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Footloose Stars Dance Their Hearts Out!

Oct 12, 2011

By: Lynn Barker

Kidzworld talks to Julianne Hough and Kenny Wormald about music to cruise by, dancing crewmembers and fighting for their roles.

We’re back in the hills of Beverly interviewing the “couple” of the moment, multi-talented Julianne Hough and Kenny Wormald who take over the lead roles of Ariel and Ren in Footloose, the high energy re-make of the iconic ‘80’s teen-driven dance film.

He’s in a dark gray Henley shirt and jeans. She’s in a form-fitting white wool sleeveless dress and wears a silver cuff inlaid with pearls. Julianne’s a blonde again after her stint as a light brunette in the movie.

Kidzworld: When you two found out you would be the leads in this film, did you meet to get to know each other?

  • Julianne: We actually work with the same acting coach.
  • Kenny: We spent a lot of time working with him and watching films and referencing certain looks or a kiss from a movie, together. Then, once we were (shooting) in Atlanta, we all hung out all the time.

Kidzworld: In the film, Ren gets in trouble for blaring music while cruising town. When you are in your car cruisin’ down a road, what song do you have blaring loudly from your speakers?

  • Kenny: By the way, when I see cops, I turn it down!
  • Julianne: I do the same thing.

Kidzworld: Okay but if the police aren’t there?

  • Kenny: I’m blaring the Jay-Z/Kanye album “Watch the Throne”. Top to bottom, it’s great.
  • Julianne: Adele’s new album. It’s awesome.
  • Kenny: Yeah. She’s in my i-pod as well.

Kidzworld: How are each of you like your characters Ren and Ariel and how are you very different?

  • Kenny: I’ve always fought for what I believe in and I’d always get made fun of for dancing and I’d argue back or fight the kids or do whatever I had to do to shut them up. I have that in me. I’m from Boston so I’m kind of a hard-headed opinionist. Is that a word?  I’m a good arguer as well. But, as far as not relating to Ren, thank God I have my mom and I’ve never had to move away and be feeling like such an outsider. I’ve luckily never had to deal with that.
  • Julianne: I relate to Ariel a lot; the conversation she has with her dad (Dennis Quaid) at the end of the movie where she says she doesn’t want him to be disappointed in her anymore, I remember having that conversation with my dad and I relate a lot to how she wanted attention. I grew up in a very heavily-religious community.  There were five kids running around and I was the baby. You have to do something to get attention.
  • I definitely acted out. I thought it was bad at the time but I look back and wow, I was really good.  But unlike her, I’m pretty worldly. I lived in London on my own for five years when I was ten so I’m not so small town.

Kidzworld: What was your favorite dance scene to work on in the film?

  • Kenny: Dancewise, all of them. You can’t pick one because they’re all so different. The Angry Dance (where Kenny’s character Ren blows off steam) was insane. Shooting that was a blast but I’ve been on sets for years as a dancer and I knew a ton of the dancers that got hired because they were from L.A. so being on set with my friends, essentially, it’s not work.
  • Julianne: My mom and my three sisters were in the Country line dance and you can see them in the movie so it was really fun to be able to share that with them.

Kidzworld: What were the differences in your training for shows like “Dancing with the Stars” and this?

  • Julianne: Well on the show it’s like seven days a week, eight to twelve hours a day and that’s all we’re focused on whereas on the movie we have dance rehearsals and that’s grueling but then we’re focusing on the acting whether it’s a comedic or dramatic part and there’s a whole other level to it. And, once we actually do shoot the dance scene, it takes all day twelve or more hours a day and, live (in the movie), it’s a minute and a half and it’s done.

Kidzworld: Is it a special boost of esteem when the director hand-picks you to be in his movie?

  • Kenny: Yeah, what helped me in that sense is when he called me and said “You booked this film because of your acting and not because of your dancing”. And I was like “Are you sure about that? Thank you!”  That instilled a ton of confidence in me. It’s that moment when you’re ready to go.
  • Julianne: Same thing with me. I had to audition for (director) Craig (Brewer) again because I was attached earlier. He had the option of re-casting and he kind of wanted to because he didn’t really know who I was. I was “some dancer chick”.
  • When I went in I was like “I don’t care. I want you to see what I can do.” So I read for him and he hired me on the spot. We read the script together and picked a few points out and I read with some random people I hadn’t seen before and haven’t seen since. He said “All right. I wanna do this with you.”

Kidzworld: Had both of you seen the original 1984 Footloose and how did you react to it? [Note: you can rent the original film on DVD if you haven’t seen it]

  • Kenny: Oh yeah, tons. I was a huge fan of the original. Growing up dancers, you’re crazy if you don’t love it. The Angry Dance was my favorite scene.
  • Julianne: We loved it. The Angry Dance, yeah.

