Earlier in December I went to the Annie press junket for Sony Pictures. It was a wonderful experience, and a highlight was the opportunity to interview both Cameron Diaz and Bobby Cannavale!
Cameron Diaz plays the role of Miss Hannigan, a cruel control freak of the foster home where Annie lives with several other girls.
Bobby Cannavale is Guy, the aggressive political advisor to Will Stacks, who’s running for mayor.
My small group of bloggers at the interview had a wide variety of questions for both Diaz and Cannavale. They spoke about emotions, acting, child actors and so much more during the short amount of time we had with them!
Highlights from my interview with Cameron Diaz & Bobby Cannavale of Annie:
What was your favorite part of the movie?
BC: I loved doing Easy Street.
CD: Yeah. Easy Street. Bobby says that he has never danced before, but don’t believe him!
BC: Dancing does NOT come naturally for me.
CD: It does, though! I witnessed it.
BC: Well, it’s because it’s for the part. That’s the only way I could have done it. I’ve never been the kind of person to be like, “Let’s go dancing!” But for work it’s like gaining 100 pounds to play a guy who’s overweight. It’s for the part. And she’s the best partner. We were sympatico in the way we attacked it. Like sports or…
CD: Right. Very athletic, we were like, Let’s go! We were high-fiving.
BC: They kept adding stuff for us. That dance actually was a lot more simple when it started because we ended up getting it really quickly.
CD: They were like oh, you guys can do this!
BC: I also liked that number because for me, that’s almost the most natural musical number in the movie. We’re in a nightclub and there’s a band already playing. It sort of feels like the most natural setting to start dancing. That’s really why I did the part!
So are you ready for Dancing With the Stars?
BC: I’m not even ready to watch Dancing with the Stars?
[To CD] I read that your two biggest fears were heights and singing in front of people. How did you overcome that fear?
CD: To overcome heights I jumped out of an airplane and scaled a 1000-foot face of a mountain…not at the same time, clearly! I cried the entire time doing both of them. Not unlike this experience.
On this I knew I’d have to perform as if I could sing. That was what was terrifying. I didn’t know what that voice would sound like. But I knew they would surround me with the best professionals to help me find my best voice.
There were lots of tears. Hyperventilating in the vocal booth. It was terrifying.
But the thing I’ve learned about fear is that you can’t run from it. If you run from fear it jumps on your back and takes you down. If you look at fear and you run towards it and jump on it then your chances are better that you’re going to win.
Do you feel that you’ve overcome both of those fears?
I don’t know what to write…
CD: [Laughing] I have now done them both but I’m still scared of heights and I’m still scared of singing in front of people with a voice that says I know how to perform. but it doesn’t mean I won’t do it again. I tell myself I can do it, because I’ve done it once.
What’s one of the life lessons someone should get out of the movie?
CD: In the original movie, Miss Hannigan was a spinster. She didn’t get married and she wasn’t validated. She wanted love. Because she didn’t have it she had to live a life of raising kids in an orphanage. She didn’t love herself because no one loved her.
This Miss Hannigan is a comment towards today’s society about how we value ourselves. People spend all day long looking for likes and followers. This validates people. They take it as being loveable.
We’re totally screwing ourselves up. We’re not learning that it’s self-love. You can’t validate yourself by fame or celebrity, which is what our society is obsessed with. If you’re not seen by millions of people they’re not loveable. So Miss Hannigan was a victim of that. She didn’t get her fame, so she believed she wasn’t loveable. She spent her life hating herself. In return treating those poor little girls the way she treats herself and she doesn’t deserve to be treated that way.
Until she realizes she’s worth loving, she can’t be kind to herself and she can’t be kind to others.
I hope that people realize they don’t need fame, they need to love themselves for who they are not who they aren’t.
BC: I like the song Annie sings, ‘Opportunity’. I always like the idea that anything is possible as long as you’re in the moment. This little girl teaches the people in her life how to do that. The movie reinforces that in a really nice way for kids today.
[To BC] In the movie you get what you want by any means necessary. Are you like that in real life?
BC: Oh, I’m not. I’m just not that ambitious. Or if I am, I’m just not that naked about it. Guy just wears it on his sleeve.
To a fault, I think I might come across as seeming aloof because I’m terrified of seeming opportunistic. Guy is nothing like that.
But there’s all kinds of people. It’s easy to find people like that. Just turn on a news channel and see them in our political world. It works for some people, just not for me.
[To BC] How did your experience raising a child in New York City affect how you looked at Annie?
I did raise my son here. I was raised in New Jersey.
It’s incredible raising a kid in New York. On one hand, it’s the only thing they know, so they tend to grow up pretty fast. But there’s an opportunity every time you walk out your front door in New York City.
There are opportunities to be empathetic, to see all different kinds of people. Annie is definitely a product of the city that she grew up in. Whether she’s in a foster home or not, she’s still part of this beating heart of the city.
What was your thought of taking the original Annie and coming into this Annie?
BC: For me, I love that movie as well. I didn’t feel the need to go back and watch it, because the circumstances are just different. It’s just not the same time.
CD: We’re really making this version for kids who didn’t see the original Annie. We’re representing that generation. Those kids don’t label things the way we did when we were young. What the film does so well, what Will Gluck does so well, is it takes all the things that people do know and love about the original film and capture it and bring it into a modern story.
How was it working with Quvenzhané Wallis?
CD: She’s a sweet girl. Sometimes you work with these kids and you’re like, How old are you?? Quvenzhané is just a girl. She’s an 11 year old. She’s age-appropriate. She’s not in some weird adult kind of world. She’s a little girl, and I appreciate that so much. I think she is owed being a kid.
BC: It’s a pleasure not working with a professional kid actress. Quvenzhané is very open and I think that openness and that honesty is what comes across. She really is a kid.
Annie opens in theaters on December 19, 2014. Gather up your family and get your tickets now!
Thanks to Sony Pictures for flying me out to New York to participate in the press junket.