What makes me the cool mom? Getting a behind-the-scenes tour of the Liv and Maddie show and meeting Dove Cameron and the rest of the cast of the hit Disney Channel series. Dove Cameron taking a selfie with me? I may have nailed cool mom status for eternity. Or at least until my girls are in high school. We spent about 20 minutes interviewing the cast in between a shoot and then got to take a few photos with them. In interviewing them, they felt like a family. The little banter, kind of felt like what you'd see from a real family. The actors that play the kids definitely felt like siblings and Kali and Benjamin have this distinct parental role even in the off-screen relationship. It's obvious they're close. Dove Cameron, Joey Bragg, Kali Rocha, Tenzing Norgay Trainor, and Benjamin King were such fun to talk to.
Here's a Q&A with the cast of Liv and Maddie
TENZING: I'm Tenzing. I play Parker.
JOEY: I'm Joey, I play Joey.
DOVE: I'm Dove, I play Liv and Maddie.
KALI: I'm Kali, I play Karen.
BENJAMIN: I'm Benjamin and I play Pete.
Are you like Maddie in real life?
DOVE: Actually, funny enough like super, super short version of the long story. I originally only played one character. And then when they brought us back after 9 months of testing, they sort of informed all of us that it was now a Twin Show. So I didn't audition for either character, so when the opportunity presented itself, our Director Andy Fickman was just sort of like, who do you want these girls to be? And so I just sort of split my own personality down the middle and then turned it up extreme Disney style. So I'm kind of a lot like both of them.
JOEY: Except she doesn't play any Sports and she's in Movies.
KALI: I Snowboard. I work out.
JOEY: Welcome to our home.
On the difference between working on film vs. a TV show
KALI: It's sort of like a School year, like when you start a school year, you're like, “I'm gonna get all A's and I love extracurricular activities,” and then you get to the end of it and you're like, “I need Summer.” So, you know, everything in moderation. I feel like when you get to the end of the Season, you feel like, “I want to do a movie.” And then you do the movie and you're like, “I can't wait to be back on a Monday through Friday schedule!” So they're both fun for different reasons. I think everybody goes through that for different reasons.
JOEY: Completely different, like we know everybody, we knew the crew here because we've done 3 Seasons for the most part with the same people in this giant big Black Box thing all day so you get to know these people. But coming here is kind of like…
KALI: A Family.
JOEY: Yeah, like a safety zone. Like when you go to a movie, it's a new crew, new cast, it's a new everything. And then you come back here and this feels like home base, so a sense of security.
KALI: I'm gonna cut you off here.
JOEY: Please do.
KALI: I would also say, and Ben and I could speak to this, we have kids. We are a Mom and a Dad. And a TV schedule is just so lovely for that whereas a Film or an Episodic, you know, which is basically like shooting a Film, you're gone. You know, you're gone around the Clock. So this has been a really nice experience for us to be able to incorporate our kids into this world and they watch the Show.
On whether or not Dove ever confuses her character, being Maddie or being Liv
KALI: She doesn't, we do.
BENJAMIN: Yeah, I've never seen her get confused. We'll walk in and not know what's going on.
DOVE: Well I was so petrified because the Twin thing was just sort of something that just like happened. So they were like, by the way, you're going to be playing Twins. We'll see you on Monday and I was like Ha Ha. I'm gonna get fired. I'm gonna lose my job. They're gonna choose somebody else. So I was just so scared to get it wrong that I like severely over compensated and like went crazy far in the direction of like they have to be completely separate entities. So during the first Season, I think none of that happened. But I mean, I've never gotten confused but as the Seasons go on, I'll walk into a scene, and I'll be like Wait, who am I?
BENJAMIN: But I can't go through a scene with Liv or Maddie without calling them the wrong one. So it's confusing for everybody else.
KALI: Ben and I, do you remember the moment in the first?
BENJAMIN: I know exactly what it is.
KALI: And we had chills. It was the first time she came in. We didn't know. We had done this other Pilot.
BENJAMIN: Our first rehearsal.
KALI: We had done the other Pilot where she, where it was not a Twins Show. Magical things happened over those 9 months. She came back and then the Table Read.
JOEY: It was, I think it was also right here.
KALI: Oh, it was Rehearsal.
JOEY: And we were about to enter into the Kitchen.
