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Principal Photography
Selena Gomez is perched atop a horse named Ariel on a makeshift polo field one hour outside Budapest. It's May 6th, 2010, the second day of principal photography on MONTE CARLO. The 18-year-old actress has been practicing for weeks on horseback, prepping for this, the biggest, most complicated scene in the film. And it's hit a snag. "I think Ariel and I are about to have our first fight,” Selena laughs. "She keeps trying to go in another direction.”

In the narrative, Grace (as Cordelia) has been corralled into participating in a polo match. Who knew the spoiled socialite was an expert player?

As a Texan, Grace is an accomplished horse rider. Selena, however, is not. "I'm supposed to look like I know how to ride Western-style, but not polo style, which is much different,” she says. "I haven't spent much time on horses, so I took lessons for a few weeks. I'm comfortable now, but still depend mostly on Ariel's cooperation!”

Wealthy spectators are seated at luxury tables on the side of the field, and the characters of Aunt Alicia and Bernard are themselves menaced by one of Grace's errant shots. The scene required hundreds of very well dressed extras, along with a fleet of expensive cars, which line the driveway of the adjacent palace.

"Tom wanted this scene to be more reminiscent of a race at the Royal Ascot (the famed English horse race) or the Queen's garden party,” says costume supervisor Jo Korer. "It's a heightened sense of fashion, style and protocol, reflecting a bygone era.”

In the scene, Grace is dressed in tight black riding crops, a white polo shirt, and cap. Cunliffe designed most of Grace's wardrobe to look "as if she doesn't have much of an interest in clothes, but has a sense of style nevertheless. She is a girl who might shop at a vintage second hand store for a top, or get a new pair of jeans on sale, but otherwise wouldn't spend a lot of time shopping.”

Emma, on the on the other hand, considers herself a bit of a fashion plate, though not always with the greatest taste. Cunliffe explains: "Emma loves the New York look, even though it's a bit too much for the town where she lives. She buys chic pieces at places like H&M and Topshop, shoes at Aldo, and is bold and flamboyant in how she mixes and matches.”

In contrast, Meg wears more expensive designer lines that are simply tailored and somewhat restrained, like her personality. She wears a trench from Zara, slacks from Theory, a blazer from Miu Miu, shorts from Diane von Furstenberg, and sandals from Gucci. The colors are mostly subdued. In fact, the entire film has an overriding color palette that covers wardrobe and production design. Paris is depicted in earthy, musky colors – olive, beige and moss green, dark browns, musky lilacs—along with a splash of blue and white.

Monte Carlo, meanwhile, is bathed in color: corrals, pinks, lemon, lavenders, ice and sea blues, periwinkle, turquoise, warm oranges. For the Texas scenes, the color scheme is mustard, ochre, dark grays, dusty browns and greens. No blue! "Try dressing two hundred ‘Texas' extras in Budapest without blue denim,” says costume supervisor Jo Korer.

Texas was indeed on full, if virtual, display, for scenes of Grace's high school graduation. A Lone Star flag waved over a junior high school in a Budapest suburb, while dozens of boot-clad well wishers milled about in the courtyard, awaiting the gymnasium exit of the excited grads. Real school was in session during filming, drawing curious looks from students peering outside their windows. Coincidentally, Selena Gomez received by mail her own high school diploma on the very day of this graduation scene. She was presented her degree by producer Alison Greenspan during a break in shooting, to applause from cast, crew and extras.

In addition to workdays that sometimes extended to 16 hours, Selena spent her weekends doing everything from promoting her other projects to shooting a music video to recording six new tracks for a new album. "She's phenomenal,” says producer Greenspan. "Amazing energy and drive, and, despite carrying such a load, she never loses her poise, professionalism or manners.”

For all the admiration she garnered on set, Selena was herself delighted to meet someone she looks up to, Andie MacDowell. A star of such hit comedies as "Groundhog Day,” "Green Card” and "Four Weddings and A Funeral,” MacDowell was on set for two days for the graduation sequence, as well as for an emotional mother-daughter interior scene taking place in their kitchen. "MONTE CARLO is a beautiful story,” MacDowell says, "and one of the things I liked about it in particular is that it leaves you with the feeling that anything is possible.”

MacDowell has a special connection to the storyline in that she, too, had an amazing Monte Carlo experience as a young model working in Paris. "I was only about 20,” she recalls, "with very little money. I was dating a count, who took me to Monte Carlo for the grand prix. Next thing I know I'm having dinner at a palace with all these aristocrats as the guest of Olivier Chandon, heir to the Moet Chandon enterprise. It was an amazing experience, which I appreciated much more in hindsight. Just like the girls in this movie, when you're young, you don't really question life's possibilities. You just think, ‘Well, why not?'”

On Thursday, May 12th, the company moved into the gorgeous interiors of Budapest's Stefania Palace for the grandest scene in the movie: the girls' appearance at the ball being thrown in Cordelia's honor. The Stefania Palace, which stands in for Monaco's Da Silva Ballroom, was built in the early 19th century in Eclectic style, and is now a popular spot for special events and private parties.

"Budapest has a Parisian scale to its architecture and some very dramatic interiors, such as this one at the Stefania Palace,” says Lucyzc-Wyhowski. "It's an absolutely beautiful room.”

However impressive the room, it is surpassed by the appearance of Grace (again, masquerading as Cordelia), Emma and Meg wearing ball gowns raided from Cordelia's wardrobe. Their transformation into society ladies begins as the trio exits the Hotel de Paris elevator doors on the way to the ball. The effect was dazzling. Grace/Cordelia wore an Oscar de la Renta ball gown that was purchased from the exclusive Beverly Hills shop Lily et Cie (Lily and Co.), which dresses many stars for the Academy Awards®. The one-of-a-kind gown was hand sequined, with layers of netting and petticoat underneath, and tiny pearls tucked in by hand. A hugely expensive Bvlgari sapphire and diamond necklace offset the exquisite gown.

Emma and Meg were equally stunning, the latter in a rented $10K Christian Dior gown with silk jewels and highly embroidered bodice, with a simple silhouette. Layers of the finest silk were sewed in strips atop a beautiful ballet pink underskirt, beaded on top with Swarovski crystals and tiny sequins. Emma wore an eye-popping sexy fishtail dress that Cunliffe says is "beautifully made and classy, and perfectly fit.” The rented gown, hand tucked and cut into strips, with hundreds of tiny buttons, was designed by J. Mendel, whom Cunliffe says is one of the best emerging designers in Los Angeles.

Preparing the three actresses for the ball took two-and-a-half hours in hair, makeup and wardrobe. To draw a distinct visual contrast between Grace and Cordelia, the make-up department used a very light, see-through foundation for Grace, with little blush or eye makeup, while Cordelia had a proper base with a lot of pigment that helped create extensive face-shaping and eye definition.

From the Stefania Palace,

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