Mandy Moore's Best Pop Culture Moments
Whether you’re still crying over A Walk to Remember‘s bittersweet ending, shamelessly blasting “Candy” in your car, or counting down the days until the premiere of This Is Us, there’s no denying Mandy Moore’s staying power as a pop culture staple. Though she hasn’t released an album of original material since 2009’s Amanda Leigh, Moore’s first three albums offered memorable hits like “I Wanna Be With You” and “In My Pocket.” Plus, she’s appeared on screen opposite Diane Keaton (Because I Said So), Robin Williams (License to Wed), Chandra Wilson (Grey’s Anatomy), and even helped carry Disney’s 2010 animated musical Tangled to worldwide success with her vocal talents.
Across a nearly 20-year career that’s spanned music, film, TV, and even video games, trace Moore’s evolution from teenage bubblegum pop star to full-fledged Hollywood actress with some of her most memorable pop culture moments, ahead.
1999: Released Debut Single 'Candy' From The Album So Real
Amid a wave of blonde starlets like Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, and Jessica Simpson, Mandy Moore burst onto the pop music scene with her debut single, “Candy.” Still widely regarded as Moore’s signature song, the single never broke into the American top 40, peaking at No. 41 on the Billboard Hot 100. The bubblegum tune was, however, certified gold in November 1999 for selling over 500,000 copies. The single’s parent album, So Real, remains Moore’s only platinum-certified set, and arrived just under four months ahead of Moore’s sophomore album, I Wanna Be With You, which produced the singer’s highest-charting song (by the same name) to date.
2001: Debuted Reinvented Image and Sound With 'In My Pocket' Music Video
While fellow pop stars like Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears shed their squeaky-clean teenage images with raunchier follow-up albums like Stripped and Britney, Mandy Moore reinvented her musical identity with a distinctly mature sound. Working with edgier influences across 13 tracks, her eponymous 2001 album stands as her boldest work to date, leaving behind the bubblegum pop of her debut releases in favor of a lush, worldly sound. The album’s lead single, “In My Pocket,” featured a music video directed by Matthew Rolston (Janet Jackson, Backstreet Boys) that spent several weeks on TRL’s Top 10, peaking at No. 2 despite the song missing the Billboard Hot 100. Co-written and produced by Emilio Estefan, “In My Pocket” stands out as one of the most diverse (and danceable) singles of Moore’s career.
2002: Voiced Aerith In the Disney Video Game Kingdom Hearts
Hot off singing her way to success with three solo albums, Mandy Moore lent her platinum-selling voice to the first entry in the Kingdom Hearts video game series in 2002. Kingdom Hearts received near universal praise from video game critics, who lauded its melding of Disney characters (Mickey Mouse, Ariel, Tinkerbell) with those from other franchises, such as Final Fantasy. The game’s all-star voice cast also included Haley Joel Osment, James Woods, David Gallagher, Hayden Panettiere, Christy Carlson Romano, David Boreanaz, and Billy Zane. Moore played Aerith, a character who first appeared in Final Fantasy VII.
2002: Headlined A Walk to Remember, Her First Lead Role on the Big Screen
Two years before the film version of Nicholas Sparks’ The Notebook invigorated the romantic drama genre, the author’s 1999 novel A Walk to Remember was adapted for the big screen. Starring Mandy Moore as a terminally ill high school student who marries her lover (Shane West) shortly before dying, A Walk to Remember hit theaters in 2002. The film marked Moore’s first topline billing in a major motion picture, following her voice role in Dr. Dolittle 2 and supporting part in The Princess Diaries. Despite poor critical reviews, the film was well-received by audiences, grossing nearly $50 million at the worldwide box office on a $12 million budget. Moore would go on to star in several other teen romance films throughout the early 2000s, including How to Deal and Chasing Liberty, jumpstarting a film career that would eventually include Moore lending her face (License to Wed, Because I Said So) and voice (Racing Stripes, Tangled) to major studio productions.
2004: Starred In Satirical Sundance Comedy Saved!
Mandy Moore went from playing a demure minister’s daughter in A Walk to Remember to tackling the role of a spiteful teenage mean girl in the 2004 cult hit Saved!. The religious satire tells the story of Mary (Jena Malone), a born-again Christian who attempts to turn her gay high school classmate straight by having sex with him, which leads to an unplanned pregnancy. Hillary Faye (Moore), Mary’s conservative, uber-religious former friend, plots against her (and even tries to exorcise her) as the mom-to-be loses her faith in Christ, culminating in a memorable scene which sees a then 19-year old Moore crashing a minivan into a giant replica of Jesus in a fit of anger. The film premiered at Sundance in 2004 ahead of traveling the film festival circuit, where it received positive notices from critics. In his review, Roger Ebert said Saved! was “an important film as well as an entertaining one” and that Moore noticeably was “having a little fun with her own good-girl image.”
