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Courtesy Sony Pictures Animation

Jayma Mays gets smitten by the Smurfs in her new movie.

When Glee star Jayma Mays began work on The Smurfs — a live-action-meets-CGI big-screen rendition of the adored childhood series — she didn’t realize just how difficult it would be to have most of her co-stars be imaginary marks on a green screen. But Mays, who is joined in the flesh on-screen by Neil Patrick Harris, handled the challenge like a pro. “Now I have such a respect for actors who have done this before,” says the 32-year-old native of Grundy, Va. Mays chatted with American Way about the film.

American Way: Were you a Smurfs fan growing up?
Jayma Mays: I was actually forced to watch them because my mom loved the show so much. I think she loved the message in each episode. I remember coming down on Saturday morning and seeing them on. So, because she was adamant about watching, I always pretended that I didn’t want to watch.

AW: Who was your favorite?
JM: I was always rooting for Gargamel and his cat, but it was purely because I was trying to make my mother mad. At the age of 5, you want to do the opposite of what your parents want.

AW: How were the Smurfs as co-stars? Total divas on the set?
JM: I was acting against little dots all day! The first week or two, I was working on my scenes, and I’d go home at night and say to my husband, “I’m going crazy!” You don’t realize how much you’re getting from your fellow actors until you’re acting against nothing. They did have some wonderful voice actors for us. When Neil got there, I yelled, “A human!” I’m pretty sure I scared him.

AW: What should we know about the movie?
JM: The Smurfs get sucked through a vortex and spat out in New York City. Neil and I are married, and my character is pregnant with their first child. So when the Smurfs enter their world, she gets to hone her mothering skills. They cause a little mayhem — there are a few issues. [Laughs.] It’s loosely based on a true story. We changed the names, obviously.