Recently, Ziah Colon, one of the stars of the upcoming Footloose remake, took some time to sit down and talk to us about her role in the film.
Colon plays Rusty Rodriguez, who was played by Sarah Jessica Parker in the original 1984 film. Though fairly new to the silver screen, Colon didn’t feel any intimidation or pressure of being as successful as Parker until after the filming was over. She does feel that people who haven’t seen the original version will enjoy the movie, and people who have seen and love the original will also enjoy the movie.
Check out what she had to say below.
We Got This Covered: How did you get involved in this movie?
Ziah Colon: I was an Atlanta actor and I got an audition for it. I had already seen Footloose a billion times before. So I kind of knew what I was walking into. I had just the usual audition process. They had auditioned in L.A. and New York and they just weren’t finding what they were looking for. I thought I was out of the game, because I didn’t hear from them for a while. Then two weeks later, they called me back in for a callback and I was like “I’m still in the game.”
At first, I thought I missed out on this really great project. But then that week, I was called in three times and two of those times were with the director, Craig Brewer. He and the casting director were two of my biggest cheerleaders and it was pretty amazing. By Saturday, Craig called me personally and said “I have some questions for you. One: How do you pronounce your name? Two: Would you like to play Rusty Rodriguez?” I could not believe it.
WGTC: Just out of curiosity, how do you pronounce your last name?
Ziah Colon: Cologne.
WGTC: So you were a fan of Footloose before being cast in the remake?
Ziah Colon: Yeah, I had an older sister and she definitely introduced me to everything ‘80s. Not only had I seen it all the way through, but they always played it on TV. It was one of those movies you get caught up watching. So I was very familiar with it.
WGTC: How did it feel to be in this movie that’s a remake of a movie you love so much?
Ziah Colon: It was insane, first off, for me to think that I was in this film. But it all happened so fast. The week that all the auditions happened, he called me Saturday and by Wednesday, we were in rehearsal. Rusty was the very last piece of the puzzle. Craig wanted an authentic southern girl and he wanted her to be Latin. They just weren’t finding it. It was just so last minute. They kind of just threw me in and I didn’t really have a chance to think. It was like “Ah! This is crazy! This is amazing!” and then we were at work. I didn’t really think of how big this was going to be. It wasn’t until afterward that we were like “Hey, no pressure, but this is SJP’s first big role in her career. What do you think she’s going to think?” and that’s when it really hit me.
WGTC: So you play the role that Sarah Jessica Parker played in the original movie?
Ziah Colon: Yes.
WGTC: How does it feel to be in a role originally done by her?
Ziah Colon: It’s amazing and surreal. It was a shock and it still is. But we’ll see how things go for me. I can only hope and wish to have the success that she had.
WGTC: Did you feel any intimidation or major pressure as you were doing the role?
Ziah Colon: Not while I was doing it. I’m so glad it kind of happened backward. It was afterward that I had the realization.
WGTC: Were you a dancer prior to taking on this role, or did you have to learn it while doing the movie?
Ziah Colon: I kind of had to learn it while doing it. I had never taken a dance class. During my audition, the casting director asked, “Hey, by the way, do you dance?” and I was like “Yes.” and I ran out the room like any actor would. [Laughter] Then I was like “Oh my gosh. Are they going to call for tryouts?” Thankfully, for me, they did not and I worked with a choreographer and it worked my butt off to make sure that I had it right. I was surrounded by professional dancers and they were amazing and graceful and just so, so, so great that I didn’t want to be the one to drop the ball. I worked really hard at it, but I am not a professional dancer. I just have rhythm by default.
WGTC: Do you plan to continue to dance after this as a hobby or something?
Ziah Colon: I would love to. I definitely don’t give myself credit after watching these amazing dancers do these unthinkable things with their bodies. I thought to myself, “I need to go to remedial dance class.” [Laughter] But I would love to go to a dance class and work on it and develop it, because I only had one choreographed dance in the movie and it was so much fun. I would like to continue it more for myself.
WGTC: So you have one choreograph dance in the movie. Do you have any other dances in the movie?
Ziah Colon: Yes, I have two other dances. Rusty is mainly just bopping to music, not necessarily the hardcore dance. And then I have one choreographed dance, which is a line dance.
WGTC: How similar to the 1984 version of Footloose is Craig Brewer’s version?
Ziah Colon: It’s very similar. We celebrate the original. We don’t want to run away from this ‘80s classic. We definitely celebrate it, but it does have its own identity. It is its own movie. It does have its differences. There are certain characters we get to see more of. Craig kept their essence and then we added natural tendencies to the characters, but he kind of fixed the essence and extended each character. You get to see the essence of these characters that you necessarily didn’t get to see in the original.
WGTC: Do you see a lot of similarities with you character and the way you acted it out and with the way that Sarah Jessica Parker acted it out in the ’84 version?
Ziah Colon: I think so, yes. We kept the essence of her and because I had seen the movie so many times, I wanted to keep the essence of Rusty. She is that kind of punky, smart girl who isn’t confident in her physically, but in who she is and her limits, maybe. She’s still young. She’s only about 17. Who knows what they want at that age? But I feel like Rusty is more aware of what she wants right now and I think that’s who Rusty is in both movies. We just get to see and feel a little bit more of her this time and we get to see that she’s a tough cookie. I don’t think we necessarily get to see that, but we don’t doubt that that’s the direction she’s going.
WGTC: I know a lot of people have been saying, “Why are they remaking Footloose?” What is your response to people who are crying foul?
Ziah Colon: I think it’s just a great movie and they’re going to be really happy with what we’ve done. I think with the new generation, some of them haven’t seen Footloose, some of them haven’t even heard of Footloose. To remake a movie isn’t so rare anymore. Movies are remade all the time. Movies that we don’t know are remakes are remakes. I don’t think that it’s just something that’s so rare and odd that we should freak out on it so much. They made a good movie and I hope people give it a chance. I hope the audience has as much fun watching it as we had making it. We were all fresh faces and we were all had a good time with each other. There was just a lot of chemistry on and off the set. We’re all still friends right now and I know you can see that through the movie. It’s also not just any other dance movie. The story is very present and I think that’s very important because people don’t want it to look like every other dance movie since it is such an iconic film from the ‘80s.
WGTC: Yeah, there are some people I know who know it’s a remake. And then there are some people I know who have never even seen Footloose or knew who Kevin Bacon was when I asked them.
Ziah Colon: Yeah, that’s the thing. The people who are freaking out are people that it was so important to their childhood or them as a teenager. It was that kind of movie. It was an iconic movie at the time, but it’s been 27 years. I think it’s OK. It’s not like it was shot five years ago. I think the new generation’s going to love it and I think the people who loved the first one are going to love it. It’s such a fun movie. And for me, it was always really hard for me to watch myself. I was like “Oh, I don’t know if I want to watch it. I don’t know if I want to watch myself.” And what happened was they surprised the cast with a screening and I loved it. It wasn’t hard to watch and I’ve seen it four times. I enjoyed it and I’m proud of it. A lot of love went into it and I think you can see that through the movie.
WGTC: Do you have any more roles after Footloose?
Ziah Colon: Well right now, I’m focusing on the press for Footloose. I do have a couple things in hand that I’m thinking about. I’d really love to go into the independent path, but we’ll see what happens. The sky’s the limit right now.
This concludes our interview, but we would like to thank Ziah for taking the time to speak with us. Footloose opens in theaters nationwide on October 14th.