Once you meet her in person, it is impossible not to love Mandy Moore. Think whatever the hell you will about her singing, her acting, and her songwriting—from the moment she sets that gorgeous gaze upon you and bubbles her gargantuan and remarkably enthusiastic "Hi!" you're doomed. You adore her, you're all hers, and you're going to become a cheerleader for her cause, no matter what you believe to be true about yourself, your role in the universe, or your particular tastes in film and/or music. Trust me, I've been down that strange road.

Check out our recent phone interview. It begins:

"HI, ADRIAN! This is Maaaaaaandy! Hi! I am REALLY excited! I can't. Even. Tell you, man!"


I've met Mandy Moore three times: twice in the summer of 2004ish, the night her film Saved! opened the Seattle International Film Festival, and the Friday night immediately following, when I caught her partying her then-rather-underage moneymaker off on the dancefloor of an unnamed Seattle gay club (Neighbors). Good times.

The third time Miss Moore and I had a friendly "how ya durrin?" was, well, just right now kinda, via phone, as she sped off to tape an appearance on an episode of How I Met Your Mother, that wretched CBS sitcom starring the likes of Doogie fricking Howser and Willow from Buffy. (Ugh.)

"So, Mandy! Tell me what's going on?!" says I.

"I'm just getting ready to tape How I Met Your Mother! It's reeeallly funny," answers The Moore.

"Oh... How I Met Your Mother!" Ugh. "CBS!" Ugh. "Yeah, um... awesome!" Really. Ugh.

But questionable sitcoms are far from the most exciting thing in Miss Mandy Moore's life. She's just busted out with Wild Hope, her first CD release in two years, and she's counting on this little chunk of her all-grown-up-now heart to bridge the gap between a teenybopping-cover-artist-bubblegum yesterday and the hopeful tomorrow of a serious songstress. She begins her seven-month coast-to-coast tour with certified serious songstress Paula Cole at the Crystal Ballroom. She'll only be drawing material from the new album, so I ask her, "Mandy! Tell me about your new release!"

"I've worked so hard on it, Adrian. I've never cared about an album like this before. It's really very important to me. It's very organic and kinda 'folky'—it's my first real native effort and it's definitely my favorite. I helped co-write every song over two and a half years! That's a long time."

Indeed. Although Mandy never quite seemed to amass the out-of-control success of some contemporaries, it's impossible to deny that she has matured like vintage vino while some (ahem, Britney, Lindsay) have gone as rancid as buckets of Three Buck Chuck. And she is very aware of how valuable staying power can be.

"When people in the late 1990s started looking at these crazy poptarts and wondering which one would kind of fade and be crawling back to where she came from, I don't think people were looking at Britney. But I think I've made good choices and been very, very lucky."

Indeed. Aside from the super hotties she's dated—Wilmer Valderrama and (OMG!) tennis player Andy Roddick—The Moore has remained practically invisible to the tabloid press. And even young love is on hold for the moment.

"I'm a single girl now. With this tour, I have WAY too much going on, so many elements to consider and so much work to do, this isn't a wise time to have a boyfriend," she tells me.

"Mandy, what would be the apex of your life? What is your ultimate dream?"

"Oh, man alive! I've always wanted to play Adelaide in Guys and Dolls. And to host SNL. That would be INCREDIBLE... a dream come true. I love SNL!"

Adelaide? Guys and Dolls? SNL? "Man alive?" There is no use denying it. You will love Mandy Moore. Love her!