No matter what the expectations are for fans of the 1984 version of the dance smash "Footloose," one thing for certain is that the stars of the remake -- Kenny Wormald and Julianne Hough -- are no doubt qualified when it comes to fancy footwork.
Both professional dancers, Wormald has toured with the likes of Justin Timberlake and did some moves in "Center Stage: Turn It Up," while Hough appeared on three seasons of "Dancing with the Stars" from 2007-2009 and had a supporting role in the dance musical "Burlesque."
Despite being relatively new to the film world, Wormald said perhaps the greatest pressure of doing the remake actually rested on the shoulders of director Craig Brewer ("Hustle & Flow"), who also wrote the screenplay for the new film -- which debuts Tuesday on Blu-ray and DVD (Paramount Home Entertainment).
"The daunting process for me was the audition," Wormald recalled for me in an interview. "Once I booked (the film), I was like, 'Cool, let's do this.' Since Craig re-wrote the (original) script, it felt like we were making a new movie. It didn't feel like we were making something I had already seen before. There wasn't so much pressure making it as there is now, with doing interviews and meeting people, and having them saying, 'This better be good.'"
The original "Footloose" was released in 1984 and of course, made a superstar out of actor Kevin Bacon. The film also starred the likes of Lori Singer, Chris Penn, John Lithgow and Dianne Wiest.
The new version of "Footloose" is once again set in the fictional southern town of Bomont, whose residents are reeling from the deaths of a group of high schoolers in a car crash following a party. As a result, a curfew has been imposed by the town's council and the town's preacher, the Rev. Shaw Moore (Dennis Quaid) who lost his only son in the crash. In a bigger move to prevent more tragedy, the town also votes to outlaw dancing and rock music.
Wormald takes over the Bacon role of Ren MacCormack in the remake, a rebellious transplant from Boston who comes to live with his uncle (Ray McKinnon) and aunt (Kim Dickens) following the death of his mother. Almost immediately breaking all the rules set by the town after the tragedy of three years earlier, Ren attracts the attention of Moore's daughter, Ariel (Hough), who has been acting out against her over protective father since the death of her brother.
Naturally there are notable differences between the old and new "Footloose," and among them is more depth for Ariel, played in the original by Singer.
"I think this version really made Ariel's story much more poignant," Hough told in an interview. "I feel like you understand more in this version why she's being the rebellious kid she's being and acting out against her dad. You feel for her more in this version. I think a lot of people are thinking that this is going to be the Broadway musical version of 'Footloose' and I was hired for my dancing and singing, but that's not the case at all."
"The new version is just like the original with dancing in it, but the fact able to focus on the acting and push the limits with character was a perfect fit for me," added Hough.
While both are thrilled to be a bit part of the "Footloose" remake, Wormald and Hough said they're not interested in becoming a part of director Kenny Ortega's planned remake of "Dirty Dancing" -- even though both have a leg up, so to speak, on the competition.
"I'm looking forward to doing more roles, just not in the musical department. I'm actually attached now to a film called 'Someone in the Dark' and there's no dancing involved at all,'" Wormald told me with a laugh. "That doesn't mean I'm going to stray away from dance. I'm always going to dance. Right now, I definitely want to show the world and Julianne and I aren't just dance kids."
Meanwhile, Hough (who is also a successful country music artist) is starring in the lead role of Sherrie Christian in the upcoming big-screen adaptation of the Broadway musical "Rock of Ages" opposite Tom Cruise, said she is ready to give her feet a rest.
"Since I just did 'Rock of Ages,' 'Footloose' and before that 'Burlesque,' I just think I'm going to try to focus on some more dramatic roles and try to venture out a little bit," Hough said.
More from Tim Lammers: