LOS ANGELES -- Disney has a long history of turning unknown young actresses into stars: Annette Funicello, Hayley Mills, Lindsay Lohan, Miley Cyrus and Vanessa Hudgens, for example.
The new Disney Channel film "Starstruck" could help put Maggie Castle and Danielle Campbell on that list. The love story aimed at a tween audience arrives like a Hallmark card on Valentine's Day.
The young actresses play sisters who roll into Hollywood on a visit from the Midwest. Castle's character prowls the tourist spots of L.A. in search of a teen heartthrob pop star (Sterling Knight) but it's her younger sister (Campbell) who ends up meeting the guy.
Unless you are Canadian, you probably haven't heard of Castle. She's a down-to-earth Montreal native with a level-headed attitude about acting, actors and Los Angeles. The 26-year-old has known since she was 7 that she wanted to be an actress, a career she's cultivated through almost two decades of work north of the border.
Castle only recently started to split her time between Toronto and Southern California. She's not impressed with L.A.
"We've seen how movies have made Los Angeles out to be this big thing. But when you get here, it's just like any other town," Castle says during an interview at the Disney Channel offices.
There are Hollywood icons Castle admires and longs to work with--Nicholson, Hoffman, Streep-- but for now, she says she's just happy to be working for Disney.
Campbell, a Chicago native, doesn't have nearly the experience of her co-star. In fact, she never thought about acting until she was getting a haircut and a woman told her mother that Campbell ought to get into acting. She soon had an agent and a recurring role on "Prison Break."
Her part in "Starstruck" was easy because it mirrors her life in many ways.
"I totally relate to my character," says Campbell. "Like my character, I have been experiencing Los Angeles from a tourist's standpoint. I like to say I am pretty down-to-earth like her."
Work brought Campbell to Los Angeles for brief visits but she never got to see the city's famous landmarks until "Starstruck." Her biggest disappointment was the Hollywood Walk of Fame, because she recognized so few names.
If "Starstruck" makes her a star, Campbell knows what she'd like to do.
"I would be starstruck if I were to meet Taylor Lautner," she says. "I think he's really cute."
TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
or (559) 441-6355. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.