KALI: Yes, yes, yes.
JOEY: And she was doing, she was talking to herself for the first time we'd ever see that happen so we have these, uh, Shelby Wulfert and Emmy Buckner are our, um,
TENZING: Liv and Maddie.
JOEY: Liv and Maddie doubles. So in Rehearsal, Emmy and I were shooting, they cover for whichever character Dove is not at the moment. We were watching Dove make the turn from one character to another and we looked at each other and I'll never… This is exactly what Kali did. Sorry about it but we just… She just went like this, “Like this is what's gonna happen right now with this young lady.” It was so…
BENJAMIN: Sure enough, right after that, she climbed the rope and she got to the ceiling and she rang the bell and we were all so proud of her. See how I teed up for Joey?
On their favorite moments on set
DOVE: Yeah, honestly and I think that everybody like in the world is so tired of hearing actors say this because everybody's like “every day is a favorite.” I can't even think of a favorite moment because there's so many. And while that's actually true because we really like each other and we function like a real family. Like, I'll come to Kali and Ben for parenting advice and we fight all the time.
BENJAMIN: Oh yeah.
DOVE: I always win and stuff. But you know, but we really do have fun every single day. I think the first moment that came to my mind was when we got picked up to be a full series and they gathered us all.
It was, because we only initially got ordered for 6 episodes in Season One. And they gathered us all in the twins room and they were like, “Hey, we have an announcement,” and our Director played it off like we were gonna have a really exciting Guest Star. He kept being like, “Yeah, the Rock, the Rock.” And we were like, “The Rock is gonna Guest Star!” And then we got picked up for a full Series.
JOEY: It was like, “Oh not the Rock?”
DOVE: No… I just think that's really fulfilling as an actor. We were all sobbing, we were all sobbing.
KALI: Well it has been a long journey, it has.
JOEY: That's what's so crazy is that it's been…This is the 3rd Season, like we are right now where most Disney Shows reach their peak and are finished and are wrapping it up and they're getting ready to start another Disney Show or to move on past Disney.
But it doesn't feel like that. We still feel new.
KALI: But if you don't know anything.
JOEY: But if you go write Hashtag Liv & Maddie Season 4 right now…
When they started as Actors, was Disney the goal or just an option
DOVE: I think secretly Disney Channel is kind of the goal for every young Actor, like I think that, I think it's just so… You grow up watching it, it's in your home. It's like when you walk into Disneyland and you see Mickey, and you go, is that really Mickey? But maybe it is, you know? I would still go to Disneyland, I would be with my boyfriend and I'll say, “Let's take pictures with the Characters.” He's like, “You're almost 20.” And I say, “OK Hon, I know but what if it's really them?”
TENZING: With Disney Channel, there are the Shows and all the Casts are kids our age, for the most part. But with other Shows, when you find an NBC Pilot who have all Adults and if you're lucky, one of them will have a Son that comes in every once in a while so the part's aren't as plenty as they are at Disney Channel. So when you're a young Actor, odds are for the most part, you're mostly auditioning for Disney/Nickelodeon, and the other parts very, very rarely come up.
So Disney/Nickelodeon is kind of something that everybody goes out for and some people are right for it and some people go on and do other things. And some people come here and settle down. Some people come here and move on, like it's such a Court for young Actors to do whatever they want after it because they publicize you so much and you really learn your Craft and learn your voice. I think it's a great jumping off point. I think it's a great thing for us to have gotten into, especially at this age.
KALI: Oh yeah, I'm still Star struck to be here.
BENJAMIN: Yeah, and for me, Disney Channel was always on in my house like it was on so much that when I was little, I didn't think that there was any other—And so being here is just like, just amazing to me. I still can't believe. like it's already 3 Seasons and I still feel like I've just started.
DOVE: I know. I do.
On how long it takes to switch from Liv to Maddie
DOVE: Hair, Makeup, Wardrobe? 2 hours honestly.
JOEY: No. All the Teardrop Tattoos, and like there's a lot. I will say it's amazing. It's become an exact Science for how long it takes for Dove to switch over so that our AD and our Schedulers can basically put in some cut aways or quick little scene that doesn't involve the Twins while she's changing over and it's just amazing. Once she's ready, we're ready to move on.
