OK, let's get into 'Footloose.' Are you ready to talk about 'Footloose'?
Let's talk about 'Footloose'! I've got a couple of more days where I can talk about 'Footloose' -- then I'm going to move on.
Are you tired of talking about 'Footloose'?
I'm not. Well, let me put it to you this way: I knew when I took the job that I was going to have a lot of explaining to do. Everybody is like, "What was the biggest challenge of the movie?" I knew regardless of the movie I made that I was going to have to deal with a lot of skepticism and a lot of hate and a lot of curiosity. But I love the movie.
I think you and I are both in that age range in which 'Footloose' is really important to us. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed your version.
I think the word that I'm hearing the most, and that I love hearing, is "surprise." I'm surprised by how many people have not seen 'Footloose.' I can sometimes tell when people may have not seen it. I can even tell when reviewers haven't seen the original because they're bringing up things from the original as if it's some creation of mine.
I promise you, that won't happen today.
I was expecting to hear the new version of the song 'Footloose, but you went with Kenny Loggins' version to open the movie. Why?
The great thing about that song is that it's kind of like "Billie Jean" -- you hear that first drum beat and you know the baseline is coming around the corner. The same is true with 'Footloose.' And audiences, almost to a Pavlovian extent, just immediately start snapping their fingers and clapping and I'm seeing the heads bob. I wanted to take them to a place of comfort and excitement because I'm cocking a right hook. I'm ready to hit them in the face with something that was never seen in the original.
Speaking of that right hook -- the car crash – why show that? It's pretty shocking.
That's the most tragic thing about young death, especially when it comes out of doing something foolish. When I was in high school, we had this thing -- we called it 'The Dukes of Hazzard.' This speed bump in the middle of the road. And every day going to lunch we would hit this speed bump fast and you can get a little bit of air. Well, two high schoolers from my school did "the Dukes" and went spinning off into a pole and were both killed. I remember that being one of the first times that I could see my teenage friends and myself go, "Oh, man, we could die."
Your Ren listens to Quiet Riot just like 1984's Ren. Do high school students today still listen to Quiet Riot?
You know, I don't know.
Does anyone know who Quiet Riot is other than us?
You know, it's interesting because that's the one thing that I remember kind of thinking early on -- that I wanted to do that whole building of the car to Quiet Riot. Because, for me, the thing I like most about this generation is their access to music and how quickly it comes to them. I felt like that was the place that I could give a nod to the original, because I loved the song 'Bang Your Head' and I wanted people who saw the original to go, "Oh, yeah, 'Bang Your Head,' that's right. That was what he was listening to."
Just like in the original, there's the scene where Ren, Ariel, Willard and Rusty go to a bar. I feel, back then, there were these weird counties where drinking was allows at 18 -- there was an episode of 'Family Ties' about this. How is this explained today? Fake IDs?
It's interesting you bring that up specifically because I remember early on my producer saying, "Look, we're trying to do a lot in this movie. And like 'Footloose' did back in 1984, we need the music to help us out." So the very issue that you're bringing up, I was thinking that in the original one, they're drinking beers -- and it may have been about the drinking age -- but I decided to not even bring any attention to it. I was like, "Maybe I can just sneak it through there." And then we got with Big and Rich and they came up with the song 'Fake ID.' And I was like, "Well... perfect." If I'm not going to address it and take up some valuable screen time, I was like, "Here's one way that it could at least help."
Which is kind of lore. I mean, I always had friends who were talking about getting a fake ID, but, man, I'd be so terrified. I really was a pussy in high school. So even when I was in junior high and saw 'Footloose,' it was so scandalous to me. I mean, Ariel was in the field and she pulling her pants back up and putting on her red boots. I knew what they were doing out there, but sex was just the furthest thing from my experience. To some extent, 'Footloose' was the first movie I ever saw that dealt with any of that. I had just learned what a virgin was. "Are you a virgin?" "Nah, man, I'm not a virgin. There's this girl in another county." It's like you lie and shit like that.
Which makes the "I'm not even virgin scene" shocking.
I can still hear the audible gasps around me in 1984 and it still happens with my version.
I had to watch that scene with my parents.
Sometimes I feel that 'Footloose' is the rite of passage. I've heard that so many time and I've heard that from grown ups now, "I brought my 12-year-old and there are a couple scenes in there I was getting nervous about." It's not the violence. And I ask "Is it the sex talk that bothered you?" They said, "Yeah, like when the guy said 'add another two inches to me,' I was hoping my daughter didn't know what that was about."
How tempted were you to use 'Never' by Moving Pictures during the warehouse seen?
