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Photography by Alex Martinez

Turnin’ it Loose

by Emily L. Foley | Jezebel magazine | October 12, 2011

When you take two professional dancers with little to no acting experience and cast them as the leads in a remake of a classic 1984 film, disaster is almost guaranteed. However, director and writer Craig Brewer achieved the impossible with his rendition of Footloose, premiering in theaters this month. The movie is a foot-tapping, laugh-out-loud good time. Filmed in and around Atlanta, Footloose stars newcomer Kenny Wormald, reprising the role made famous by Kevin Bacon, and Julianne Hough, who is best known for being one of the professionals on Dancing with the Stars and for dating Ryan Seacrest (who hails from Atlanta). Despite their thin résumés, the pair’s performances prove they can hold their own in Hollywood. JEZ met up with the two at the W Atlanta – Midtown for a little behind-the-scenes chit chat.

What did you do during your free time while you were filming in Atlanta?
Julianne Hough: It was all about Virginia-Highland for me. I lived on Spring and 10th in the Aqua building, which was awesome. So I used to drive up to the Highlands all the time. I took my whole family to Murphy’s while they were in town.

Kenny Wormald: Me and Miles [Teller], who plays Willard [in the film], stayed in Atlantic Station, so we just hung out there and went to movies, to a Braves game, to a NASCAR race and floated down the Chattahoochee River. We were here for three months, so we definitely did stuff on the weekends when we had free time!

Did the NASCAR experience help you get into the whole small, Southern town theme of the movie?
KW: Yes! And you know, this guy had a shirt on that said, ‘The only dancing we do is three-wide at 200 miles an hour,’ so I took a picture of it! I felt very out of place.

You’re both in serious relationships, but you travel all the time for work. What’s your secret for making a long-distance relationship work?
KW: Communication and Skype! Plus, there’s something about missing each other that makes it more exciting.

JH: I think it makes sense when both of you have direction and you can use your energy for that when you’re apart, and then focus it on each other when you come back.

When people think of Footloose, they think of Kevin Bacon. Were you nervous about playing such an iconic role?
KW: I was a big fan of the original, and there are definitely pressures of remaking any movie, but with our director, I felt like I was in good hands the whole time. Plus, he rewrote the script, so we didn’t feel like we were making someone else’s movie, we felt like we were fully doing our own thing. Of course, there are moments like [when I wear] the maroon jacket and [drive] the [Volkswagen] Bug, and if they weren’t in there, it would be terrible. You need to hit some of those moments, so [the viewer] can go, ‘oh, yeah!’

Do you know if Kevin Bacon has seen it yet?
JH: He has not seen it. We’ve heard he’s going to try to watch it in the next few weeks, but he’s shooting a movie right now.

KW: We look forward to getting his view on it, but I feel confident in it, honestly. I feel we made a great movie with a lot of respect to what he did, so I think he will love it.

From crazy bus races to fight scenes, there are some intense moments in the movie. Did you both do your own stunts?
KW: I would actually do it all and then the stunt guy would do it. It’s cool because they would teach us the right way to do things. But they used as much of us as they could. In the fight scene at the end, they had these stunt guys dressed up in the same clothes [as us]. They were like, 45 years old, and had scruff, which I don’t have yet, even though I’m 27, so it was funny. But Julianne did the whole hanging out of the car window thing.

JH: They had a stunt person there, but I was like, ‘No way! I have to do this! This is so up my alley!’ I’m an adrenaline junkie.

Footloose hits theaters on Oct. 14.