Footloose stars Kenny Wormald and Julianne Hough have keen chemistry on screen in the remake of the classic that made a star out of Kevin Bacon. The two are equally as comfortable with each other in person for their Movie Fanatic interview.
Wormald dishes about his lack of apprehension stepping into Bacon’s dancing shoes in Footloose while Hough adds her thoughts as the former Dancing with the Stars champ, best-selling singer and all around celebrity, makes her jump to the big screen.
Hough had to fight to get the part, more than once, as it made its way through Hollywood. Meanwhile, Wormald admitted that he found comfort in his character of Ren and could identify with his character’s feelings as an outcast when he gets to the tiny small town from his native Boston. Growing up as a dancer, he always felt slightly out of place, in his native Boston, as he chose a life of dance over playing sports and the like.
Movie Fanatic: Both of you are tackling your first big roles on screen. They are also huge roles in that the original Footloose made Kevin Bacon a star and the film became a cultural icon. Was that any kind of pressure?
Kenny 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 (director) was incredible. 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.
Julianne Hough: The pressure was kind of on Kenny and the studio and the producers. Luckily the producers were from the original and so that was great, and we got to really make it our own and do the characters how we perceived them, especially for modern day times.
Movie Fanatic: Growing up, were there any authority figures imposing things on you in any way as portrayed in Footloose?
Kenny 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?" [Laughs] That was like five years ago. So, they tried.
Julianne Hough: Yeah, definitely. I'm just trying to think. When I wanted to move back from London [where she grew up] I was 15 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 to the U.S. 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.
Movie Fanatic: 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?
Julianne Hough: No, no. It's always fun.
Kenny Wormald: It's more of a hobby than work. When you're dancing for a living it doesn't feel like work. I mean, 16-hour days tend to feel like work, but not the actual performance part of it.
Movie Fanatic: So, it really is a way to blow off steam?
Julianne Hough: Yeah, absolutely.
Kenny Wormald: Yeah, it is.
Julianne Hough: Taking a class or working out -- some people that don't dance work out to get the endorphins. Dancing is like that times ten.
Movie Fanatic: Julianne, you were originally offered the role in Footloose when it was in Kenny Ortega’s hands. How did you have to fight for the role after he left the project?
Kenny Wormald: She had to beat up Hilary Duff [laughs].
Julianne Hough: No. [Smiling] 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.
Movie Fanatic: What scene was the most challenging to film?
Julianne Hough: The most emotional was definitely the one in the church with Dennis [Quaid] and Andie MacDowell, 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. That was very real for me. Physically, that was an emotional day and you're exhausted. So, that was tough. But a lot of the in between stuff was interesting, just the short things.
Kenny 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. 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.
Movie Fanatic: Being able to dance in your first big picture had to be a thrill…
Kenny 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.
Movie Fanatic: What did you find you get from acting that you don’t get from dancing?
Julianne Hough: Free therapy.
Kenny Wormald: Free therapy, yeah [laughs]. 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.
Julianne Hough: The cool thing about doing films and being different characters is that it's new every day and new every project. So, you're always learning something different and you get to do research. It's a different kind of fulfillment.