[Laughs] It's so funny. I would say that when I was a kid and I had 'Footloose' on my Walkman, I wore that song out. I wore it out. I loved it. I couldn't really go there, though. It's such a specifically '80s tune and the bigness of the angry dance, which seemed almost flawless. It was like a music video. I look at it now and you're just so aware that you're not watching Kevin. And this is the most spoofed moment in film history, almost.
'Hot Rod' did it.
'Hot Rod,' 'American Dad,' 'Flight of the Conchords': There are a lot of spoofs of the Kevin Bacon angry dance and it's all set to the Moving Pictures' 'Never.' The first thing I did when pitching 'Footloose,' I played the song that we set the angry dance to. For me, that song is Jack White's most subversive song. It's so bluesy. And then it comes in with Meg's ugly sounding bottom drum that just makes it so perfect. And to be honest, it's what I really rock out to when I'm having a stressful day.
The other one is once Reverend Moore give his blessing for the dance Kenny Loggins' 'I'm Free' kicks in. I was kind of hoping that you would use that.
You know what it was? I get it from both ends. I really do. Some people are telling me that I needed to put more songs from the original and I get some people asking why I'm copying every song from the original. In the original movie -- and, by the way, you're talking to someone who loves the original movie -- that scene went on a little too long. And you could tell that probably what it was is that it's a really long intro. They wanted to cut to the motorcycles while it plays "I'm Free!" So they're probably like, "Let's just keep having these reaction shots."
I am glad that you changed the tractor scene. They are moving quite slowly at each other. And Ren gets trapped because of his shoelace?
Right. And I loved it back in the day, but those tractors... I remember asking, "How fast do these go?" "Like, twelve." I go, "Twelve what?" and they're like, "Miles per hour." I was like, "Damn." And that's when I knew we were doing the bus race, but I just wanted to get the tractor from one place to the other. No wonder Herb Ross shot the hell out of those scenes. And then you've got Bonnie Tyler's 'Holding Out For a Hero' on it and it's probably the most dramatic drum machine in '80s history. And they're cutting to shoes, they're cutting to a tire, they cut all over the place!
Oh, let me tell you something, since you're a fan of 'Footloose.' I got Dean Pitchford's original script. So I was going to take his original script, study it and then I'm going to study the film and then I'm going to write the things that I want to change in it. But, otherwise, I'm doing a revival. As a 'Footloose fan, I'm going through this script and I'm seeing that there's a lot that didn't make it into the movie. There's a whole plot about Vi and Reverend Shaw -- their marriage really wasn't in a good place. As a matter of fact, when they were coming back from the bar that we were talking about, they then drive past the mill and it's on fire. And they go to Chuck's dad who was a fireman, I don't know if you remember in the original movie when she was getting her pants on when she's with Chuck and gets burned by his joint, she says, 'You wouldn't know, you're daddy's a fireman." Remember that line?
I do. And it does seem like unnecessary exposition.
It doesn't make sense because they cut out the scene. They had to go to the nearby fire house and there's Chuck and his dad. And they say, "Look, the mill is on fire." "Well, that's over in the other county." And that's what triggered that whole line about, "If the Bomont fire trucks can't come here, then neither can the long arm of the law." And another was during the tractor race Ariel stands in between the two tractors that are going to come to each other -- she pulls her shirt off and waves it to start the race. And I was like, "OK, I'm putting this in my movie." And everybody is going to blame me, but it's Dean Pitchford and I'm doing something for the writer. So that shirt is from the original script.
See, that's interesting because it puts in perspective the scene at the end outside the mill with Shaw and Vi. That was supposed to be a reconciliation.
Back in the day, the studio was excited about making 'Footloose,' because it was a cheaper movie like 'Flashdance.' And yet, at the same time, they were worried about the young kids. They didn't know if this Kevin Bacon or Sarah Jessica Parker... how compelling they would be to audiences. So they beefed up the parents' side a lot. And that's why they have these great actors in John Lithgow and Dianne Wiest doing it.
For a town in which dancing is illegal, except for Willard, why do all of these kids seem to have professional dance experience?
I remember in 1984 thinking, damn! They finally had the dance and this nerdy kid is doing this awesome dance.
I wish you had put that guy in your movie.
I've always wanted to track that guy down. I actually heard that one of the dancers worked at Paramount publicity. I'll give you another little 'Footloose' fact since you're a fan of the movie. Do you have 'Footloose'?
I have it home.
Have you ever noticed that their hair styles change in the dance?
Wait, what? No.