2005: Launched Mblem. Fashion Line for Tall Women
After a string of notable film roles in the early 2000s, Mandy Moore extended her reach into the world of fashion, launching the youth contemporary line, Mblem., in 2005. Inspired by her desire to wear jeans and T-shirts everywhere she goes, Moore previously told Today she hoped the collection of “functional, casual and sexy” ready-to-wear clothing would make it easier for taller people to find garments that suited thier bodies. “I’m a tall girl (5-foot-10), so I’m always searching for the perfect jeans and T-shirt,” she said. “I’m a huge fan of shopping — I am a girl, after all — but I find that a lot of the popular T-shirts are too short. I mainly just wanted something that I could kick around in.” The line, which was sold in the $50-range in department stores around the country, ceased operations in 2009 so Moore could focus on her music career.
2006: Publicly Admitted Her Early Albums 'Sucked'
Despite her first two albums, 1999’s So Real and 2000’s I Wanna Be With You being certified platinum and gold, respectively, Moore apparently can’t stand either one, even going as far as to say they “sucked.”
“Ugh, those were awful. If I had the money, I would give a refund to everyone who bought my first two albums,” she said in a 2006 interview. “Whenever people ask, ‘Which of your albums should I listen to?’ I say, ‘Nothing but Coverage.’ Burn the rest.” Later that year, as a guest on Los Angeles’ KROQ-FM radio program, The Kevin and Bean Show, Moore fulfilled show contributor Dave the King of Mexico’s request for a refund after previously purchasing So Real at a discounted price of $7.99.
2007-2009: Released Wild Hope and Amanda Leigh Albums
Further moving away from the sounds of her early career, Mandy Moore released two folk-pop albums between 2007 and 2009. Both Wild Hope and Amanda Leigh highlighted Moore’s sonic evolution from teen pop star to a folk-influenced singer-songwriter.
Sessions for Wild Hope began in 2004 shortly after Moore released her compilation album Coverage. Following the premiere of buzzy single “Hey!,” which didn’t make the album’s final tracklist, Moore’s musical direction shifted to include more organic instrumentation versus the electronic sounds of her early work. John Alagía (Dave Matthews Band, Jason Mraz) produced the album, and Mraz even contributed backing vocals to the track “Slummin’ in Paradise.” Wild Hope debuted to sales of 25,000, led by the single “Extraordinary,” which sees the singer reflecting on her desire to open up while under the scrutinizing gaze of the public eye. “I was a daydream, quiet and unseen / I lived in stories but inside I kept a mystery” the lyrics read. “I was a starling, nobody’s darling / Flying in perfect circles just for company.”
Combining elements of country, folk and 1960s pop-rock, Moore released her next album, Amanda Leigh, in 2009. Fronted by the lead single “I Could Break Your Heart Any Day of the Week,” the indie set featured production from Mike Viola, who’s worked with Ryan Adams and Adam Schlesinger in the past. Amanda Leigh debuted on Billboard’s Independent Albums chart at No. 4, selling 16,000 copies in its first week of release.
2010: Guest-Starred on Grey's Anatomy
Though she’d already graduated from pop sensation to bona fide movie star with roles in A Walk to Remember, License to Wed, and Because I Said So, Mandy Moore had yet to land a significant recurring part on a major network TV show. That changed in 2010, when she appeared on four episodes of Shonda Rhimes’ ABC drama Grey’s Anatomy across seasons 6 and 7, playing Mary Portman, a patient who, alongside Dr. Bailey (Chandra Wilson), tries to save Dr. Charles Percy’s life after he’s fatally wounded by a gunman during the season finale. Mary later returns to the hospital for a surgical procedure in the season 7 episode “These Arms of Mine.” Bailey performs the operation, though she does not survive, thus ending Moore’s time on Grey’s Anatomy.
2010: Voiced Rapunzel in Disney's Animated Tangled
Her face never appears on-screen throughout the film’s 100-minute runtime, but Mandy Moore’s pipes helped Tangled soar to over $200 million at the domestic box office, making it her top-grossing theatrical release to date. Voicing the character of Rapunzel in a reimagined, animated version of the classic tale, Moore contributed seven recordings to the film’s official soundtrack, including “I See the Light,” which was nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Song. Moore performed the song alongside co-star Zachary Levi at the 2011 Academy Awards. Since its release, Tangled has inspired a themed section of the new Shanghai Disneyland, set to open in June 2016, and an upcoming TV series, in which Moore will reprise her role.
2013: Landed Voice Acting Role on Disney Junior's Sheriff Callie's Wild West
Though she hasn’t appeared on the big screen for a number of years, Mandy Moore’s TV voice acting game has been, to quote the title of her iconic single, “So Real.” She currently headlines the Disney Junior animated series Sheriff Callie’s Wild West, which premiered in 2013 and has thus far aired nearly 40 episodes. Her character, Callie, is a feline cowgirl who presides over the town of Nice and Friendly Corners, spewing catchphrases like “sweet sassafras!” and “leaping lassos!” Moore is set for more live-action appearances in the near future, however. She will next star in the shark-themed thriller 47 Meters Down, a film she’s heavily chronicled the production of via her personal Instagram account. She will also star alongside Milo Ventimiglia and Sterling K. Brown in This Is Us, an upcoming series in the works from NBC.