Q&A: Anne Fletcher


Anne Fletcher has danced a jig on the Titanic, taught Halle Berry to meow and gotten Sandra Bullock naked. The dancer-turned-choreographer-turned-director has been helping actors unleash their inner Astaires for two decades in such films as "The 40-Year-Old Virgin," "Bring It On" and "Along Came Polly." Three years ago, she took the megaphone herself for "Step Up," then "27 Dresses" and now the Bullock/Ryan Reynolds comedy "The Proposal," which Disney will release Friday.

The Hollywood Reporter: You've known and worked with director Adam Shankman ("Hairspray") for a long time. How did you meet?

Anne Fletcher: We were hired to dance on the Oscars in 1990, and Paula Abdul was the choreographer. I was 22 and he was 24, and he was the skinniest little thing, this little gymnast dancer boy. We did all these huge production numbers. At the time, they would do dance segments on each of the costumes that were nominated, and we did "Baron Munchausen." We never looked back.

THR: You grooved with Mark Wahlberg in "Boogie Nights" as a Hot Traxx dancer. How did that happen?

Fletcher: Adam was the choreographer and I was the assistant choreographer. Mark and I hit it off really well, and Adam thought it was a good idea to put me with Mark because he would listen if I was standing there and he would do what he was supposed to do. He wanted to breakdance. And we were like, "You can't breakdance." So he put me with him to help him get through the moves. And plus, we had a little chemistry, that fella and I.

THR: Which actor has been the most naturally gifted dancer that you've coached?

Fletcher: Sandy Bullock. By far. If she had taken dance lessons as a kid, she would be a dancer. She's a bona fide dancer in her soul. Aside from her, one of the people that blew me away was Nic Cage in "Family Man." I remember meeting Nic for the first time, and he says, "I don't dance." I spent the next month in a sweat, just panic. I come in the day we're going to shoot it, we started dancing and he had it in five seconds flat.

THR: Does "Proposal" have special resonance for you in terms of the kind of woman you wanted to portray?

Fletcher: Yes and no. The story always drives it first. But we were very conscious of staying true to the character. She's gotta come full circle --her walls have to come down -- but she's still the same person. It's hard. Women are suckers for romance. But the guy's not always the answer. As an audience member, I want the women to be more like me. We all have that girly side to us, we're cheesy on many levels, but I also just want to respond to the woman. You've gotta be smart, you've gotta have your shit together, you can't just be this girl out there looking for the right man -- that's unappealing.

THR: What were the negotiations like to convince Sandy to spend so much time on camera naked?

Fletcher: I'm like, "We've seen scenes like this, and you know we're going to shoot above the shoulders and below the legs." But I'm like, "Audiences are so savvy now, what can I do to enhance this scene?" So Sandy and Ryan come in, I've got my DP there and my script supervisor, and I go, "OK, I want to shoot the naked scene where I see you head to toe, and I'm here now because we have to map it out and choreograph it with you guys." And there wasn't even the bat of an eyelash. They started laughing and went, "OK."

THR: Did Sandy ever ask for a bigger washcloth to cover her special parts during shooting?

Fletcher: It's a little hand mitt! I was like, "OK, Sandy, you're covering your boobs, but you're not really covering your boobs -- so this is how you're going to have to hold them." It was Hold-Your-Boobs 101. They understood that it was for shock and comedy, and that nobody has seen that played out that way. Plus, her body is sensational! People are blown away by her. Men love it and women are in awe that she looks so good. And they were funny because in the beginning everyone was so respectful and covered them up, and then I'd go in there to give them a note and Ryan's like, "Look at this!"

THR: You're now choreographing "Get Him to the Greek." How is working with Russell Brand?

Fletcher: This character's entire movement comes from his crotch. Everything is driven by that area, so the more we can focus on that, the better.