most brilliant idea. It uses music and the band in a great way.
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