Yeah, right. Like any town would outlaw dancing, as officials do in the 1984 movie “Footloose” and its remake, opening Oct. 14. Or would they?
“Our producers searched, just to make sure it was still relevant, to see if anything like this was still happening,” says newcomer Kenny Wormald, who plays the Ren McCormack role originated by Kevin Bacon, “and they stopped counting at 100 towns that had a ban on dancing.”
Adds director and former Bolingbrook resident Craig Brewer (“Hustle and Flow”), “It’s a lot more common than you’d think. There’s one town in Orange County, they just canceled prom.”
OK then. The story—city boy Ren’s arrival to the small Southern town of Bomont strikes a chord with rebellious Ariel (Julianne Hough) and her preacher father (Dennis Quaid), who supported the town’s ban on dancing—is still relevant. And the highly entertaining remake proves that you can create an enjoyable drama that happens to involve a lot of dancing. (As opposed to a stupidly clichéd movie like those in the “Step Up” franchise, which exists only for the purpose of its dance sequences.)
During our interview, Hough, 23, Wormald, 27, and Brewer, 39 (who passed on the movie twice), all note that the movie is not, as was originally planned/caused Zac Efron to drop out of the project, a musical that would, as Wormald puts it, include singing in grocery stores.
From a Wrigley Field suite during an early September Cubs game (for which Wormald threw out the first pitch and sang the 7th inning stretch with Hough), the “Footloose” trio talked about famous Ariels, dancing vs. acting and Hough and boyfriend Ryan Seacrest’s obsession with mouthwash.
Who’s the more famous Ariel: Ariel from “Footloose” or from “The Little Mermaid”?
Julianne H.: [Laughs]
Craig B.: “The Little Mermaid.”
JH: [sings like Ariel the mermaid]
Kenny W.: It’s Disney, man. You can’t mess with Disney.
CB.: I got a three-year-old daughter. And all the princesses, it’s all about dress color. Belle is a yellow dress. Cinderella blue dress.
JH: Ariel has red hair.
CB: Aurora from “Sleeping Beauty”?
CB: You pass.
So it’s unanimous.
JH: “Little Mermaid.” By the way, my favorite Disney movie anyway.
CB: It’s interesting because you’re a little boy and you kind of fall in love with Ariel the mermaid, but then you become a teenager and then there’s that complicated girl [Ariel in “Footloose”] that stands in front of a train barreling at her and she’s dressed in these tight jeans…
JH: Can I just say something? Ariel the mermaid is the mermaid version of Ariel [from “Footloose”]! She has the conflict…
CB: She’s rebelling against her father,--
CB: She’s like, “Hey I like that kid.” He’s like, “No, you’re not going to go and do that.”
CB: It’s like, “Where were you last night?”
JH: Exactly! I love that!
CB: I’m sure the Disney people were like, “Oh, we’ll name her Ariel because she’s [just like] Ariel from ‘Footloose.’”
What did you think of the original “Footloose,” and why did you want to be part of the remake?
KW: I loved the original film as a kid. I didn’t see it in theaters, but I saw it on VHS when I was about 10 years old. I absolutely loved it. I was dancing then, and to see a guy dance and do the things he was doing and make it look cool was really amazing, ‘cause I used to get made fun of for going to dance and missing baseball practice ‘cause I’m going to dance. So to see something like that really stuck with me forever, and then to come back and get the opportunity to remake that, what inspired me so much, is amazing. (Accidentally drops the ball he’s holding.) That’s cause I missed baseball practice.
JH: And growing up in Utah, if you didn’t like “Footloose” or had never seen it, then something was wrong with you. That was literally our movie. It was shot there and growing up in Utah, kinda similar religious background, and so I loved it more than anything. Those types of movies were the movies that depicted what I wanted to do in the future.
Julianne, as a kid you often passed by the mills where Kevin Bacon did the angry dance. How many times did you stop and recreate it by yourself?
JH: Well, never. Not once. I kind of feel like now that I made the movie and I didn’t get an angry dance, I might just go—
CB: You gotta go ahead and do it. Just rage.
JH: And just do it.
Kenny, how often do you dance out your anger?
KW: You know what, not often. But I say this a lot, if something is happening in my life where I’m stressed out with anything … Two days ago I taught a dance class in Toronto, we were doing promo stuff and I found that after the class I was just very relaxed. I’m like, “Wow, that’s crazy.” Dancing is therapeutic. It sounds silly and goofy but I understand why Ren rages out and has to do that—because he can’t talk to anyone at that point. He can’t do anything about it. So in a sense it seems kind of funny, but it’s actually true, man; people work out and they feel better and relaxed. It’s the same thing. You can dance and express something and get it out. But I’ve never gone into a factory and broken windows and…
CB: Swung from a chain, or do any gymnastic [routines]? No, you don’t do that?
