Dove Cameron: Film tour like 'group therapy' after co-star's death
Disney star Dove Cameron has told Sky News that mourning her late Descendants co-star Cameron Boyce during the media tour for their new film has been like “group therapy”.
The pair had worked together since the first film in the massively popular Descendants franchise, released in 2015, and the 23-year-old actress said it had been bittersweet promoting the latest movie in light of his death.
“It’s something that we’re all kind of going through together, if that makes any sense,” she told Sky News.
“I weirdly feel this peace with speaking about Cameron. I think that because he was who he was, I think that on a massive scale even people who never met him feel what we feel.
“So it doesn’t feel invasive as much as it feels like a sort of group therapy; I think it would feel much harder if I felt really like, ‘Oh, don’t tread here’.
“I think that the best thing that we can do is to speak about him as much as we can and to speak about what he stood for rather than just kind of glorifying tragedy, because I think a lot of people want to do that.”
Cameron plays Mal – daughter of Maleficent, a character based on the wicked fairy godmother in Sleeping Beauty – in the films, which follow the lives of the teenage children of some of Disney’s best-known villains.
The original film was a huge hit, and that success was cemented when the sequel reached 72 million viewers across 159 countries.
It means Cameron has been catapulted to fame, amassing 31 million followers on Instagram and becoming one of the most popular Disney characters among young girls.
Being a role model is something she says she has become comfortable with.
“I’ve actually reached a really healthy place with that,” she said. “I really trust myself at this point to only be promoting things – and by that I mean ideas, I don’t mean products – only be promoting certain ideas or representing certain ideals that I would want my daughter to exemplify.
“And I don’t think that that’s the same as it used to be; it’s not the girl next door, it’s not the very thin kind of character that a lot of people still kind of want and crave.”
Cameron says she thinks about the kind of person she would want her children, should she one day become a mother, to look up to.
“What I would want my daughter to look up to is somebody who’s incredibly bold, someone who is involved in current events, someone who has strong opinions and someone who is not like a thinly defined character but very open about finding themselves and making mistakes,” she said.
“And so I don’t really fault myself anything that I’m going through or have gone through or will, because I think that the strong thing to do is to go through whatever that is for you and it’s much more damaging to try to diminish yourself simply because that’s what the public wants, if that’s what they want.”
Cameron also admits that one of the reasons she relates to her character, who is stuck between two worlds, is because of the unusual situation she finds herself in as a young Disney star.
“There’s so many greys in life that are not quite black and white and where it’s like, ‘Oh, there’s no one to tell me what the right call is’, there’s no one to tell me how to properly handle this absolutely rare situation.
“And I have to decide what is going to be right and then face the consequences of that no matter what my choice is, and I have felt quite a lot like that in my life.”
Back in July, Cameron posted a selfie of herself wearing a top with no bra, and faced a backlash from people claiming the images were “too sexual” for her young fans, while others “slut-shamed” her for the pictures.
She says that kind of reaction is something she’s now used to.
“I wouldn’t say it’s disappointing anymore. I think I used to be disappointed by it because I really had this view of people that they would always kind of understand you,” she said.
“When I was younger and first starting to have a platform I did get very frustrated, being like, I don’t understand how I can be doing all the right things and being open about what my intentions are and then people can still misunderstand you.
“We’re in such a polarised time right now that I expect it on everything – even when you don’t post something controversial, people will somehow find a way to link it to something that is unrelated.
“It’s much more a mark of where people are right now than then what you’re really putting out.”
Cameron says the reaction to the post that really interested her came from her young fans.
“A few girls commented back and said: ‘Hey, I’m 12 and I feel this way on a daily basis, that I’m being sexualised or I am getting too much attention for just my basic anatomy, and that messes with my brain and makes me feel sad and scared; it makes me want to hide myself, and this has made me feel better’.
“And that to me is all that matters, right – like, that’s what I would want to teach my daughters, that’s what I would want to raise my sons to understand.
“So anybody who is commenting and trying to fit women into a box and trying to shame you or make something really quite beautiful and natural into something dirty or wrong, I hope they can be swung, and if not they’ll always be there anyway.”
Descendants 3 will premiere on Disney Channel UK on Friday 11 October