The rest of the 'Hairspray' cast fields questions - well, 1 each
Jul. 20, 2007 12:00 AM
BEVERLY HILLS - Nikki Blonsky is not a household name unless you are standing in the "Hairspray" star's Great Neck, N.Y. home. Despite her near anonymity, producers of the new feature film musical have banked on the actress as the star of their feature film.
The producers have hedged their bets. Blonsky is surrounded by top Hollywood veteran actors - John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken - as well as hot newcomers Amanda Bynes and Zac Efron.
That supporting cast has been pressed into extra duty. Blonsky, who is scheduled to meet with the press, has become ill. Because the supporting cast has so much to say, there is only room enough for one question with each actor.
Here's what they had to say.
John Travolta, who plays Edna Turnblad, on seeing himself as a woman:
"I had seen it on a screen test, which I was very excited about, because when I came out I didn't recognize me at all. I said I want a Delta Burke gone-to-flesh, her body's like Elizabeth Taylor gone-to-flesh, meaning I wanted the obvious to be appealing, because film is different than stage. You can dress a guy on stage and you can do that joke where they're like a refrigerator. But I don't think that works as well at this level. I think you had to be watchable."
Michelle Pfeiffer on what motivates her to take a role:
"Sometimes I will read something and halfway through it my heart just starts going (makes a patting motion on her chest) and I am on the phone. I don't care how badly this ends, I know I want to do the first half of the script.' Sometimes it takes a little bit longer. Mostly that's the case. Mostly I do take a little time, I read it a couple of times.
"I did not know what to do with Velma and it scared me on the page. I just thought she was just so awful all the time and that's all she is. But (director) Adam (Shankman), hearing his vision and hearing how he wanted to modulate it and where he wanted to go, yes, she's evil. She's bad. She's bad to the bone. And she has to be. And that's my job. But we want to find the humanity there."
Christopher Walken on his diverse career that has included several musicals:
"I was never very ambitious. And I still am not. It's astonishing to me how well I've done. I became an actor by accident. I suppose I figured since I was in musical comedy from the time I was a teenager, I suppose I figured that I'd always be in that world to some extent. There were dancers that I knew who became choreographers and so forth. But in fact, here we are and that's in fact exactly what happened. I'm still in musicals."
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Brittany Snow, former star of the NBC drama "American Dreams," explains how "Hairspray" is set in the same time period but is different:
"When I was on American Dreams,' I watched a lot of old American Bandstand' footage to get myself in that mindset. Hairspray' was a little bit of American Bandstand' and the 60s dances, but it was more choreographed and actually stylized dancing. It's kind of the 60s, but amplified. It's larger than life. So, it wasn't the same as American Dreams,' which was more downplayed. It's very realistic. It's just completely different."
Zac Efron ("High School Musical") on starring in so many musicals:
"A lot of people ask me if I'm worried about being pigeonholed in musicals. It started with High School Musical.' Are you worried about being pigeonholed in teen things?' I dunno. I don't like to worry about being pigeonholed, because if I'm worried about that, how can I be giving 110 percent in everything I'm doing? I'm just lucky to be here. So, I'm just going to keep going wherever the road takes me."
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Queen Latifah on the inspiration for her performance as Motormouth Maybelle:
"I tried to use some of the rap rhythm that I have in the repertoire. This character usually speaks in rhymes. And although that was changed for the film, we still wanted to keep a little bit of that rhythm. But a lot of her is based on my mom, who was a high school teacher and was one of those teachers that was really cool with the kids."
Amanda Bynes ("She's the Man") talks about how different the role of Penny Pingleton is than anything she has done:
"I talked to (director) Adam (Shankman) about the fact that it was the most pulled-back I've ever been in a movie because I've been a man in one and I've done Nickelodeon where I've been many characters; very goofy. So, for this movie, I had to sort of pull back and be kind of quiet and sort of be the observer, which was actually kind of fun for me and different. This was the type of movie I want to be in, which is, a movie with the heavy hitters and the veterans who I hope to, one day, be like."