A remake of the 1984 film, Footloose, starring Kenny Wormald and Julianne Hough opens in theatres today. To celebrate the film’s release, director Craig Brewer sat down to talk with us about his involvement with the film, dealing with a loss of a parent, what he’d like audiences to take away from the movie and more.
Check it out below!
Question: How did you get attached to Footloose?
Craig Brewer: My agent had called me and said “What do you think about doing Footloose?” and I said “No, you can’t do Footloose. It’s a classic.” Then I got a call. I was actually heading down to this a bachelor party in New Orleans, hit speakerphone and heard “Paramount Pictures calling. President Adam Goodman’s on the phone. Please hold. And I was like Uh oh.”
Adam goes “Why do you keep passing on Footloose? I refuse to accept your pass.” I said “Why do you want to do it? What’s the reason?” He said “I could kill this movie right now. I don’t have to do it, but I truly think that we need this for teenagers right now. There hasn’t been this kind of a movie for teenagers. Everybody thinks they know what to give them. They want gross comedies or action movies or video games. I think they need a Footloose. Don’t you think?” The more I started thinking about that, the more I started to agree with him. There is something unique about Footloose that obviously made millions of people fall in love with it the first time.
Question: Your parents really supported you in pursuing your acting and directing passions. In light of so many programs disappearing in schools, could you tell me what the impact was on your life in having the arts and how it’s shaped your outlook on life?
Craig Brewer: I’m so glad you asked that. It’s such a concern of mine. I always think that of theater departments in high schools or junior highs as the place where not only the popular, beautiful people fall into and fall in love with, but also where us misfits fall into. I knew so many guys who worked behind the scenes building sets, hanging lights, painting scenery. They weren’t popular. They were oddballs of the school, but they found a home and a family in the theater. That’s what’s really incredible about the arts in schools. It prepares you for working with other people.
My son was having some attention problems in first grade. The first thing my wife and I did was take him out of the private school we had him in and we put him in a public school and he started to thrive. The second thing we did was put him in children’s theater. I was in children’s theater and we did the same for him. He just took off with it. It filled him with a sense of accomplishment. It gave him confidence. it prepared you for inflexible deadlines. You know, there’s opening night. You can’t postpone opening night.
Whatever you bring to opening night, that’s it. For me, especially with what I do, when I show up on a Monday to film, that is my read-through, my rehearsal, my tech rehearsal, my dress rehearsal, my opening night and my closing night, all within an hour or two. We prepare for that moment when we say action and that’s it until we say cut. That’s the best you’re going to give. There’s not a postponement of that idea and theater gave that to me. Even more important than that, and I’ve seen it so many times with so many people involved in theater, to have your parents behind you is a gift that is incalculable. I’m so grateful that my mother would drive me to theater every day.
That’s every day Monday through Friday making sure that I went to my rehearsals, made sure that I had everything for my opening nights and to be there in the audience every night supporting me and cheering me on. I worry that that’s going to go away and i worry that people think “Aw, that’s a play. It’s not like band. It’s not like football.” I gotta be honest, a lot of people started that way and they’re pretty incredible people and we may be losing something that we’re not aware of.
Question: One of the things Ren faces is the loss of his mom. How did that affect you personally?
Craig Brewer: I feel that a parent’s death is in an odd way, the last gift they give us. It’s strange to say, but I felt that when my dad died, he died at forty-nine, very unexpectedly that you were suddenly searching for all the wisdom they gave you. I tell people that it’s like eating a bag of cookies and you’re assuming there’s one more cookie in there, but it’s not. And you go searching around in your teeth for that last cookie taste. When my dad died, that’s how it was. I was like “What did he say to me? I should’ve listened more.” There’s this special thing that happens that you really do become a grownup and you start to take up the charge.
Question: When you lose a parent, you’re part of the weirdest fraternity that you’d ever join.
Craig Brewer: Yeah, you meet other people and they’ve lost a parent and you’re part of a crew that understands each other. That was important for me to put into the movie. In the original movie, Ren had his mother come with him to Beaumont. In this one, I wanted him to be a little bit closer to me. I wanted him to have lost a parent. I wanted him to feel truly on his own and to have gone through that trauma.
Question: What would you like people to take away from this film? People automatically think dancing, but it deals with a lot of heavy stuff from losing a parent to domestic abuse.
Craig Brewer: I get that, because there’s been a lot of music videos over the years and VH1’s “Remember the ’80s” specials and I think people forgot some of those issues are in the original Footloose, but I want people to remember that Footloose is about extreme sides coming together in the center after listening to each other. We’ve got parents and children. We’ve got the law and faith. There’s the North and South, red state and blue state. Everybody these days, especially with the rhetoric of our time just start shouting. Everybody gets online and starts complaining. I think we’ve got to calm down a little bit. We’ve got to realize that deep down we’re all family in our own way and we need to connect with each other.
We need to be a little more respectful, because once you start going down this road of being disrespectful, it’s hard to pull back from that. Just like Ariel, she had a trauma in her life and she starting acting against her own character. She started being very self-destructive and I think that America can go down that road and not know it sometimes. I just want people to see Footloose and for teens to see it with their parents just like my parents saw it with me. The only difference is f their parents saw the original Footloose then it’s going to be a little bit more special for them.
That concludes our interview with Craig but we’d like to thank him very much for talking with us. Be sure to check out Footloose, now in theatres!