Banana Split is about to become your newest rom-com obsession. The new movie, available NOW on digital and On Demand, takes the classic movie breakup and gives it a whole new life. Banana Split stars Hannah Marks as April (and Hannah also wrote the movie!) April has been dating Nick (played by Dylan Sprouse) for two years before breaking up the summer before college. When Nick starts dating Clara (played by Liana Liberato), April wants to hate the new girl. But that goes awry when the two girls quickly become the best of friends. People ask: Can you be friends with your ex. But in Banana Split, the question is: Can you be friends with your ex’s new girlfriend? YEM spoke with Liana Liberato about the hilarious script, female friendships and what it was like to date Dylan Sprouse on screen!
Liana Liberato: It was a dream! I’ve known Hannah for like 15 years, so it’s very comfortable for us. We’ve dreamt of working with each other ever since we met. It’s a miracle when any independent movie gets to be made. So the fact that her movie that she wrote got to be made, and I’m in it, was an absolute dream.
And working with Dylan… I grew up watching The Suite Life and had the biggest crush on him as a 10 year old. Getting to work with him was so cool. He’s so down to earth and so lovely and so talented. So that was really great too.
YEM: Your character, Clara, becomes best friends with Hannah’s character, April. How did you two develop such a great friendship on screen?
Liana: I met Hannah when I was 8, about to turn 9. I got to witness the blossoming of her acting career but also her writing. I remember reading the very first draft of this script when it was written and I got to see the evolution of the script. There were a lot of times when Hannah and I would be sitting on my bed in my parent’s house reading the script together. We’d read it out loud and see how it sounded. And I got to watch her rework the script from beginning to end which was really cool. And I always read the Clara part.
YEM: Banana Split has such a unique take on female friendships and the relationships between exes and new relationships.
Liana: I feel like very seldom do you come across a rom-com that is about female friendships. It’s like a love story between these two girls who come together and form this unlikely friendship. I feel like there aren’t a lot of movies like that out there. And I think it’s such a testament to Hannah’s writing. She’s so talented and she was pulling from a loosely true experience, and I think that really showed. She really knows how to highlight female friendships. And her writing partner Joey (Power) got to bring in some of his experiences as well. It’s a very special script.
YEM: Are you at all similar to your character, Clara? Was any part of Clara based off of you?
Liana: I feel like Hannah would maybe answer this differently. But to me, I don’t think I’m anything like Clara! (laughs) But I think that’s part of what drew me to the character. I’m not really like this wild, crazy, free-spirited girl. I think that there are elements of myself that have that, but Clara is a whole other level of that. I think that’s part of the reason Hannah wrote Clara the way she did. Because Hannah also isn’t exactly like that either. So I don’t think any part of Clara is based off of how I’ve lived or said. But that really made it so much fun to play her.
YEM: Your character is actually the one who initiates the friendship between her and her boyfriend’s ex. That’s something that hasn’t been seen before in movies. Is there anything else about your character that you found to be striking?
Liana: It’s interesting… because I think that she’s very wise. She’s a very true to the moment type of girl. Whatever she feels is what she’s going to act on. I think that can get you in very sticky situations, but I also think that’s a very admirable quality. That’s definitely what struck out to me. How you can embody this free spirit but also be so wise.
YEM: Hannah Marks wrote the script for Banana Split and stars in it with you. Did Hannah give you different insight into your character?
Liana: That was definitely a big perk of getting to do this movie with Hannah. Anytime I did have a question about a specific line or a specific action, I could just look over and she would be there. I literally had the person who created this character out of her mind sitting right next to me. And I could ask her anything which was great.
YEM: How did you react when you found out Dylan Sprouse would be playing your love interest in Banana Split?
Liana: When Hannah and I became friends, it was around the time that The Suite Life of Zack and Cody was so huge on Disney Channel. So we would finish our schoolwork and I would run up to her apartment and we would watch Disney Channel together all the time. We loved The Suite Life of Zack and Cody and we always dreamed about dating one of them and just thought they were so cute. That was out childhood!
So I signed on to the project and we would think “Who’s going to play Nick?” And one day she came up to me and said, “You will never believe who we just got to play Nick.” When she told me it was Dylan, I thought “this makes so much sense.” This is even more full-circle for us. We dreamt of working together as kids AND we dreamt of kissing Dylan Sprouse. And now we get to do both! (laughs) It was so great.
And we had admired Dylan for such a long time as an actor. He was doing what we wanted to do, which was work on a TV show as a kid. So it was so cool to meet him and work with him to hear about his experiences. And how working for Disney made him the person that he is and how he was grateful for that opportunity. It was cool to hear that he had as much fun making it as we did watching it.
Liana is also starring in the upcoming drama To The Stars, coming to digital April 24th. In the movie, a withdrawn farmer’s daughter forges an intimate friendship with a worldly but reckless new girl in 1960s Oklahoma. Liana stars alongside Tony Hale and Malin Akerman!