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It doesn't always pay to be a teenage tabloid fixture. Miranda Cosgrove, the smiley, 17-year-old star of Nickelodeon's iCarly, may not singlehandedly sell copies of Us Weekly. But at $180,000 per episode, she earns 12 times as much as Disney's pouty-lipped paparazzi-magnet Miley Cyrus. Before Cosgrove became the second-highest-paid underage TV star (No. 1 is Angus T. Jones of Two and a Half Men), she acted alongside Jack Black in School of Rock. More recently, she lent her voice to the new animated film Despicable Me, in which she plays Margo, an orphan who finds an unlikely father figure in Steve Carell's sinister character, Gru. Cosgrove called us from L.A. to chirp about making the movie, cage fighting and her childhood nemesis.
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Was it tough getting into character to play an animated role?
It was a bit of a challenge, because you don't actually have any people with you. Sometimes they'd play Steve Carell's voice, so I could hear him, even though he wasn't there.
Were you concerned you might be having Steve Carell hallucinations?
[Laughs] Maybe a little!
Did you ever get to meet him?
Yes, but it was under strange circumstances. They were doing these promos for the movie, and Jason Segel, Steve Carell and I had to do the conga with a bunch of little people dressed up as yellow minions from the movie. I've never met anyone during a choreographed dance before.
You've been on TV since you were five years old. What's it like to flip channels and see your much-smaller self?
It's a little weird, because it's like having your baby photos out on display. My friends will see an episode on in the middle of the day and they'll call me and start repeating lines from it. It used to embarrass me, but now I embrace it.
With all the media attention devoted to starlet scandals—Lindsay Lohan's SCRAM bracelet, Britney's meltdowns—do you get the feeling that people are just waiting for you to combust?
I don't think I'm going to go too crazy. I'm just trying to get my driver's license.
So we shouldn't expect you to declare your womanhood by donning some sexy bird outfit, la Miley Cyrus's "Can't Be Tamed" video?
I'd probably be a more upbeat bird. Like a cockatoo.
Would you rock the cockatoo mohawk?
[Laughs] I'd totally try that, if they'd let me!
Who would stop you?
I started wearing a side bang the second season [of iCarly], and it turned into this big thing on set. They took me aside and said I had to let it grow out or they'd be really angry at me. So I can only imagine what they'd say if I came in with a mohawk.
That's a little controlling. Have they tried forcing you to date one of your costars? That seems to happen at Disney.
That'd be pretty awesome, if every time I was around the iCarly guys the lights dimmed and romantic music started playing.But no, we're all just reallygood friends.
Does that means there's still a chance we'll see you in the tabloids, canoodling with Zac Efron?
[Laughs] People always say it'd be like Romeo and Juliet if someone from Nickelodeon dated someone from Disney.
If you and Vanessa Hudgens got into a cage fight, who'd win?
I think she'd probably win, to be honest. High School Musical hasthe whole dancing thing on us. They're, like, athletic. They can do backflips and things. I'd be a little scared to fight them—we'd haveto train.
But you could always breakout the Nick star's secret weapon: slime. If you could dump that gooey green stuff on anyone, who'd it be?
I'd slime Stephanie, my archnemesis in elementary school.
Tell us about Stephanie.
She told me in kindergarten thatI couldn't wear curls in my hair, because curls were her thing. When I came into school withmy hair curled, she slapped me in the face.
And now, I assume, you have a curly-hair complex.
Totally. This season they've been curling it, and I'm afraid Stephanie might come after me. I saw her in a movie theater not long ago on the way to the bathroom, and she gave me a dirty look.
Despicable Me opens Fri 9.