With Mother’s day just around the corner, Disney’s live action musical, Into The Woods is being released on Digital, Blu-‐ray and DVD on May 6th, 2015. This well loved musical is lead by an all‐star cast Including Meryl Streep (Mamma Mia), Emily Blunt, Anna Kendrick (Pitch Perfect), Chris Pine (Rise of the Guardians), and Johnny Depp (Sweeny Todd: The demon Barber of Fleet Street). It was also nominated for three Golden Globes, including Best Motion Picture (Comedy or Musical), and an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress – Meryl Streep.
The movie was directed by Rob Marshall who has received 23 Academy Award nominations, winning nine, including Best Picture. He also directed Academy Award-winning film Chicago which won six Oscars including Best Picture.
Marshall was asked about directing the movie of Into The Woods.
What attracted you to the project?
‘I’ve always loved this show, ever since I saw the original company in 1987. It was a beautiful, joyous and important piece, and I remember just being transported by it. It was this unique combination of characters coming together and creating a tapestry of classic stories told in an incredibly profound way, exploring what happens after “happily ever after.” It’s okay to wish and want and hope and dream, but this piece deals with the reality of the world and the struggles and hardships that we face along the way, and I think it’s important for people today, children especially, to understand that.’
What is it about Stephen Sondheim’s work that you find most compelling?
‘Stephen Sondheim is the greatest living composer we have. Actors love singing his material because in a way, he is an actor himself, in that he writes for and about the character (their wants, their needs, their fears, their vulnerability, their joys, etc). What’s beautiful about a Stephen Sondheim song is that it’s never just a song about something generic, it’s something very specific, and things change during the song. The beginning of the song is not the same as the end of the song… it’s a journey of sorts, and that’s why the songs don’t step outside of the scene, but live inside the piece so integrally, which is part of the genius of his work.’
3. Tell us about working with James Lapine.
‘It was wonderful to work with James because I had admired his work for years and, of course, he was the author of the stage play. I felt it was important to work with the original creators of the piece in order to retain the integrity and substance of the work, while of course re-imagining it as a film. I was so impressed with how open James was to trying new things, and how he instinctively understood that what works on stage would not necessarily translate to film. He really approached this as a new piece.’
Tell us about the calibre of the talent that’s been assembled.
‘One of my philosophies about casting is that ultimately, if you do it right you actually don’t have to make the choice…it’s made for you. In other words, someone comes in and claims the role and says, “This is mine,” and that’s exactly what happened all throughout the casting process of this film.
I honestly thought Emily Blunt would be perfection in the role of the Baker’s Wife, but I didn’t think in a million years she could sing as well as she does. And she came in and sang “Moments in the Woods,” and it was a full performance, I couldn’t believe it. By the end of the song I literally found myself crying because I was so happy that someone had all the ingredients required for the Baker’s Wife. The character has to be incredibly warm and accessible, funny, have a big heart and be able to sing as well, and she had all of it.
James Corden had done a reading for us as the Baker, and it was clear to everyone that he was our man. I was really hoping to find someone who could play the everyman, and he’s an extraordinary actor, and the scope of his talent is truly overwhelming.
Meryl Streep was for me the key ingredient to the film. I couldn’t imagine making this film without her. She brings everything you might imagine to the work, and more. Her depth, vulnerability, imagination, humour, and spontaneity is unparalleled. Not to mention her voice… Wow! That knocked me out. I knew she could sing, but like this? I had no idea. The truth is there is nothing she can’t do.’
Anyone who has already seen the movie could only but agree.
Into The Woods is available on Digital, Blu Ray and DVD.