MoviesOnline sat down with Kenny Wormald and Julianne Hough at a roundtable interview to talk about what it was like bringing to life the iconic characters made famous in the original 1984 “Footloose.” They told us how much they enjoyed working with director Craig Brewer, described their most challenging scenes, and recalled moments in their own lives where they rebelled against the status quo much like their characters do in the movie. They also discussed what they have coming up next. Julianne talked about working opposite Tom Cruise in “Rock of Ages” and her upcoming role in Diablo Cody’s new movie, “Lamb of God.” Kenny revealed he was just attached to a cool thriller called “Someone in the Dark” to be directed by Carlos Brooks.
Q: You have a dog at home, Julianne?
Hough: I have two. I have Lexi who’s three. She’s a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and then I have Harley who’s six months and she’s a tri-color.
Q: They didn’t walk the carpet with you?
Hough: No. I should’ve had my dogs there though.
Wormald: You have them everywhere else. They were on tour with us, too. They’re like, ‘We’re shitting on Julianne’s rug right now.’
Hough: Basically, yeah, or on the Four Season’s.
Q: Julianne, now that you’ve done singing, dancing and acting, is there anything else you want to conquer? Juggling?
Hough: I want to cook, but not as a thing. I just want to cook for myself and my family. I want to learn how to play guitar, speak a language and cook. Those are the three things. Or a musical instrument, I should say.
Q: For both of you, these were your first big roles and they’re also quite iconic roles. What kind of pressure was that and how did you approach it?
Wormald: It’s more of a responsibility than a pressure, because if you apply pressure and you go at it thinking about it like that, then you’re kind of already losing, I think. So, having Craig Brewer was fucking incredible. Pardon my French, but he’s that guy. So, he took a lot of the pressures off and we felt like we were in the perfect situation, in great hands and so that helps.
Hough: Yeah. The pressure was kind of on him and the studio and the producers. Luckily the producers were from the original and so that was great, and then we got to really make it our own and do the characters how we perceived them, especially for modern day times.
Q: Did you go in more confident about the dancing and were you then able to be more focused on the acting so that you were able to get those performances across?
Wormald: Yeah, definitely.
Hough: Yeah. I think we probably did more so than they did because we do actually dance.
Wormald: We knew that the dance stuff would come kind of easier. That’s what we’ve been doing our whole lives and we finally now got the opportunity to actually take advantage of it and perform equally, as high as the dancing.
Q: What were the most challenging scenes for you guys?
Hough: I mean, the most emotional was definitely the one in the church with Dennis [Quaid], but that was very real for me. So, it came a little bit natural to me to say all those things and to feel all those emotions.
Q: Did you feel that yourself at any point in your life?
Hough: Yeah, definitely. So, that was very real for me. Physically that was an emotional day and you’re exhausted. That was tough, but a lot of the in between stuff was interesting, just the short things.
Wormald: Yeah, you can’t really dive into it.
Hough: So, those were the difficult ones, I think.
Wormald: I’d say the big speech at the end was probably the most challenging because it’s like that daunting thing because you know it’s coming. You see it on the schedule and you’re like, ‘Oh, it’s two weeks away. It’s two days away.’ Craig decided to rewrite pretty much all of it the day of shooting. So, there was a lot of newness to it. Luckily we had two days and my front, most of the face time was the second day. So, that was challenging. But I was sick during the car washing scene and I felt like I was not acting good. I felt like I was acting instead of just being there and being present.
Q: What was the matter with you?
Wormald: Just a stuffy nose and a little run down. It’ll get to you, that kind of schedule. But I watched it and I was like, ‘Oh, okay. I’m cool with that.’
Q: Have either of you ever had an experience growing up where there was an authority figure trying to clamp down on you, something that you maybe rebelled against?
Wormald: I don’t know about an authority, but I used to get made fun of for dancing. It was this weird thing. In the town that I grew up in I felt like an outsider. That’s kind of a weird place to be at. Eventually things changed and now they’re not making fun of me, that’s for damn sure. Never an authority, I don’t think. One time some of my friends and I were filming a little dance thing that we created and it was in The Valley, on Chandler where the bus goes. A cop came. They didn’t pull us over because we weren’t in cars, but they came and told us to stop. They said, ‘You can’t dance here.’ I said, ‘What is this? “Footloose”?’ That was like five years ago. So, they tried.
Q: And Julianne, you grew up in a pro dance, creative and friendly environment, right?
Hough: Yeah, definitely. I’m just trying to think. I guess this doesn’t really relate, but sort of. When I wanted to move back from London I was fifteen and my whole life was dancing there. I would’ve continued down that path and been this kind of dancer and all that stuff, but I really wanted to act and sing. So, I moved back. The people that were there were like, ‘You’re crazy. Don’t move back. You’re going to amount to nothing and work at Whataburger,’ and all this stuff. So, I fought for what I believed in and I moved. I really believed in myself to do it.
