On Thursday (July 21), Riff Raff, Magenta, Dr. Frank-N-Furter and the rest of the “Rocky Horror Picture Show” gang invaded San Diego Comic-Con and from what we’ve seen, fans are in for a real treat.
Joined by creator Lou Adler and director Kenny Ortega, Victoria Justice, Ryan McCartan, Christina Milan and Reeve Carney took the stage for a fun conversation of all things “Rocky Horror.” But before the team behind the highly anticipated TV remake took the stage, the audience was treated to a peek at the first 20 minutes of the upcoming two-hour musical event.
There may have been some hesitation going into this as many die-hard fans agree that a classic such as this shouldn’t be tampered with. However, after watching a number of iconic scenes come to life in new and exciting ways, we’re no longer on the fence. Not only was Carney born to play Riff Raff, Laverne Cox as Dr. Frank-N-Furter is a vision to behold.
Adler says of the remake, “We never lost the fact that fans have carried this film for 40 years and we paid tribute to them every way we could.” And if you think that comment isn’t legit, there are actual segments in the new movie that feature a theater full of fans reacting to every scene. Kenny Ortega acknowledged that as a key factor in the film, “This is a movie we made for the fans … the fans are a character in the movie.”
But aside from paying fan service throughout, the real key here is the casting. Ortega walked the crowd through his thought process: “For me, it was being able to find a cast that had an appreciation and that would be able to sort of bring these characters to life with their own imagination, and not fill other people’s shoes.”
Having that sort of specific vision required a casting process that had the team see hundreds of people. “I’m always looking for creative partners when I’m casting,” Ortega explains. “I’m not just looking for an actor to come in and play a role. I’m looking for somebody who’s going to have fun and come in and raise the stakes and bring something to the party everyday. And every single one of these people did.”
But what about Dr. Frank-N-Furter? We mentioned Laverne Cox’s performance above and she does a fantastic job making the role her own. Everyone on the stage admitted that Cox was their choice from the very beginning.
“When we met with Laverne and then tested, we didn’t have a B Plan,” says Ortega. “We didn’t have a B Plan and we went to FOX and said, ‘This is what we believe in.’ She gives us reason to make this movie again. We believe in her, she’s excited about the project and she’s wanted to do this project ever since she was a young person. And so all of our dreams sort of came true in that moment with Laverne.”
Victoria Justice taking the role of Janet was also a shift in the work most fans know her for. She shared an audition tale with the crowd that had her crawling over a bunch of oiled up Rockys in one day. “It looks like the Nickelodeon chapter of my life is over,” she jokes.
Moving from “Penny Dreadful” to “Rocky Horror,” Reeve Carney talked about his penchant for dark roles, “My favorite novel when I was a child was Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I’ve always loved this genre in general and I think … I was just wanting to be a part of this for a number of reasons. It’s so different from the stuff I was able to do as Dorian Gray. Playing Riff Raff … you know, I like to be challenged and I felt like this was going to be a good challenge.”
“When I got the role, Kenny and I talked on the phone and he described the movie in such a beautiful way,” McCartan explains. “He said, ‘This is a movie about two young people who go to a castle on a dark and stormy night and something happens to them.’ I’ve never forgotten that. I like the sort of idea that, instead of a B horror movie format where people are shoved into a situation and they escape unscathed from a situation … I like that Brad and Janet are wondering what the things in this castle actually mean. I also really like that the film gets to what’s happening to them as early as it possible could.”
Let’s be clear, the movie does move along quickly. We get four musical numbers in the first 20 minutes of the film. That’s not a bad thing as this is made for TV. And yes, if you are wondering, Tim Curry makes an appearance as the Narrator and he does a smashing job. Both Adler and Ortega acknowledged that Curry viewed a finished cut of the movie a few days ago. His reaction … it was, “You betcha,” according to Adler. To be clear, the man loved it.
“Rocky Horror Picture Show” airs Thursday, Oct. 20 on FOX.