*The new “Annie” does not only have scenes shot in Harlem, but is completely revamped! Annie is black, does not have red hair, and the music is right on time. The film, directed by Will Gluck, has a host of producers—Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, Shawn “Jay Z” Carter, James Lassiter, Caleeb Pinkett, Laurence “Jay” Brown, and Tyran “Ty Ty” Smith.
Speaking with Jamie Foxx (“Django Unchained,” “White House Down,” “Ray”) and Quvenzhane Wallis (“Beasts of the Southern Wild,” “12 Years a Slave”) at the Crosby Hotel in New York City recently, The Film Strip asked them what did they want audiences to walk away with after seeing the movie?
“A good family feeling, and we need that right now,” Foxx responded. “We need something really positive.” Wallis was in agreement. “I want them to walk away with a great, upbeat feeling,” she said. I want them to be singing ‘Tomorrow,’ ‘Maybe,’ and all the other upbeat, [uplifting] songs that are in the film.”
“It” kid Quvenzhane Wallis went on to say how inspirational the movie is.
“The thing about ‘Annie,’ for me, is that it’s good to always be strong. And if you have a goal, go for it. If there’s something in your way, just go around it and find your path again. Go for your goal!” Foxx concurred with his co-star. “I echo those sentiments,” he added.
For this “Annie,” Glick said, “The original was used as source material. I saw ‘Annie’ when I was a kid. What connected with me is the fact that it’s about hope, optimism, finding family no matter where it was, and never giving up. Those were the touchstones, with the bones and music. So we took those and then we stuck in our ‘Annie.’ We were very conscious to not forget what makes ‘Annie’ so special for people. With the new technology, we just wanted to make it contemporary. Jamie’s character made $4.3 billion dollars on his cell phone company but he can’t communicate. So a little nod to all that stuff is in there too.”
This “Annie,” Foxx feels, is very special because Wallis is such a unique talent.
“She’s amazing because she’ able to stand toe to toe with the big guns,” he offered. She brings as much power and weight to a performance as an adult. Yet, at the same time, she’s a kid. It’s so much fun watching her develop. I think she had a great time with this. Movies can be tough in the cerebral form of it. To be able to walk that fine line of being a child and still being a grown up, a lot of responsibility is involved.”
Besides uplifting, engaging and amusing entertainment, Cameron Diaz (Miss Hannigan) and Bobby Cannavale (Guy) say there are many more reasons to take the whole family to see “Annie” December 19.
“This is a completely different movie,” Diaz explained. “Since it’s set in modern, contemporary times, my Hannigan, his Guy [looking at Cannavale], and all the other characters, give performances for the generation that’s going to see it for the first time. The kids are the age we were when we saw the original. These kids are going to watch this movie, and this is going to be their original. Thirty years from now, they might remake ‘Annie,’ and those kids might go, ‘How come she’s Chinese? She’s supposed to be black.’” Cannavale interjected, “She was a girl, now she’s a boy [laughs].”
Giving other reasons why “Annie” is an excellent choice, Cannavale directed attention to Wallis.
“She’s more than a performer. She’s more than that—she’s a kid, and I mean that as a compliment,” he said. “She has a real natural talent and real depth. I mean that. We all saw that in the first movie she did—still waters [referring to her acting in ‘Beast of the Southern Wild’]. She has an old quality about her, but still she’s a little girl that’s just charming and deep. And she’s always curious. You see what’s going on behind those eyes. Quvenzhane is the youngest actress to be nominated for an Oscar. It’s exciting to see her grow up as an artist. So there’s a lot of reasons people should be excited about this movie.”
Pointing out how different and important her role in “Annie” is, Diaz campared her character to the original.
“My Hannigan’s issues are different from those of Carol Burnett in the original. Carol Burnett was drinking because she didn’t have a man and didn’t get married. And today, Miss Hannigan is drinking because she doesn’t have fame. It’s an epidemic in our society, that we have to look at how many likes we have, and how many people follow us, to validate whether or not we are seen, or whether or not we are worthy of love. I just look at it like Hannigan is just a representation of that. She has to learn that she’s worthy of love, and that the way she is treating those kids is the same way she’s treating herself, even worse.”
Syndicated Entertainment journalist Marie Moore reports on film and TV from her New York City base. Contact her at [email protected].