'Rocky Horror Picture Show' Premiere: Laverne Cox, Victoria Justice Talk Getting Into Character

Reeve Carney, Christina Milian and Ryan McCartan also made the scene at the debut of the Kenny Ortega reimagining, which airs on Fox on Oct. 20.
Steve Wilkie/FOX

The light over at the Frankenstein place burned brightly on the Sunset Strip Thursday night (Oct. 13) for the premiere of Fox’s Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do The Time Warp Again. The movie airs Oct. 20.

The event, held at The Roxy, the legendary Los Angeles club owned by Lou Adler, who executive produced both the original 1975 cult classic and the new Kenny Ortega-directed reimagining, brought out most of the cast, including Orange Is The New Black star Laverne Cox, who takes on the iconic role of Dr. Frank-N-Furter, made famous by the late Tim Curry.

Cox, who took months of vocal lessons to train for the part and brought her mom with her on the red carpet, took the film’s message of “Don’t dream it, be it” to heart. “I am a black transgender woman from Mobile, Alabama, from a working class background who is starring in Rocky Horror Picture Show,” she told Billboard, still obviously incredulous about her good fortune. “The movie is about freedom and embracing who you are. Letting go of all your inhibitions. I hope that’s what people take away — that anything is possible.”

That was a message echoed by many of the film’s stars. “Rocky Horror is all being your authentic self and owning it and who cares if you’re considered weird or crazy or different. Just go for it,” said Victoria Justice, who plays the newly engaged Janet Weiss, a role created by Susan Sarandon. The former Nickelodeon star watched the 1975 film “several times because I wanted to be able to pay homage to certain specific spots that are already fan favorites,” she said, “but I also wanted to not memorize it or copy it so I could make my own choices.”

For Ryan McCartan, the Disney actor who plays Janet’s fiance, Brad, the part was the realization of a long-held desire. “I have wanted to play Brad Majors since I was 12,” he said. “I saw the play with my parents because my sister was in it playing a Transylvanian, playing a slutty nun, in a production in St. Paul, Minnesota, at the Ordway Theater. When I saw Brad, such a nerdy guy turned into a transvestite masterpiece, I knew I would play this role some day. There aren’t words to describe how I feel and there never will be.”

Even though McCartan, like the original Brad, Barry Bostwick, got pneumonia while shooting the rainy outdoor scenes in a very chilly Toronto, he said he had “no complaints. I put on the gold drag and saw how fierce I looked and I was like, ‘I’ll be fine.’”

As young as McCartan was when he saw the camp classic flick, Christina Milian, who plays Magenta, had him beat. “The first time I saw Rocky Horror, it was my elementary [school] years because my mom was a very cool mom,” she said. However, she admitted some of it — thankfully — went over her head. “I didn’t necessarily understand what it was all about. I always remember the scene when they realized they ate Eddie.” Bad boy biker Eddie, played by Meatloaf in the original, is played by Adam Lambert in the new version.

Broadway vet Reeve Carney relished the chance to play manservant Riff Raff after playing the beautiful, immortal Dorian Gray on Showtime’s Penny Dreadful. “I was excited to go from Dorian to Riff Raff. He’s supposed to be a bit more ghoulish, not necessarily the prom king. It’s something different from what I did before,”  Carney said. “In fact, I’d like to remake this movie 10 times, it was so much fun.”

To get into character, Carney, who has a new album coming out Oct. 21, imagined what role Riff Raff would play in a band. “He would most certainly be the bass player,” he said. “He’s the guy in the back that you might not always notice, but he’s keeping the show together.”

After the red carpet, the stars joined the crowd inside — made up largely of very enthusiastic shadow castmembers from as far away as Arizona in costume as their favorite Rocky Horror characters — for the first official viewing of the film. Sal Piro, the president of The Rocky Horror Picture Show fan club since 1977, introduced the film, but first asked the audience to break from the tradition of yelling back at the screen so that people could hear the movie.

What followed was a near word-for-word re-creation of the original, with a few stylistic changes, but completely faithful in the joyous tone of the 1975 film.

“I want a new generation to actually look back at the original. I want people to buy into the fun of the original and see the progression that’s not meant to be about change or to better it, but to appeal to a new demographic,” summed up Game of Thrones’ Staz Nair, who plays Frank-N-Furter’s monster Rocky. “We put our heart and soul into this. Everyone invested every part of themselves, and I believe that comes across in the film.”

This story first appeared on billboard.com

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