‘Footloose’ star Hough takes on angry dancing

Courtesy Photo

By Jessica Foreman

The opening day of the 2011 “Footloose” movie is finally upon us. The highly analyzed, applauded, assessed and anticipated remake of the 1984 release is Friday, Oct. 14, and it has both old and new fans across the nation in a frenzy

The remake of the classic ’80s movie about teen rebellion, racy dance and rock ’n’ roll started off on the wrong foot when “High School Musical” director Kenny Ortega dropped the project in 2009 closely followed by “High School Musical” heart-throb Zac Efron.

Efron was replaced with “Gossip Girl” star and Lubbock native Chace Crawford, but when Crawford followed suit and left the production, the opportunity to recreate the classic almost passed Hollywood by.

The film shifted back on track, however, with the hiring of writer-director Craig Brewer (“Hustle & Flow,” “Black Snake Moan”) and the instant dance chemistry between young performers Julianne Hough (“Burlesque”) and Kenny Wormald (“Clerks II”). Hough describes the changes that occurred once Brewer took on the project.

“So once Craig joined on and I read that script, I was like, whoa, this is – this is way different,” Hough said in a conference call with the Lariat. “This is way more like the original. And it basically is the original, with just minor tweaks, and I have to do this. This is actually going to be a movie that will show the acting side of me, rather than just the dancing and the singing.”

Hough, who beat out Miley Cyrus, Hayden Panettiere and Amanda Bynes for the role of Ariel, said Wormald and her were thrown together in an audition and told to dance “freestyle,” without choreography and without planning.

“So when I told him that I really wanted it, he basically had the choice to get his own cast, and I said, ‘No, let me read for you, let me fight for this,’ and I ended up basically fighting for my role. I auditioned twice for this movie, and I’m so glad I did. I’m so proud of this movie,” Hough said.

Fortunately, the instant connection of rhythms between the duo worked in their favor, and the “freestyle dance” from the auditioning stage escalated into several choreographed numbers based on the original “Footloose,” but with a Craig Brewer twist.

Brewer said that he had a lot in common with Jamal Sims (the choreographer on “Footloose”) and that as children of the ’80s the two had both loved movies of the era. Brewer described the need to make a plot capable of linking the various dance scenes in “Footloose” together.

Brewer said the original “Footloose” of 1984 wasn’t just linking incredible dance numbers together, and that’s not what his modern “Footloose” is. Because of that factor, the dance acts should look natural, not like they are being performed by professional dancers who have not only danced their whole lives, but also showcased their talent on television shows. Wormald was on MTV’s “Dancelife” and Hough is known for her work on “Dancing with the Stars.”

“I assure you, when you see the angry dance, it’s a Craig Brewer movie,” Brewer said about a spicy dance scene Hough performs in the flick.

“I think, you know, we already try to go in with a good attitude and you’re, like, high hopes, and even when you’re filming, you’re thinking you’re doing a great job, but you never know until you see audience members coming out of the theater and — or even watching the movie in general,” Hough said. “And I’ve got to tell you, I would not be so proud of this movie if I hadn’t seen those reactions, and everybody’s loving it. So, I mean, we’re really excited.”

While cast members and Brewer hold high expectations for the remake, skeptics, critics, and fans from all decades will decide the final verdict this Friday.