Bella Thorne has seemingly become a cultural force through sheer willpower. Though the former Disney star hasn’t had a single breakout hit or standout performance, she’s the type of celebrity that suddenly seems to be everywhere. Part of that is down to her work ethic–she’s appeared in three movies and a TV series this year alone, with two more still to come–and part of that is down to some zeitgeist-harnessing je ne sais quois.
Thorne is the actress that everybody has an opinion about, often without having spent much time watching her actually act. But that’s no wonder; she has a natural charisma borne of a tomboy attitude, drop-dead looks, say-anything public persona and frank feminism that makes her the perfect celebrity for our moment. Of course, her newfound fame has brought with it a level of scrutiny that would cause most of us to start looking into the benefits of the monastic life. Her relationships have been a major subject of speculation, though nothing she’s done has been outside the bounds of a normal 19-year-old’s foibles (setting aside her brief just-friends detour with Scott Disick to Cannes).
Romance is the subject of her latest effort, “Just Call,” a collaboration with DIM MAK artist Prince Fox (real name Sam Lassner). The video features Thorne at her best as both a singer and emoter. We follow the pair, in reverse, from bed as Lassner has a wild night of partying and Thorne waits for him to do as the song’s title suggests. Along the way, he smashes a mirror, she smashes a table and writhes around in a bathtub. It’s dance pop you can imagine singing in a basement or on a rooftop club, probably while checking your phone to see if that person who said she was coming is actually on her way.
We spoke with Thorne and Lassner about working on the video, recording voice memos in Winnipeg, and why Thorne is resigned to spending most nights at home. Below is our interview, lightly edited and condensed for clarity.
So what was it like working on the video together? It seemed pretty intense.
LASSNER: It was awesome.
THORNE: Sam was a sweetheart and so nice. He offered to go get me, was it spring rolls? Pot stickers?
LASSNER: Yeah, it was spring rolls, pot stickers. I went to the best pot stickers place in all of Los Angeles.
THORNE: It was so cute and sweet so I got some delicious pot stickers on the music video, and most of our stuff was filmed separately in the video. We’re not together for most of it, which was kind of sad. But definitely for me, breaking the shit out of the table, that was fun.
Yeah, it’s a nice catharsis.
LASSNER: I got to try and smash a mirror, but I couldn’t cause it was too close to the wall, so I had to use like, one of those like pressure blasters, which was also fun, but just different.
THORNE: And dangerous.
How many times did you smack the mirror before you realized it wouldn’t break?
LASSNER: More than I’d like to admit, and I try and come off at least somewhat strong, but that was proved futile.
THORNE: Did you hurt your hand?
LASSNER: Yeah, I tried originally a few times with no gloves, cause I was like ‘Fuck it, it’s just a mirror, I’ll break it.’ But I didn’t actually do any damage whatsoever. I had to put a glove on and get one of those breakers, which sucks.
Bella, was there anything in particular that you connected to the song about? Was there an element that really spoke to you?
THORNE: Well when we first did it, it really spoke to me, the fact that I was going through a breakup and I really felt those lyrics. You know, fight with me, talk to me, treat me terribly, but just call me.
THORNE: And it’s just, I feel like a lot of girls feel that way, for me personally, and guys too, you love people that hurt you so much, and so this song really got to me. So when I was singing it there’s a part at the end of the song. I’m in the bathroom and I recorded this voice memo in the bathroom in Winnipeg for Sam of me saying, please call me. And I remember recording that, and I felt so lonely in that bathroom in that weird karaoke bar I was in, in the middle of Winnipeg. And I was like, damn, I so fucking love this song, and we recorded it a while before that so it was cool.
Your romantic life has been the subject of a lot of scrutiny and speculation, how does that affect you as a young person?
THORNE: I mean for me it’s kind of crazy, the fact that all my friends, we were just talking about this yesterday, and people going through college everybody’s dating everybody. People are hooking up right and left, everybody’s got a new boyfriend all of a sudden, some people don’t, whatever. And it’s only a big deal in their college, or in their high school, who’s dating who. But for me, it’s like that but ten times worse, okay, because not only do I have the media but most of it is lies, usually people are catching me out with people and we’re not dating, we’re not even like that at all. And I’m a tomboy, I have a lot of guy friends more than I do female friends, in all honesty. It’s hard for me to find a lot of girlfriends that are down to get dirty, you know get their nails dirty and just be a tomboy with me, so I hang out with more guys and that obviously makes it look worse. So for me it’s kind of just like, “Damn yo, I’m just trying to hang out with my friends.” And now I’m like, “No, we can’t even step outside of my house.” As soon as we step outside of the gate, hella paparazzi, who knows what they’re going to turn it into. It’s going to be this, it’s going to be that, it’s going to be the next fucking breaking the internet again. So it sucks to have to feel like a hermit, but I guess I kind of asked for it accepting this job.