Meryl Streep, Anna Kendrick Share the Many 'Into the Woods' Morals for Adult Moviegoers
Said Emily Blunt, "Nobody goes through life unscathed — things happen every day and you're never really on your own, and I think that's vital for people to know these days"
Just when children make their final wishes for holiday gifts — and when adults vow to follow a new set of New Year's resolutions — Into the Woods, Disney's cautionary tale on wanting too hard, will hit theaters, on Christmas Day.
For those not familiar with Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's beloved fairy tale-crossing musical, "The first half is very much a romp and a farce; it's joyous, smart, clever and playful," explained director Rob Marshall at the film's world premiere on Monday night at New York City's Ziegfeld Theatre. "But when it turns is, in a way, the best part, because you reveal what happens after 'happily ever after.' Is what they wanted really what they wanted? And what did they do to get it? It's a wonderful lesson for children today."
Yet the film adaptation isn't just wagging its finger at kids. Anna Kendrick told The Hollywood Reporter that her version of Cinderella struggles with a common problem among adults. "The dilemma she has is a very modern one — especially as women, there are lots of situations where we're telling ourselves we should be happy with what we have, and our gut is telling us we should fight for something that's authentic instead of settling for the thing that other people say should make you happy."
Of other adult-minded topics mentioned onscreen, Billy Magnussen noted, "Prince Charming isn't always what you need; you need the right guy, because no one's perfect." His Rapunzel, played by Mackenzie Mauzy, hoped to reassure jaded moviegoers that though "they're dealing with the darkness of the world, because there is darkness, it's not to say you shouldn't dream, wish and be excited about the future. But have a consciousness about the consequences of your decisions, because it's so easy to get caught up in wanting something. Everyone's done it, but once you get there, you have a whole new set of problems — that's life!"
Throughout the film, audiences will follow baker James Corden and his wife Emily Blunt into the woods, as the two go on a quest to lift a curse that prevents them from starting a family. "We're very much the audience's eyes and ears — if they don't believe in us, that these two are really together, trying for a baby and doing this, the whole thing kind of goes for nothing," Corden told THR. After posing for photos with real-life husband John Krasinski, Blunt added, "You put yourself in her shoes, and in a way, out of all of these magical people, she's the most slippery and deliberate. She's really determined to get everything that she wants, and she's somewhat blinded by desperation."
After an unraveling that producer John DeLuca hopes is "poignant without being saccharine," yet still has its moments of jesting of Disney's own catalog of fairy-tale musicals — "You're always this close to Saturday Night Live; a little parody, but this is a beautifully written piece that actually loves the genre and doesn't make fun of it, it is of the genre," said Marshall — the characters and the audience are left with a nice list of morals. For example, Blunt told reporters that she personally carries with her that "nobody goes through life unscathed... things happen every day and you're never really on your own, and I think that's vital for people to know these days."
Little Red Riding Hood actress Lilla Crawford said, "It's all about growing up and becoming an adult, leaving your childhood behind." And Jack and the Beanstalk's boy Daniel Huttlestone learned, "In life, sometimes it goes right and sometimes it doesn't, but you've gotta have the down side as well."
However, the bewitching Meryl Streep — who paused her interviews to greet Sting on the red carpet — seized a very different takeaway from the adaptation. "You know what I really didn’t like? When I was a little girl, I wore glasses, and I didn't feel pretty, and all the princesses were always really pretty, and I identified with the ugly stepsisters," she told reporters of the Cinderella villains. Yet in Into the Woods, "they're not ugly, and that's what I like! They're bitchy and they're really pretty!"
The star-studded screening drew Hollywood and Broadway together like a only a movie musical can. Alongside Sondheim and Lapine, producer Marc Platt and cast members Johnny Depp, Tracey Ullman, Christine Baranski and Tammy Blanchard were Jon Hamm, Kim Raver, Alyssa Milano, Celia Weston, Ana Gasteyer, Erin Richards, Robin Lord Taylor, Zoe Kazan, Paul Dano, La La Anthony, Ben Platt, Condola Rashad, James Monroe Iglehart, Taylor Louderman, Ramin Karimloo, Andy Mientus, Lena Hall, Erich Bergen and Donna Murphy.
Into the Woods hits theaters Dec. 25.
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Tracey Ullman, Daniel Huttlestone, Lilla Crawford, Emily Blunt, Meryl Streep, Anna Kendrick, James Corden, MacKenzie Mauzy, director Rob Marshall, Billy Magnussen and Christine Baranski. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)