Disney Channel is welcoming in the winter months with the new original movie Cloud 9, starring Dove Cameron (Liv and Maddie) and Luke Benward (Ravenswood) and executive produced by Disney alum Ashley Tisdale. EW talked with the stars and Tisdale about the film and how they hope it will reach Disney Channel fans of all ages.
Cloud 9 follows two unlikely friends, Kayla Morgan (Cameron), a prima donna snowboarder who was just dropped from her competition team, and Will Cloud (Benward), a former snowboarding champion who is struggling after a career-ending wipeout. The two meet when Kayla is forced to work at the local dog grooming shop owned by Will’s mother. Determined to become a better boarder, Kayla finds an unexpected mentor in Will, who she realizes can help take her to the next level. So in exchange for help fixing up the dog grooming shop, Will reluctantly accepts Kayla’s pleas to train her and introduces her to a regimen that tests her true commitment to the sport. As the two grow closer, Kayla’s efforts convince Will that he, too, has the power to regain his championship status.
“Something I really love about this film is that it’s not Kayla’s story and it’s not Will’s story. It’s about their journey together,” Cameron told EW. “She learns that she was missing a lot more in her life than she thought when she meets Will Cloud. It’s a story about a girl who wants a man to stand beside her as she saves herself.” Cameron is a relatively new member of the Disney family, though she has already cemented her place as the new Queen Mouseketeer. She does double duty playing both title characters (a la Lindsay Lohan) in the Disney Channel sitcom Liv and Maddie and will play Maleficent’s daughter in the upcoming Descendants. “I’m so incredibly over-the-moon excited to finally be able to talk about it!”
Cameron and her costars had to partake in a week of snowboarding camp before production to be able to look like the professionals they play in film. For some, it was easier than others. “I grew up in Colorado and I grew up snowboarding so that was one of the things I was most excited about,” said Mike Manning, who plays Nick, Kayla’s boyfriend and teammate in the movie. Of course, the actors couldn’t do every snowboarding task required of them. “We had stunt doubles and a lot of them were ex-members of the Olympic team. They were insanely good,” Manning said.
Benward told EW that he “loves the snow” and was excited to be in that environment for his fourth Disney Channel Original Movie, or DCOM as he likes to refer to it. “I’m really proud of this movie and I’m really excited for people to see it.” The movie’s title is named after the signature move that Benward’s character tries to perform that results in his wipeout. “He’s dealing with an injury and he can’t live his dream and do what he was meant to do. He’s hurting and he’s a broken person and through the film he progresses and heals and through his relationship with Kayla, he starts to get back on the horse – or board.” If he were to name a signature move after himself, self-proclaimed geek Benward said it would probably involved some combination of his favorite things — Pokemon and Star Wars. “Gotta catch all those lightsabers! I’m the lightsaber catcher! I’m gonna write that script!”
For Tisdale, producing a movie for the Disney Channel felt like a big full circle moment after getting her big break on the channel with that little singing movie franchise. “Seeing these kids come into a room and auditioning for a movie I’m producing that I was once in that room auditioning for High School Musical is really surreal and I was like ‘Wow, I’m making other people’s dream come true.’ It’s such an exciting experience.” Tisdale, who started her production company Blondie Girl Productions five years ago, says she tends to produce things about stuff she’s watching or already into and found this story had great mass appeal. “It was such a great story and I thought it was great that it appealed to both boys and girls and has a lot of cool action with snowboarding but still has a great story which is believing in yourself.”
Kiersey Clemons, who plays snowboard rival Skye, believes the movie’s appeal goes further than that. Citing classic early 2000s DCOMs Johnny Tsunami and Brink, Clemons says she’s been receiving tweets from fans excited about the throwback appeal. “I love it because people my age are excited about it.” It’s clear the cast is definitely all equally pumped. “I’m really proud of this movie and I’m really excited for people to see it,” Benward said. Cameron believes her character’s evolution throughout the film can also be a lesson to the young viewers at home. “She’s definitely a role model. I learned a lot by playing her and watching the final product. It’s a story that I’m proud to show to young girls.”
Cloud 9 premieres on the Disney Channel Friday, Jan. 17 at 8 p.m. ET.
Watch the trailer below: