Teen star Amanda Bynes matures in WB's 'What I Like About You'

Friday, November 29, 2002

BURBANK, Calif. -- Amanda Bynes believes Hollywood shouldn't stereotype teenagers.

"I think they assume all 16-year-old girls are into boys and shopping and all of that -- which generally 16-year-olds are, but not all of them," says the 16-year-old actress, who plays Holly Tyler on The WB's new series "What I Like About You."

So she's pleased that a recent shift in focus on the show attempts to depict Tyler as a bit more mature and complex.

In the pilot episode, when the bumptious teen first moved in with her disciplined older sister, she caused a lot of physical as well as emotional havoc. Now the series (Fridays,7 p.m.) is moving away from the pratfalls caused by Tyler's self-interest.

"It's not so much about what will she screw up next; it's more about the relationships between everyone," Bynes said. "So that's nice, to not have to worry about what thing I'm going to fall off or fall into," says Bynes, who admits the slapstick left her "bruised all over in all sorts of uncomfortable places."

Executive producer Brian Robbins has worked with Bynes since discovering her six years ago as "a tiny little thing with a wonderful sense of irony and comic timing" performing at Los Angeles' Laugh Factory. He soon added her to the cast of Nickelodeon's "All That."

Own show

By the time she was 12, Bynes had her own variety show on Nick, "The Amanda Show," and Entertainment Weekly praised her "knack for slapstick reminiscent of Lucille Ball." Earlier this year, she starred opposite "Malcolm in the Middle" teen star Frankie Muniz in the feature film "Big Fat Liar," produced by Robbins' company.

Dressed neatly and simply in denim, her face free of makeup, the California-born actress chats easily in her dressing room on the Warner Bros.' stage where her sitcom is shot.

Bynes said she used to have her lines read to her -- "that's what you do with kids, tell them how to say it." But no longer. "I want to figure out why I would be saying that, thinking that," she says. "I want to do for myself and be the best actress I can be."

She can't explain her knack for comic timing but believes "the more I know my lines, the better for me. If I'm unprepared and haven't studied, it will negatively affect the timing."

Bynes, whose father is a dentist, is also disciplined about her education and is considering a serious college career such as child stars-cum-Ivy Leaguers Jodie Foster and Brooke Shields.

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