Watch Willard again, Willard looks different. At one point I'm like, "Is that Chris Penn?" What it is is that Chris Penn has really, really long hair. And it's shellacked down to look like he had the buzz cut. And Kevin's hair is really long.
Like in 'Quicksilver'?
Like 'Quicksilver' long. What had happened, Herb Ross believed the movie should end after the fight. They go inside, pan up, show Reverend Moore and Vi dancing outside -- roll credits. Herb Ross did not believe you needed to see the dance. The testing on it just went up and up and up -- and then it got to the end and it's almost like people hated the movie.
I could see that.
Because they were robbed of that dance. So half a year later they went into a soundstage at Paramount and threw some balloons down on the floor, put some Christmas lights around the lens and they did all the rest of that dancing.
I did not know that.
One of the reasons I did this movie was to learn everything about 'Footloose.'
Did you consider having anyone from the original have a cameo? I guess it's pretty cheesy to do that.
I didn't. On Twitter I'm engaged with people saying "How dare they remake 'Footloose,' and I'm surprised how little they know about 'Footloose.' I've urged a lot of people to go back and watch it. And I'm surprised how many people will say, "You know, there are a lot more flaws than I thought." I think it's a good thing we didn't have anybody from the original movie. It would have been like one third of the audience may applaud and the rest of the 13-year-olds would be like, "What's up with mom?"
Or, "Why is the bad guy from 'X-Men: First Class' in this movie?"
Right! [Laughs] Exactly. Yeah. That makes me feel old just having you say that.
You know who was very important in your casting? Kim Dickens.
You know what she does? She's the link between Kenny Wormald and Kevin Bacon in Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. Kim is in 'Hollow Man.'
Kim was in 'Hollow Man'! I never thought about that. We did have a joke in which we had to make sure Kenny was within six degrees of Kevin Bacon before he played the role. He just snuck in, if he were one more degree we would have to call Zac Efron again.
So, you're doing Tarzan. That sounds challenging, actually. I kind of cringe when I think of 'Greystoke.'
A little. To be fair, I was nine and that is not an exciting movie when you're nine and you like the cartoon.
Well, I was a little older. But why I liked it is because in the older Tarzan movies, he's completely baked. Not in a stoned way, meaning everyone was talking about this wild man. The white ape that was in the jungle. But they never explained how he got there or the origin of how he became Tarzan. So when I saw 'Greystoke' it kind of blew me away. It's a movie that I really loved.
It's probably unfair that I said that because I haven't seen that movie in 20 years.
You're going to find that it has some flaws, but for someone like me who was really into Tarzan, I didn't know about the ape finding the baby. And I didn't know he was a lord back home or he was part of this wealthy family in London. And in high school I read 'Tarzan,' and 'Tarzan of the Apes' is a much better book than I thought it would be. It obviously has some racial issues because of the time of when they wrote it, but, at the same time, it's kind of witty -- with an interesting dance between the civilized world and the savage world. So when I do 'Tarzan,' I know that I have a lot of masters to serve. I've got people who grew up on the Disney version, I've got Edgar Rice Burroughs fanatics that already probably have their blades out, but there's really not that many of them to make too big of a difference at the box-office -- but I'm still very respectful to it.
I'm giving 'Greystoke' another chance. I have a bad habit of dismissing movie I didn't like as a little kid.
It's got Ian Holmes and Andie MacDowell...
Whose voice was dubbed...
By Glenn Close.
'Firefox' come to mind, too. I just wanted to see Clint Eastwood fly that cool jet. I should probably watch that, too.
'Firefox' is really dark. I remember seeing that as a kid, too.
It's surprisingly dark.
I still remember the moment where the plane is about to take off in Siberia and taking out these steam guns to clear out a runway. Remember that?
I do. That's when I started to enjoy the movie.
You had to think in Russian, remember?
I feel that after 'Tarzan' you should remake 'Firefox.'
Oh, be careful. It may be a summer hit! I'd first do 'Blue Thunder.' You know, that's my first rated-R movie.
The television show based on that wasn't very good.
Wait, did they?
A pre-'SNL' Dana Carvey was in it. Obviously Roy Scheider wasn't.
What was that thing, Jafo? Just another fucking operator? They guy was called Jafo and he didn't know why he was called Jafo.
So, yes, after 'Tarzan' you've got 'Blue Thunder' and 'Firefox.' Done deal. I'm reporting this as a big scoop.
[Laughs] Right. "We have Craig's next three films! 'Firefox' followed by 'Blue Thunder'!"
Gallery | Where Are They Now: The Cast of 'Footloose'
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