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Mandy Moore Explains Why She Went Brunette for A Walk to Remember and Never Looked Back

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Millennials are used to being the youthful butt of other generations’ jokes, but while this age group has learned to handle the good-natured ribbing from our elders, one thing our demographic doesn’t take so kindly to is the reminder that we too are aging. As much as we loathe to admit it, we’re no longer the new kids on the block. And if there’s one thing guaranteed to make the under 34-set feel ancient right now, it’s the reminder that one of their beloved pre-teen cinematic classics, A Walk to Remember, is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year. And to celebrate, its stars Mandy Moore and Shane West sat down with Entertainment Weekly to reminisce about their experience and explain how the process of filming the movie changed the former pop star’s perception of herself forever.

In the interview, the This Is Us actress, 32, was asked about her character’s rather unflattering wardrobe and beauty choices, to which she responds, “Well I was blonde then and, for the most part, haven’t gone back since. It was transformative because it came at a time in my life when I was only seen from the pop music landscape and through that lens. There was a real significance to coloring my hair. As silly as it sounds, there was a real significance in the way that people saw me, but also in the way that I carried myself and that I saw myself. It was the last little piece of the puzzle I think in terms of getting into the character.”

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As for the simple makeup and wardrobe choices, she says, “I knew what I was signing up for. I’ve never been someone who’s put a tremendous amount of time and effort into that, especially when it comes to playing parts. I don’t really care. I was excited to take on a role like this knowing that I was going to completely step outside of myself and dress in a way and in a manner that was appropriate for this character.”

And it turns out getting just the right shade of pallor was a challenge as well, she explained, “I think what they had struggled with initially was having to keep the fact that my character was sick under wraps until a certain point in the project. I remember the first makeup test when they cut my bangs and were doing the first camera test. They made me so ghostly white that it was just a little uncalled for — I’m not dead yet! So they had to recalibrate and figure out how to make me not look the picture of health, but also not like I was on death’s door.”

West concurred that Moore’s aesthetic transformation was indicative of something much deeper, adding, “I remember that Mandy was very nervous about dying her hair. It’s amazing how it really changed her life — well the movie changed all of our lives — but hers especially, aesthetically. She kind of went with that look after that — she didn’t go back to the platinum blonde.” Proof that sometimes a simple visual shift can symbolize something much more profound.

What are your memories of A Walk to Remember? Do you like Mandy better as a blonde or brunette? Sound off below!