Liana Liberato never expected to star in Banana Split. The actress may have been by pal Hannah Marks’ side to witness the evolution of the story from the very beginning, but playing Clara was not something she thought would happen. “Hannah and I have been friends for 15 years,” Liana told HollywoodLife. “She and I were each other’s first friends in Los Angeles. I was about 8 years old when I met her. We both started out as young actresses and kind of dreamt together of working together. I’ve been doing movies and TV shows and we both have been supporting each other’s careers ever since the beginning. I’ve also watched her blossom into this amazing young writer. I got to read the very first draft of this script when she was a teenager and wrote it, so I got to see the huge evolution of this script from the very beginning. I think that getting the role was really interesting because I was sort of her voice throughout the process of her writing it. Whenever she needed someone to read out loud with, I was there to read the Clara role with her. So we would sit together on my bed, she would print out the script, we would read it out loud together, and bounce ideas off one another. I remember doing that for many, many years.
Liana thought it was just only going to be a “dream” for the friends to star in the movie together. “This business is the way it is, so both of us were understanding that it wasn’t going to happen,” Liana continued. “So it was an absolute dream when the movie landed at American High and they agreed to have both of us in the movie. It felt very full circle for us.”
The movie follows April, played by Marks, who has spent the last 2 years of high school in a relationship with Nick (Dylan Sprouse). When they break up, April spends the summer between graduation and college mending her heartbreak by striking up an unexpected girlfriend with Nick’s new girlfriend, Clara, played by Liberato. Liana noted that she was drawn to the role of the “wild, free-spirited” Clara because she’s “nothing like her.” She added, “I like a challenge.”
Liana believes centering a film around a solid female friendship like April and Clara’s is so important. “I just feel like those stories aren’t made that often,” she said. “That’s what really attracted me to this whole story and the fact that it feels so realistic. I feel like there are a lot of movies out there that don’t portray female friendships or even male friendships. It’s hard to find an actual authentic voice like this.”
As Liana explored Clara and April’s dynamic with Hannah, she learned a “big lesson” about friendships. “I think that a real and honest and genuine friendship can really withstand any sort of hardship, just long as there’s communication and understanding on both parties,” Liana told HollywoodLife. “Everything in this story points to Clara and April being the biggest enemies and not being friends. I think that sometimes when our feelings cloud a scenario, it’s hard to see the truth behind another person. I think that the beauty behind Clara and April is that both of them were able to set aside a situation and see who each of them are outside of it. I think that’s really beautiful. I learned a very big lesson when reading the script and obviously acting in the movie because of that.” Banana Split was written by Marks and Joey Power. Benjamin Kasulke directed the film. Banana Split is now available On Digital and On Demand. Liana also has another film, To The Stars, that will be available on Digital starting April 24.