PASADENA, Calif. -- Making a sequel to "Mean Girls" was a bit intimidating for actress Nicole Anderson.
In fact, "it was terrifying," she says with a slight laugh.
After all, the 2004 film, a comedy about a clique of high-school girls harassing two outcasts, has quite a legacy. Tina Fey wrote the script. Lindsay Lohan, Rachel McAdams and Amanda Seyfried starred. None of them is back for the TV sequel. The first "Mean Girls" is the kind of cult classic that Anderson's generation embraces.
"I loved it so much. When my agent called and told me they were doing another one, I said I wanted a part in it no matter what," says Anderson, who plays Hope, one of the new generation of high-school bullies, in "Mean Girls 2" (airing 6 p.m. today, ABC Family). "It's one of the most quotable films for girls my age."
Even around the set, the cast was quoting lines from the original.
Like the first film, this comedy focuses on a new student (Meaghan Martin) at a high school who befriends an outcast (Jennifer Stone) and runs afoul of the school's power group, the Plastics, as a result. "Mean Girls 2" is set at the same school as the original and has the same principal (Tim Meadows). Hope wants to make the girls miserable with pranks, gossip and general harassment.
Living up to the appeal of that film will be difficult, Anderson says.
"We tried the best we could," she says of the sequel's cast. "We make the characters our own. We put our heart and soul into it and worked our butts off."
There's a timeliness to it, too. In "Mean Girls 2," part of the harassment comes with cyber-bullying, something that wasn't as high-profile when the original film came out as it is today. Don't think "Mean Girls 2" is around to make any kind of statement, though a heightened national dialogue on school bullying has taken place in recent months. This is a comedy, not a social commentary.
"The (mean) girls learn the consequences of playing with fire," Anderson says. "Even though the movie's theme is girls being catty to each other and going back and forth with pranks that get meaner, you do see the bad side to (such behavior)."
Would it work if this were titled "Mean Guys"?
"Probably not," Anderson says. "Guys tend to knock each other out and then high-five each other."