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Tim Curry was a welcome sight on Monday afternoon, making a rare appearance to plug Fox’s upcoming TV remake of The Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour.
The 70-year-old actor, sidelined by a stroke in 2012, has primarily done voice work for the last four years. And though his famous Dr. Frank-N-Furter pumps will be filled by Laverne Cox this go around, he does appear onscreen in the remake of the 1975 feature that made him a cult icon.
“I actually offered myself as Dr. Scott, because I was already in a wheelchair,” he says. “They thought narrator was a better fit.”
The role of Dr. Scott went to another veteran, Ben Vereen, but Curry’s appearance in the TV movie and at the promotional event should help Fox win over skeptical fans. Rocky Horror has played continuously at interactive midnight screenings since its original theatrical run, but previous attempts at a remake went nowhere.
When asked, point blank, if he gives the project his “unequivocal blessing,” Curry responded, “I do indeed.” (He also got laughs when he acknowledged that the movie was his legacy: “There’s not a lot I can do about it, really.”)
Producer-director Kenny Ortega offered some nuts and bolts of how the update is taking fans into account. The result is rather meta. To promote interaction from the at-home audience, the cues famously taken from theater audiences will be show onscreen with a taped audience of actors watching the new performance.
“When we shot the film, we filled a theater with fans and we tried many things — but we wanted to make sure the callbacks didn’t get in the way of telling the story,” he said. “We found a way to balance the callbacks into the arc of the storytelling.”
One potential issue for the production has been the lack of political correctness in the 1975 version. Dr. Frank-N-Furter is famously self-described in one of the first songs as “a sweet transvestite from Transexual, Transylvania.”
Ortega was quick to note that the character also is an alien. And when asked about casting Cox, an openly transgender woman, in the role, he clarified a bit. “A trans woman who wanted to play this role since she was a little child,” he said. “She’s a force.”
Rocky Horror is set to air Thursday, Oct. 20, at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Fox.
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