When we first started, it took us 3 days to shoot an episode. And they were like, “OK, eventually we're gonna get to 2 days per episode.” And we're like, “How's that gonna happen?” But it happened a week early if I'm correct. I think we actually started doing that ahead of schedule because we were just into our rhythm right away. Now again, as Dove mentioned, we had done a Pilot half a year before with different characters, a different story, but we were all very familiar with each other and know our rhythms and know how to get going in a scene. And I'm always amazed at just how Dove will walk off as Maddie and come in as Liv, the nails and the makeup and the hair and the voice.
BENJAMIN: The start of Season 3 started off pretty terribly.
KALI: Oh really?
JOEY: I mean, you'll like this one, you'll like this… It's a goodie.
BENJAMIN: So first day, the Table Read went flawlessly, knocked me out.
DOVE: We're back. Yay!
JOEY: Second day of rehearsal, I stabbed her [Dove] in the face.
DOVE: I haven't told anyone that was you by the way.
JOEY: Oh, I told everybody. I didn't tell your Lawyers. So we sat down for a week or so and that's like shutting down Production for a week when our schedule is written out by the week, by the episode, by Table Read, by everything.
DOVE: Every minute.
JOEY: So when you shut down for a week and you're budgeted for that week—that's like a big thing. So now we're filming 301 that we were, that we missed because we had to shut down.
KALI: Cause of you. No no, I'm just saying…
JOEY: And we're shooting 302, 303, which is the following week and 304 because I'm gonna be in Vancouver as of Monday so I'm not gonna be here. So we shot in 2 weeks.
KALI: Just for 3 episodes.
BENJAMIN: Yeah, we shot 4 episodes pretty much in 2 or 3 weeks, pretty much 2 weeks. And we did it, and we're doing it. And that's something that's incredible to me.
JOEY: Today's actually the last day of all of that and it's…
BENJAMIN: Provided you don't stab anybody else.
JOEY: But that's, to go from a Show that shot for 3 days because they didn't think we could possibly do it in 2, then to shoot 3 or 4 episodes in 2 weeks is like…
KALI: As a Twin Show.
JOEY: Yeah, in the amount of shooting days.
BENJAMIN: Yeah, yeah, it's…
JOEY: It's at least 3 days of shooting.
BENJAMIN: It's, I don't know, it's amazing to me that we're able to, coming from a Show that was shooting one episode in 3 weeks, and now we can do it now in pretty much a day is incredible.
KALI: We all are amazing.
BENJAMIN: We are the new thing.
KALI: It's flawless.
JOEY: And I've always wanted to be on the Disney Channel so Hurray, this is a fantastic culmination of…
DOVE: I think,—To riff off of what some people were saying. It doesn't really have anything to do with anything that has been said, I think Season 3, the beginning of Season 3, has been my favorite kick off of any Season that we've had so far, including the first one when we were new and excited and it was all… we didn't know what could happen.
JOEY: Yeah, because we started and then we got a surprise 3 days off, love it!
DOVE: Well also, I think it's a matter of security like First Season, you just don't know and you're worried and then you get picked up and will they like us? And is this too weird and you know, whatever. And then second Season, you still don't know. But third Season, you do. It is like coming home and you sort of feel like we know this. We know each other.
KALI:I was gonna say, I feel like we're more bonded than we ever were before, we're just—Yeah I mean not with you, but everybody else.
JOEY: I do believe that what happened that first week, and it was really awful as it was happening, but it really kind of bonded us even further because we knew that we had a lot to do. Obviously, Dove was hurt and…
DOVE: Couldn't see any of you.
JOEY: Herself, she can still see. But now we have this seriously overwhelming task to get through all of this work and we've actually added stuff from episodes down the road. And it was kind of fun just to say, we're gonna do this.
KALI: We're gonna see this through.
JOEY: And it's gonna be awesome and we have, at this rate, we'll finish Season 3 in 4 weeks.
Next on “Liv and Maddie” is the “SPARF-A-Rooney” episode when Maddie and Diggie try to “out-fun” each other at a local music festival as Liv tries to help Andie get over her breakup, starring Andy Grammer. This episode of “Liv and Maddie” airs Sunday, August 16, at 9:00 PM ET/PT on Disney Channel.I've been invited to LA courtesy of Disney for a media event. All opinions are my own.