Q: Considering how important dance has been in your professional lives, is it something that you do for fun, as a hobby, or is it just work?
Hough: No, no. It’s always fun.
Wormald: It’s more of a hobby than work. When you’re dancing for a living it doesn’t feel like work. I mean, sixteen hour days tend to feel like work, but not the actual performance part of it.
Q: So, it really is a way to blow off steam?
Hough: Yeah, absolutely.
Wormald: Yeah, it is.
Hough: It’s like taking a class or working out. Some people that don’t dance work out to get the endorphins. Dancing is like that times ten.
Q: Julianne, the notes said that you had to fight for the role. What do they mean?
Wormald: She had to beat up Hilary Duff.
Hough: No. I was attached to the movie. I got the movie when it was going to be the Kenny Ortega version, and then when that all fell apart, I read Craig Brewer’s version and I thought, ‘Oh, wow. This is what this movie should be.’ He had the option of casting whoever he wanted. I think that he was kind of hoping that he could do that. I went and talked to him and convinced him and fought for it. I did a whole scene for him and I basically cried my way into the role. He hired me then, on the spot.
Q: And since this you’ve done ‘Rock of Ages’ where you get to sing. How was that experience, also a very well known play?
Hough: Yes. It’s great. We had so much fun. We kept everything that you loved from the play and then took the things that were a little like, ‘Whoa. How is that going to translate on the big screen?’ We took that out and put some cool other things in there, too. So, it’s really fun and really crazy. I haven’t seen anything back yet because they’re still in the very early stages.
Q: And you worked with Tom Cruise on that?
Q: Can you talk about that because I know he’s been working on that for a while, trying to get it made?
Hough: He’s been wanting to do a musical for years and years and years. Didn’t he want to do ‘Footloose’ or something?
Wormald: He was attached to ‘Footloose’ in ’84, not this version. Schedule conflicts took him out.
Hough: ‘Risky Business’ hadn’t even come out yet, but he had finished shooting it. He was about to shoot his next movie or something like that, but anyway, most of my scenes are with Tom and Mary J. Blige and with Diego Boneta. Tom’s incredible. He really is. He’s so committed to everything he does and I saw him as a rock star.
Q: Have you started shooting ‘Lamb of God,’ Diablo Cody’s movie?
Hough: I start shooting that at the beginning of the year.
Q: Have you met Russell Brand?
Hough: Yeah. Russell is actually in ‘Rock of Ages.’ We had scenes together, but never actually spoke to each other in the scenes, and so it’s actually going to be a whole fresh, new thing.
Q: And you have an album coming out?
Hough: Maybe. I don’t know. I mean, it’s done. It’s been a while since it’s been done, and so I’m like, ‘Well, I kind of want to rewrite some new things.’
Q: So, maybe next year?
Hough: Maybe, yeah. We’re easy. I would rather just release it online and let fans hear the music that I already have, that I can’t publish, but my label would get really mad.
Q: Are you going to tour with that ever?
Hough: Maybe, yeah. We’re just kind of taking it a day at a time.
Q: Have either you met or heard from Kevin Bacon or anyone?
Hough: Not yet. Oh, wait. Yes, I have. Remember when I said I met Kyra Sedgwick at the Golden Globes? Well, Kevin was right there and I said hi.
Q: Did he know?
Hough: Yeah. I said, ‘Hey, we’re doing “Footloose.” We just finished it,’ and then I got really nervous. But both of them were there.
Wormald: That’s cool.
Q: And what’s next for you?
Wormald: I just got attached to a film called ‘Someone in the Dark’ which is a really cool thriller. It’s sexy and totally different than Ren MacCormack. No dancing. So, I’m excited about that.
Q: Who’s directing that?
Wormald: Carlos Brooks is directing. He’s done a few cool independent films and they’re finding the lead girl as we speak. So, as soon as I know, I’ll tell you.
Q: What have you guys found that you get from acting that you don’t get from dancing?
Hough: Free therapy.
Wormald: Free therapy, yeah. It’s kind of unexplainable. There are moments where you just feel it click in like it’s working and you see the director be so happy with the take that you just did, or not happy, and then you have to find it and make it work. You learn a lot being on set every damn day for three months. Now that instilled a confidence in both of us that we can handle a film and continue to keep doing them.
Hough: The cool thing about doing films and being different characters is that it’s new everyday and new every project. So, you’re always learning something different and you get to do research. It’s a different kind of fulfillment, I think.
“Footloose” opens in theaters on October 14th.