We all remember that Kelly Clarkson won the first season of American Idol, but did you know that she didn't want to? Despite winning over America's hearts from the TV show as well as judges Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, and Randy Jackson, there were some weird things going on with the American Idol team. Behind the scenes, FOX made American Idol contestants sign a contract that contractually bound the winner to appear in an American Idol movie. That tragic film was 2003's From Justin To Kelly.
"I cried for a solid hour on the phone with the creator of American Idol and pleaded to be let out of the contract that said I had to film From Justin to Kelly," Clarkson told Entertainment Tonight.
The film was written by Kim Fuller, the brother of American Idol creator, Simon Fuller. Starring (against their will?) American Idol winner Clarkson and runner-up Justin Guarini, the film has been consistently panned as one of the worst movies of all time. It even won the Golden Raspberry Award for "Worst Musical." Rotten Tomatoes even gave it a 10% rating...read the hilarious full review here.
The American Idol movie takes place during spring break in Fort Lauderdale, Florida where Kelly Taylor, a singing waitress (Clarkson), meets and falls for a Pennsylvanian college student, Justin Bell (Guarini) who is visiting with his friends Brandon (Greg Siff) and Eddie (Brian Dietzen). There are musical numbers, choreography, and some very lame plot points of Kelly's best friend Alexa (Katherine Bailess) trying to keep them apart. But don't worry, her other friend Kaya (Anika Noni Rose) falls for a busboy named Carlos. Lots of duets. An endless beach party. Lots of horrible writing. Really not worth the watch. But you can rent it on Amazon here if you really feel like it.
It was honestly an embarrassment at the box office. FOX pushed back the release date when theaters threatened not to play the film. It grossed just under $5 million despite a $12 million budget. Poor Clarkson still likes to pretend the movie didn't even happen. She could also totally care less that it's considered by some to be a "cult classic."
"Oh my God, I hope not," she said. "I just want it to go away. I want to own all of it. I just want it to not be here."
Despite her strong feelings against the film, it secured her and her co-star nominations for breakout star at the Teen Choice Awards (but obviously also the Razzie Awards). There was a whole soundtrack recorded for the film, but it wasn't released due to everyone's negative reception.
Luckily, it seems that the show learned from their mistake the first time and has not forced other Idol finalists, like Carrie Underwood, to star in a movie against their will. Hopefully, Clarkson fully moves on and just blacks out her big-screen, Hollywood debut. After all, everything has worked out for Clarkson, both onscreen and off, in the years since her film debut. In addition to her incredibly successful recording career, Clarkson is a beloved judge on The Voice and the host of her own talk show, The Kelly Clarkson Show.
This article was originally published in 2019.