“Into the Woods” is a modern twist on the beloved Brothers Grimm fairy tales, intertwining the plots of a few choice stories and exploring the consequences of the characters’ wishes and quests. This humorous and heartfelt musical follows the classic tales of Cinderella (Anna Kendrick), Little Red Riding Hood (Lilla Crawford), Jack and the Beanstalk (Daniel Huttlestone), and Rapunzel (MacKenzie Mauzy)—all tied together by an original story involving a baker and his wife (James Corden & Emily Blunt), their wish to begin a family and their interaction with the witch (Meryl Streep) who has put a curse on them.”
I was invited by Disney to participate in a NYC press conference for the film. There were two sessions where the talent sat on a dais on stage and we, the press audience, were invited to ask questions.
The first group consisted of:
- James Corden (“The Baker”)
- Emily Blunt (“The Baker’s Wife”)
- Director Rob Marshall
- Screenwriter James Lapine
- Anna Kendrick (“Cinderella”)
- Chris Pine (“Cinderella’s Prince”)
These will all be my own pictures taken from my seat in the front row.
James Lapine spoke about weaving a new fairy tale into the existing ones: “I sort of hit on this idea of combining writing one original fairytale, The Baker and the Wife, and then weaving them together with existing fairytales, and so that’s how it all kind of went from there.” The Baker and his Wife are the constant in the movie, they do a great job of keeping the movie cohesive.
And then I loved the way Rob Marshall went on to say, “It’s so beautifully created and written because it moves in and out of dialogue so seamlessly, but it’s very delicate, creating a musical.” The movie marries the singing, the acting, the comedy and the dialogue in such a way that they do all flow seamlessly, the only trick is to not laugh for too long or you might miss the next scene as I did on a few occasions which is why I am excited to return to see this with my family!
At this point it is important to share that the actors on stage seemed to have developed a terrific friendship during the filming, if they hadn’t been friends before. It was pure delight listening to the actors and actresses banter about on stage, it was like another wonderful performance for us in the audience! I add this information because I have been to press conferences where this is not the case. This day, it was like we were bring treated to yet another wonderful performance!
Anna Kendrick spoke about her Cinderella character as being non traditional. She said it was risky, but starting with the idea that Cinderella really is a brave character, “because she has known nothing but neglect her entire life, and then when she’s presented with a different situation” she has a lot to think about. Going from squalor to marrying the Prince, or opening her eyes to his flaws and making a decision to go with the community, which is in turmoil. A modern way to view Cinderella, she looks at the situation from every angle, and realizing re the Prince, “This isn’t want I want. I want something real, and I don’t know what that is yet, but I’m willing to forego this safe situation to find out what that is, even though right now that’s a handful of survivors and I don’t know what will happen next.” No one saves this Cinderella, she is a modern version of the women we see around us today, she saves herself!
Anna Kendrick was absolutely adorable on the dais. She was taking everything seriously, but she was in a great mood and having fun with her fellow cast members. They all were, they were all jesting back and forth. This gives me the feeling that the movie set itself must have been a lot of fun in between takes. Again, what a great experience it was for us, the press in the audience, can you tell I was not expecting to have such a wonderful time at these interviews?
Chris Pine played the Prince. (OMG, Captain Kirk was sitting right in front of me!) “I had a lot of fun playing a guy with big hair and you know, a tan, and just loving himself. It was a joy.” This Prince was a shallow character, very much in love with himself. Chris portrayed this perfectly, and it was funny because it is not the Prince we grew up with who is thrilled to find his love. This Prince was thrilled, but not for very long!
Cinderella’s story is but one of four fairy tales interwoven around two new characters, the Baker and his Wife. They were the thread that the wove the four tales together.
James Corden, who played the Baker, shared that Meryl Streep took the lead at making him and the others feel comfortable.He said her attitude was, if an individual does well, the film does well. She seems like an an amazing person, not just an amazing actress. As the biggest “name” in the movie, it is nice to know that she wants to be a worker among workers, and not a diva: “she’s the reason actually, it’s the truth, she’s the thing that puts you at ease, because she leads from the front and she knows how you feel when she walks in the room, and she does everything she can to put you at ease and make you feel like we are all a company of actors who will get the best out of this experience if we support each other. And I think it shines through in the film that this is a company of people where no one is trying to steal the limelight or the movie from anyone else. It’s a group of actors, friends really, all going, “No, no, go and be brilliant. Go and be amazing.” And that really comes from Rob and it trickles down through Meryl right to the bottom, and just below that, you’ll find me.” Oh James, always self deprecating! James Corden is a very funny man, I strongly suggest you google him to find and watch his British shows! Additionally, it was wonderful to hear this inside scoop on Meryl Streep!
The Baker’s Wife is Emily Blunt. Yet another in the movie with a great sense of humor on screen and off. And she was extremely grateful to have been cast. Before she was cast, she had heard they were looking for actors who could sing, not singers per se, so she took a few lessons and auditioned. She said it was the best part she has ever been given, “And the day we sang with the 64 piece orchestra with Stephen Sondheim in the next room, it’s just one of those days you will never, ever forget. Ever.” I can still feel her emotion!
Director Rob Marhsall summed everything up ,”These people have real chops, these actors, and also understand the idea of an ensemble piece, that’s something that only comes with a company and that comes in theater. It’s rare to see that. I’ve been very lucky in my career to be able to work with amazing actors but this was very special, because it felt like a company.” Mr. Marshall gets a lot of credit for getting this diverse group of actors together for this film, once you see it you will wonder how anyone could have ever figured out that this combination of actors and actresses would make “Into The Woods” work on screen, and here is is, the casting is clearly brilliant.
INTO THE WOODS is rated PG and opens in theaters everywhere on December 25th!
Disclosure: I received a ticket to preview this movie and attended a press conference. All opinions are 1000% honest and my own.
• Into the Woods” premiered on Broadway on November 5, 1987, at the Martin Beck Theatre. The production, which ran for 764 performances, won Tony® Awards for Best Score, Best Book of a Musical and Best Actress in a Musical. Among other awards, the musical received five Drama Desk Awards, including Best Musical. “Into the Woods” has been produced around the world, including a 1988 U.S. tour, a 1990 West End production and Broadway and London revivals, in addition to a PBS television production and a 10-year-anniversary concert.
• The big-screen adaptation welcomes songs from the stage musical, including “Children Will Listen,” “Giants in the Sky,” “On the Steps of the Palace,” “No One Is Alone” and “Agony,” among others.
• The award-winning production team includes: Oscar® winner Dion Beebe (“Chicago,” “Memoirs of a
Geisha”) as director of photography; Oscar winner Dennis Gassner (“Bugsy,” “Quantum of Solace”) as production designer; and three-time Oscar winner Colleen Atwood (“Memoirs of a Geisha,” “Chicago,” “Alice In Wonderland”) as costume designer.