'Annie' Cast Shakes Off Sony Hack: "I'm a Lot More Heartbroken About Other Things"
Says Cameron Diaz: "Hannigan represents an epidemic in our society today — we put our self-worth on how many likes and followers we have. … I think that's really dangerous"
The sidewalk just outside New York City's Ziegfeld Theatre transformed into a kid-filled block party on Sunday afternoon for the premiere of Annie. Across the hopscotch-course-covered black carpet lined with many, many reporters, the P.S. 153 Chorus clapped and danced to the DJ's set list of chart-toppers and Christmas carols, while guests and their children greeted "Kid President" celeb Robby Novak, played with the film's featured pup, and hopped into a photo booth to create their own GIFs.
The lighthearted atmosphere encouraged the cast's overall attitude about the fact that their modernized movie-musical had been leaked online, as part of the recent Sony Pictures hack. "It's absolutely disappointing — I was traveling so I didn't find out until later, but as you see here today, it's so joyous even here today that I think everyone is just carrying on," Rose Byrne told The Hollywood Reporter, and her beau and co-star Bobby Cannavale added, "Heartbroken? There's so much going on this week. I'm a lot more heartbroken about other things."
Although the film's Cameron Diaz simply shook her head, telling THR, "It's hard to comment on it," castmate Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje explained his perspective. "Because Annie is such an intimate part of the American membrane, I hardly think it'll distract people from coming to see it. It's a festive movie, and that's what people want during Christmas. I believe the hackers will probably be in there as well!"
Director Will Gluck said of the film's ill-timed Thanksgiving leak, "I wasn't happy — the whole holiday weekend, I was dealing with that. The only thing I could find, after going through a wide range of emotions, is that we made a movie about hope, optimism and finding your place in life, and if more people ultimately get to see that because of this, that's the only thing I can hang onto." He's not letting the experience affect how he approaches filmmaking: "As soon as we start changing the way we make movies based on Internet cyber-security, I think we're done."
Jamie Foxx hit the premiere with his daughter Annalise Bishop, joining producer Will Smith, the soundtrack's songstress Sia, Sony Pictures Entertainment's Amy Pascal, Padma Lakshmi, Meagan Good, La La Anthony, Orange Is the New Black's Dascha Polanco, the 1982 film's Aileen Quinn and Into the Woods' Lilla Crawford, who played Annie on Broadway. They all headed downtown to the Skylight Clarkson Square to join producer Jay Z, Beyonce and daughter Blue Ivy for a balloon-filled bash that rivaled the elaborate afterparty in the film: an indoor carnival with games, jugglers, stilt-walkers, photo booths, ice cream, cookies and candy, a decadent dinner spread of savory finger foods, plus s'mores with liquid marshmallows and cannolis — Annie's favorite Friday-night treat.
Gluck rewrote the classic stage musical with a multiracial cast, meta jokes, a handful of cameos and a New York City attitude, plus key updates for today's tech-savvy audiences. For example, Quvenzhane Wallis noted that her title character is "not an orphan, she's a foster kid" in Harlem, under the care of a new kind of crazed caretaker.
"For me, Miss Hannigan represents an epidemic in our society today — we put our self-worth on how many likes and followers we have, and we don't think we're worthy of love if we're not a celebrity or achieve fame. I think that's really dangerous, because self-love is the only way you're happy," Diaz explained. "That's where you get your self-worth: by loving yourself for who you are, not for what you're not."
Twitter and Instagram are topics onscreen — an organic part of the musical's reboot, said Gluck. "Everyone asked if I specifically put social media in, and I say, 'No, I just made a movie about now.' So if you look back in 10 years and watch this movie, it won't be, 'He put in all this social media,' it'll be, 'Wow, that's 10 years old.'"
Cannavale commented on the swap of Foxx's character from Great Depression businessman Daddy Warbucks to tech leader Will Stacks: "We know what a telecommunication [CEO] is, but I don't think we'd know so much what a war profiteer is. … Kids have phones. We mention his phone a million times in this, so if you don't have a cell phone after this movie, you're probably gonna be forced to get one!"
And Byrne's character, Grace, works under Stacks, but in a new, overdue way, she explains. "In the original, she's Daddy Warbucks' assistant, but I'm like the brains behind Stacks' company — we really wanted to make her like all the women you see around New York, who are so busy running around and running things."
Annie hits theaters Dec. 19.