KW: No! [Laughs]
CB: That’s like a Saturday for me, are you kidding me?
You’ve had more extensive dancing backgrounds than acting. How do you feel about your acting skills compared to dancing?
KW: Well, I think dancing is something we’ve always done—
JH: We never had the opportunity—
KW: Because we had the opportunity to dance. But this is now an opportunity for us to act. And I think dancing is very related to acting; you’re expressing an emotion through your body and now we’re using our mouth and words. I think they’re hand in hand. And coming from the backgrounds that we have—we did musical theater, we did performances and we did speak on stage—so now we’re just getting the opportunity which I’m super grateful for. And I know she is as well. Because this movie isn’t a typical dance movie; it’s a drama with dancing so we actually do get to act.
JH: And at one point I was nervous to dance in front of people, I had to think about the next step that I was going to do. Or getting up on stage, I had stage fright to sing. I had to go into karaoke bars. When I was 15 my mom would take me to the Stratosphere in Las Vegas, and we would go to this karaoke bar and I would sing all these songs so I could get confident. And now I’ll sing in front of anybody, I’ll dance in front of anybody, and the same thing with acting. I just haven’t had the experience of actually doing it. I always make the reference, it’s like I took French for 5 years when I lived in London but I can’t speak a word of it because I never actually went and spoke it. Now it’s like I took classes and I did all that stuff with my acting, but I never actually did it so now that I’m doing it it’ll get better and better and you’ll have more confidence.
Julianne, once you become a famous actress in addition to a famous dancer, will you be one of the stars on “Dancing with the Stars”?
JH: [Laughs] That would be completely and utterly unfair. [Laughs]
KW: That’s cheating.
JW: She’s a dancer!
JH: Because I dance. I would have taught these people.
But every season has one star who is better at dancing, or is a singer. You would be unstoppable.
JH: But I gotta tell you though, ballroom and Latin dancing is so different than any other style of dancing. You get like a hip-hop dancer trying to do ballroom…
KW: Like Nicole [Scherzinger], she’s probably never done ballroom.
JH: Yeah, she’s never done ballroom.
KW: She’s done other dancing, but that’s still cheating to me.
JH: I don’t know. No, that would never happen. [Laughs]
I asked my wife if she had any questions for you today, and she said I should ask what kind of boob tape you use on “Dancing with the Stars” to keep the goods from falling out?
JH: [Laughs] I like your wife!
KW: That’s a new question!
CB: I don't think we've been asked that. Tell [your wife] congrats.
JH: It’s called Top Stick. And it’s pretty dang good.
KW: All the girls in the business use Top Stick.
How concerned are you during the dances about having a problem?
JH: Well [for] the dances, the material and the stitching and the boob cups and the elastic they use is pretty heavy duty, so that stuff I trust. The stuff that I don’t trust are these like delicate red carpet dresses that are done by fashion designers, so they literally break and fall because they’re not sewn heavy duty—
KW: They’re not all-terrain.
JH: They’re meant to be just worn. So sometimes you walk and you’re like (freezes, makes ripping sound). Walk back again…
Julianne, you and your boyfriend Ryan Seacrest might be the couple with the brightest teeth. How often do you have to put on sunglasses just to look at them?
JH: [Laughs] Actually I was just thinking about that, I need to get some better…
KW: Crest White Strips.
JH: Yeah, right?
KW: Send ‘em.
JH: We are kind of addicted to mouthwash. Like constantly fresh breath.
What kind of mouthwash?
JH: (talking like she’s on a commercial) Scope, of course.
What’s an ‘80s movie that should never be remade?
KW: “Top Gun.” Although I would do it.
Where they ate the night before the interview: P.J. Clarke’s on Illinois
Wormald, on throwing out the first pitch at Wrigley Field: “I gotta tell you, I was pretty damn nervous. I think I did well. I’d give myself an A-, B+. It hit the dirt. But I was better than all the other sponsor people who threw out their first pitch.”
How it was determined he’d be the one to throw:
CB—“He wanted to be a baseball player when he was younger.”
JH—“And I would have thrown like a girl!”
CB—“I would have thrown like a girl too.”
Hough, on the notion of avoiding another role involving dancing: “I thought that, after I shot ‘Footloose’ I had done ‘Burlesque,’ and even though ‘Footloose’ is not a musical, it still kind of ranges in that category, and then I was approached to do ‘Rock of Ages,’ and I was like, ‘You know, I don’t know if I want to do another musical.’ And then Tom Cruise and Alec Baldwin were attached and I’m like, ‘OK, maybe one more.’”
The pick to win “Dancing with the Stars” this season:
KW—“Derek [Hough, paired up with Ricki Lake].”
JH—“I’m a little biased.”
CB—“That’s a great combo. People are going to really love them.”
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