When Hollywood looks to remake movies, especially ones that have become an iconic part of American pop culture, fans rightfully tend to get nervous. So when Paramount Pictures announced its final cast selection for their Footloose remake last year, moviegoers began preparing themselves for watching dance scenes to Kenny Loggins without the limber moves of Kevin Bacon.
Tuesday night, the Regal Fenway Theater held an advanced screening of the new flick, featuring the talents of former “Dancing with the Stars” pro, Julianne Hough, and newcomer Kenny Wormald. The screening enabled fans to get the first peak of the completed film, which won’t be released until October, and was filled with surprises for the theater-goers, including a chance to dance on camera to be used in possible promos for the picture, a pre-taped welcome by director Craig Brewer, and a special Q & A session with the stars, Hough and Wormald.
Wormald, a Stoughton native, who studied at the Sherry Gold Dance Studio in Brockton, has made appearances in a number of music videos, including ones for Christina Aguilera, Nelly Furtado, and Mariah Carey, as well as in movies like Center Stage:Turn It Up and You Got Served.
The hometown crowd who went to the screening featured a large selection of Wormald’s friends and family, and all in the audience were delighted to find a slight change in the origination of the Ren MacCormack character.
“Kevin Bacon’s character is originally from Chicago, but I went in to the casting call with my Boston accent to sound different than all the other guys. Then I found out that the guy who went in after me, couldn’t dance,” Wormald told the crowd. The producers decided to go with the idea, and re-wrote the script to make references to Boston, resulting in lines like “I have three rules in my house; do your schoolwork, don’t stay out late, and don’t give people attitude. This ain’t Boston, ya know.” Indeed, Wormald’s Ren had a Boston accent, flashed a Massachusetts license, and toyed with the distinctly Beantown pronunciation of the name of his love interest, Ariel, played by Hough.
“There’s nobody like him. We need a good, all-American guy that’s young, hot–just an all-American dude,” said Hough of her co-star.
Hough, who had been attached to the picture for several years, lasted through a number of changes to the project. What once was considered to be a full-blown musical interpretation of the stage production got scrapped by Paramount, during which time both Zac Efron and Chase Crawford were considered for the lead, was later conceived as a legitimate remake. Director Craig Brewer turned the project down twice before finally accepting the gig, convinced that if a remake was to be done properly, he was the guy to do it.
“I had been attached to the movie for awhile. I actually had to audition twice for the role, but it was totally worth it,” said Hough.
Wormald, who was golfing with friends when he found out he got the role, remembers the moment well.
“I knew it was either going to be really good news or really bad news because it was a 3-way call. When they told me, I threw down my clubs, and ran around the course screaming; then they told me I couldn’t tell anyone because Paramount wanted to make the announcement. I said, ‘I hope its OK that I just told the whole golf course!’” said Wormald.
What resulted was a satisfying movie, filled with the same kind of fun dance scenes as the original, yet standing on its own as a movie with no overt recognition by any of the characters as if “this has all happened before.” There are the subtle homages to the original, with the modernization of the storyline coming through in minor reflections of the time period peppered throughout. While Ren still drives a beat-up, original Volkswagen, he listens to his music on an iPod, rather than a tape deck. He still wears his untucked shirt and tie to the first day of school, but doesn’t smoke cigarettes and chastises classmates on name-calling that uses homophobic words. And those classmates–yes, some of them listen to rap music, know how to crump, and aren’t white. Make no mistake, this Footloose small town might have issues with dancing and loud music, but its reflection of America as a diverse and forward thinking country was a welcomed touch to the film.
After the Q and A, Hough and Wormald stayed to pose for pictures with fans, the majority of which seemed enthusiastically pleased with the movie. Hough, in addition to making the rounds lately on the arm of beau Ryan Seacrest, just wrapped a musical with Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, and Catherine Zeta-Jones, entitled Rock of Ages, which will be out sometime in January of 2012. Wormald, who seemed to gain an instant fan base with the ladies in the audience at the screening, announced he has just landed a role in a new picture entitled Somewhat in the Dark, a surprise for his family as well.
“By the way, I just found out about it. Yeah, I’m pretty excited,” said Wormald.
Footloose comes to theaters on October 14.
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