Judy Moody author, actress talk about movie based on popular tween books

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PHOENIX – A popular tween book series is coming to the bug screen this summer and Kaley O’Kelley had the chance to sit down with the creator and the young actress who brings the beloved heroine to life.

Author Megan McDonald and actress Jordana Beatty stopped the 3TV studio Friday morning to talk about “Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer.”

McDonald said the most critical thing about the film was finding the right girl. As she was scouring the Internet for the perfect Judy Moody, she came across and article about Jordana, who is from Australia.

“I saw her picture and it just stopped me,” McDonald recalled. “I was like, ‘There she is! That’s Judy!’”

McDonald told the producers about Jordana, and they agreed – she was Judy Moody.

“It was so much fun playing the character,” Jordana said. “I just love Judy Moody, the character, herself, and all her friends.”

Jordana, who’s is seventh grade now, had a great connection with the other kids in the movie, and while she did well with the American accent, one word gave her a little trouble – jawbreaker.

Heather Graham also stars in the movie as Aunt Opal, a character new to the series.

“The movie is kind of its own new story,” McDonald explained. “We created the character of Aunt Opal because … we thought it would kind of fun if the parents go out of town and then a new person in Judy’s life breezes into town.

“I won’t give it away, but the scene where Heather enters the family if one of Jordana’s favorite moments of filming.”

More than 14 million Judy Moody books have been sold, and the stories have been translated into dozens of languages.

“Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer” is rated PG. It opens June 10.