The ballroom of London’s Corinthia Hotel provided a suitably regal setting in which to host a gathering graced by the presence of a legendary princess – and a baker! The press conference to mark the public launch of Disney’s new fantasy spectacular Into The Woods (2014), which opens in the UK at the beginning of January 2015, welcomed hot Hollywood property Anna Kendrick – who plays the regal Cinderella – and James Corden – who portrays The Baker in the film. Along with producer John Deluca and director Rob Marshall, the stars of the musical / fairytale hybrid based on the smash hit Broadway extravaganza by multi-award winning composer Stephen Sondheim, came along to give their take on starring in what promises to be one of the new year’s biggest movies.
The most important question to ask the stars of a film based around characters and themes from some of the world’s most famous fairytales was obviously whether or not these stories had played a major part in their own lives when growing up?
“I was never read fairy stories specifically when I was a child”, explained Anna. “It was more the Berenstain Bears who I grew up with, and who my parents used to teach me life lessons when I was young”.
Corden had stronger though no less unorthodox feelings about the stories and the part they played in his life. “I always found fairy stories scary. I think the way Sondheim has treated them though is much more significant. His versions of them tell you that screw-ups come into everyone’s lives. However, no matter how much you may feel that your on your own, you’re not really”.
Asked how much a part musicals and Sondheim’s work had played in their lives they were much more in agreement. “People always told my mother that I wouldn’t stop singing when I was at school, so I was always conscious of it”, said Anna. As for Stephen’s musical it was always the part of Little Red who I felt an attachment to. But Cinderella’s role showed me the real magic of his work, and her main song sung outside the palace helped me to really understand his work. I found seeing the person Cinderella becomes and how she reacts in situations, the most appealing part of the process”.
All I ever wanted to do was star in a West End musical, and I get more excited at the prospect of being in a musical than anything else”, said James. Even so he still seemed to find it difficult to accept that he was actually part of such a massive operation. “It was easier at first because I didn’t imagine that it would be a film or that I’d ever end up in it. It started off simply as a workshop, and I never really believed I’d end up in a film opposite Meryl Streep (who plays The Witch in the film). But all credit goes to Rob. He’s the one person who really made the film work. He managed to cut an hour out of a three hour stage show to make a film, yet lost nothing in the process”.
As far as director Rob Marshall was concerned there was no question on James and Anna’s suitability for their roles. “During the reading two years ago James and Anna read and it was clear they were perfect. They brought a depth and complexity to the roles – the roles were theirs”. He did admit though that working on such a massive production was not without its hazards. “With such a large cast you have to make sure that everyone’s singing (quite literally) from the same song sheet. There was an ensemble of 19 principal actors, which was one of the joys of the whole thing”.
John Deluca who produced the film, and had worked with Rob before on the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, admitted it could have been hard to make the film happen, but once one secret ingredient came on board it all worked. “The film was a difficult balancing act of fairytale and music, and we also wanted to honour the stage show. However after we had both seen the original production in 1987 and came up with the idea of a film version, Disney came on board and it just came together. Rob and I had worked with the studio on Pirates of the Caribbean so we trusted them. The film is an odd fit with the ‘traditional’ Disney, so working on it was a journey into the new and unknown for us all”.
Once you see the film you will be sure to agree that it’s been a journey – and risk – well worth taking.
Cleaver has also watched Into The Woods, to read his views of the film stay tuned as we’ll post the review closer to it’s UK&Irish release on 9th January 2015.