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“It made me so sad, just all the wrongs that society did to her,” she says. “It’s disgusting what she went through, what she is still going through, the whole nine yards, it is literally terrible. And thank goodness they made the documentary so that people can change their fucking perception on situations.”
The actress, 23, shares some similarities with the pop star, after all. They both were groomed for stardom as children and came up through the Disney ranks, Thorne via Shake It Up (opposite Zendaya) and Spears as a Mouseketeer, and both suffered the predations of paparazzi and negative scrutiny. She vividly remembers meeting up with Kylie Jenner at Urth Caffe when they were both about 15 years old, and the photographers descended.
“What they would say to get a reaction, the disgusting things that they would scream, ‘Oh should I fuck your sister too. Your sister can get it like this,’” she recalls.
As for assigning blame, she says everyone is complicit.
“Even if you didn’t take that photo of Britney Spears, even if you weren’t that paparazzo pushing her, you were that person talking in your basement with your group of friends about this photo and people were laughing, people were joking about her mental health,” Thorne says. “People were joking about very serious things that no one should be joking about.”
Careerwise, she says there are other dark spots to Disney fame. “No one gives Disney kids enough fucking credit. Like, come on, Dove Cameron is one of the hardest workers I know, and she’s an amazing actress. And people still wanna say, ‘She’s Disney.’ It’s like an immediate ‘X’ mark that you have to work out of,” adds the actress-singer, who recently shot the high school romance drama Time Is Up in Rome with Italian pop star Benjamin Mascolo and is releasing new songs, beginning with “Shake It,” which dropped Feb. 19. Thorne also directed the song’s video, out Feb. 26.
Disney alums aren’t the only public figures that Thorne feels are being over-scrutinized in what she dubs a “cancel/hate culture.”
“I’m sure Elon Musk is always thinking about this. You know, ‘Why don’t they just appreciate that I’m a genius?'” she says. “Why you guys all still hating on Elon Musk?”
A version of this story first appeared in the Feb. 24 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.
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