Kidzworld: Kenny, you shot your version of the Angry Dance on three of the last days of the shoot?

  • Kenny: Yeah, just in case I died, the film would already be in the can (Julianne laughs).  

Kidzworld: What was super different about your dance from Kevin Bacon’s in the original?

  • Kenny: Well, not only the song but, in the original, it’s perfect. He doesn’t mess up. He doesn’t fall. In mine, the director really wanted me to do that. It’s more of a struggle. Guys can relate to that falling down, getting back up, wipe yourself off type of mentality and I love that about it. That, with the song choice, I think made it cool and similar enough to the original, with certain kicks and moves but having that difference was great.

Kidzworld: There are a lot of the same costumes and hairstyles and music in this from the original. How do you feel about that?

  • Kenny: I think when people see it who know the original they go “awwwww” it’s those moments. Those were the times when we were like “Oh my God, we’re making Footloose”. It felt like we were making our own movie and not mimicking anyone but when I jump in the VW bug and I put on that red jacket and she puts on the red boots, those moments, you can’t not have them.

Kidzworld: But the outfits are cool today.

  • Kenny: Yeah. It’s cool. It also represents just do whatever you want to do. My little brother is like that. He’ll wear a cool tie to school. When I was in high school, it was Abercrombie only. If you weren’t wearing Abercrombie, you’re weren’t cool and got made fun of. My little brother is wearing all this weird cool stuff. He’s such an individual and I think that’s what Ren can represent. Do what you want to do and fight for what you believe in.

Kidzworld: The cute little scene where Ren picks Ariel up and puts her into his car through the window because the door doesn’t work was great. Julianne, did Kenny here ever drop you?

  • Julianne: No. Not at all.
  • Kenny: I’ve been lifting girls for years. I’m a dancer. That’s a rule. Don’t drop ‘um! (laughter).
  • Julianne: What was funny though is that it was always more smooth in the beginning when it was a wide shot. Then, once, it was a tight shot, we were like “What is wrong? Why do we keep bumping into stuff?”
  • Kenny: The first time was definitely the smoothest but they edited it nicely.
  • Julianne: That was definitely the moment when the crew went “Ahhhhh” because of the prom outfits. Everything was so emotional and then we did that.

Kidzworld: Were there lots of Footloose fans in the crew?

  • Kenny: That was part of the thing. If you weren’t a fan you couldn’t work on this movie. That’s a joke but people loved it top to bottom. (Director) Craig (Brewer) is the biggest fan of Footloose on the planet so having him at the top, the rest trickled down.  Like for example, in the final big dance scene the crew guy who was throwing confetti into the fan was boogieing! He’s off set and he’s like 50 and he’s just tearing it up.
  • Julianne: Like a construction dude with dirty fingernails. He’s throwing confetti and totally grooving to it.

Kidzworld: So funny! Julianne, you’ve won awards for your choreography so was it a little hard for you to step back and let (famous choreographer) Jamal Sims do that?

  • Julianne: I loved it. If I could learn the rest of my life I would. I love to be able to learn new things. Plus this was not my field of expertise (she’s more Latin and Ballroom) and he definitely gave me a structure but I’ve got to put my own flair to it too.

Kidzworld: Are you both going to concentrate on acting now rather than dance?

  • Julianne: I don’t we’ll ever get rid of our dancing but I think we’re on a track that we want to stay on.
  • Kenny: Same. I want to be around for a long time. I’ll never stop dancing. If the right dance project comes around again as far as a movie, I would do it but I’ve gotten offers on some dance projects and turned them down because I want to be picky and not just be the “dance kid”.

Kidzworld: The two scenes in the church; one where Ren confronts Ariel’s dad (played by Dennis Quaid) and the one where Ariel confronts her parents were intense. Did you feel a lot of pressure shooting those?

  • Kenny: Yeah, I think both of our “church” scenes were intense but I made it a point to not watch any Dennis Quaid films over the summer before this. I didn’t want to be intimidated. It was my first go at this and he’s a super pro. But, as soon as we met him we were comfortable. He was great to work with very helpful even off camera. He was treating it like it was his first film and we were so grateful for that.

Kidzworld: Do either of you have a star or director that you are dying to work with?

  • Kenny: A ton but I want to work with the Boston guys; like Matt (Damon) or Ben (Affleck) or Mark (Wahlberg). That’s where I’m from and I grew up idolizing them and I feel like “If they did it, I can do it” and now I’m getting closer so, hopefully, one day.
  • Julianne: Yeah. I’m actually working with Diablo Cody (in the film Lamb of God) so I’m excited to be working with her and I would kill to work with Craig again. He’s amazing.