Mandy Moore: No More Candy

Making Some Serious Movies

With $70 million in box office revenue and 2.6 million albums sold, Mandy Moore is perhaps the most multi-faceted member of Hollywood's newest power clique.

As 48 Hours Correspondent Troy Roberts tells her, "You enjoy a unique, powerful position in this industry for someone who's very young."

Mandy's reaction: "It's odd, because I sort of look around and still feel like a kid in many ways."

What's interesting about the 19-year-old brunette is that she began her career as a very different person: a bleached blonde pop princess. That was back in 1999, when the release of Mandy's hit song, "Candy," shot the 14-year-old Florida girl to instant fame.

The sudden success was breathtaking, but with it came an unflattering comparison.

"Mandy Moore started out as nothing more than a Britney Spears clone," says Entertaiment Weekly senior writer Dave Karger, adding that Mandy suffered as the girl who reminded you of (but wasn't quite) the blonder, more buxom teen queen. "If you look at the video for Mandy Moore's first single, 'Candy,' it's really embarrassing. She said in interviews that anyone who bought her first album should get their money back."

Mandy started young, singing at local sporting events and starring in school plays such as "Guys and Dolls." Her raw talent and raw drive were already obvious.

When Mandy saw herself becoming just another bubble-gum pop tart, she knew she had to reinvent herself.

"I'm 19 now," she says. "I'm sort of growing up, and you sort of have to take charge a little."

How does she successfully navigate such a transition, to the adult market, without alienating her core fan base?

"You know what? I have no idea!" Mandy replies with a laugh.

In the past year, fans have seen a star transformed. Mandy went back to her naturally dark hair color, and her new music is deeper, more soulful. Remarkably, at a time when so many teen stars feel compelled to act like porn stars, Mandy has kept her career in high gear while managing to keep her clothes on.

"No men's magazines. Neh-ver," she says.

Mandy is, by nature, a homebody, as was shown in an MTV documentary.

"We're very fortunate," says her mother, Stacey. "You know, she'd rather stay home and watch DVDs."

And Stacey would know; the whole Moore family has moved from Florida to live with the young star in a house Mandy bought in the Hollywood Hills – her first major purchase.

Says Mandy, "I'm lazy and spoiled in the sense that my mom does my laundry for me every now and then and makes my bed. And she cooks."

But if Mandy's a momma's girl at home, she's unquestionably the queen bee in the recording studio - and a perfectionist.

One of her goals in the last three years has been to prove herself as a legitimate film actress, a field where most pop stars have floundered.

Actress Heather Matarazzo met Mandy on the set of "The Princess Diaries." She was admittedly not a Mandy fan - at first.

Says Heather, "I was like, 'She's a singer. She's not an actor.' You know? 'She's not an actor. She should not be doing this film.' And she was good. And she surprised me."

Mandy hasn't played it safe by sticking to formulaic teen movies. She's done a complete 180 with the newly-released independent film "Saved," playing Hillary Faye, a vicious, Bible-throwing hypocrite.

Says Mandy, "I am playing, you know, a Christian girl at a Christian high school who's a little overzealous and crazy."

Legendary publicist Bobby Zarem says he thinks Mandy has staying power: "She seems to be making a lot of the right choices."

Zarem, who has represented such A-list talent as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Al Pacino and Sophia Loren, says he believes Mandy is positioning herself for potential superstardom.

"She's unique in that she's a talented singer as well as an actress," he says. "I think that she is handling both of those careers in a balance."

Does Mandy think this is as good as it gets?

"I feel like everything has sort of worked itself out so far, and hopefully it will continue to keep doing that," she says.

But warn her that nice girls don't finish first and her reaction is: "They don't? That's news to me. I think at the end of the race, eventually, they do."