Back in 1984, a star was born when Kevin Bacon took to the dance floor in “Footloose,” playing Ren McCormack. Coincidentally, 1984 is also the year that Kenny Wormald was born. He stars as McCormack in the 2011 version of the film, filling Bacon’s dancing shoes with a lot more professional dancing experience.
Back in 1984, a star was born when Kevin Bacon took to the dance floor in “Footloose,” playing Ren McCormack.
Coincidentally, 1984 is also the year that Kenny Wormald was born. He stars as McCormack in the 2011 version of the film, filling Bacon’s dancing shoes with a lot more professional dancing experience.
I recently met with Wormald and his co-star, Julianne Hough, in Boston where they were promoting the film.
While the plot of “Footloose” is one that requires a serious suspension of disbelief, the movie was charming enough to reach audiences 27 years ago, so it can certainly do the same now.
Reeling from the death of his mother, McCormack moves in with his aunt and uncle in a tiny town where dancing has been outlawed. After a tragic accident took the lives of four high school students following a night of “wild teen dancing,” the father of one of those teens, Reverend Moore (Dennis Quaid), helped make dancing illegal. His daughter Ariel (Hough) rebels against him, her mother (Andie MacDowell) and the town’s rules, and she takes up with the new kid in town.
The filmmakers changed McCormack’s hometown from Chicago to Boston, so Wormald was free to let loose with his Boston accent while cutting loose on the dance floor. Craig Brewer directed the film, and Wormald couldn’t say enough good things about him.
“He was in love with ‘Footloose,’ so knowing his past work and what he can do, mixed with his love and his desire to be so true and honest to the original, we just felt we were in good hands and protected. “
Wormald admitted it was hard to pick a favorite scene but said the warehouse solo dance was one of the most enjoyable to shoot.
“The angry dance scene was how we finished the movie. [It was filmed] the last three days, and that’s the most iconic scene from the original. It was insane to shoot it, and it was a blast.”
He went on to reveal that the filmmakers did use a stunt double in that scene, but only for the gymnastics sequence.
“They didn’t let me do the gymnastics. They hired a Georgia State University gymnast for that, but everything else was me.”
The “everything else” he’s referring to is quite an impressive display of fancy footwork.
Studying dance at the Sherry Gold Dance Studio in Brockton, Mass., since he was a first-grader, Wormald said, “It’s pretty much the only thing I’ve ever known. I’ve been dancing since I was 6, and I fell in love with it right away. That’s why I’ve stuck with it. But you know, it’s hard at times. It’s six days a week at the studio, and growing up, sometimes I found myself missing football practice or baseball, but I just always went back to it.”
Julianne Hough, best known for her two wins on “Dancing With the Stars,” was thrilled to work with Dennis Quaid and praised the versatile movie star.
“He gives as an actor. He’s not one of those actors who has a stand-in when he’s off camera. He was there giving me so much emotion in that church scene, his eyes were watering every time I did it. He’s definitely a giver. And it was great to learn from just watching him prepare.”
While the film pays tribute to the original “Footloose,” Wormald insists that this new generation has put its own stamp on it.
“We had known ‘Footloose’ so well from seeing it so many times growing up. But we came at it like this was the first time this was ever being done. It felt like our movie,” he said.
Veteran actors Quaid and MacDowell do their parts well enough, but the scene-stealer is Miles Teller as the sweet but hapless hoofer Willard in the role made famous by the late Chris Penn.
While this film may not win any awards, if you liked “Footloose” in 1984, you will enjoy this updated version. As for the generation that missed the original, they are sure to appreciate the impressive and athletic dance routines, if only because they’ve grown up exposed to so many dancing reality shows.
Wormald believes in his movie and in the power of dancing.
“It makes you feel good. You leave the studio at night, and there is nothing in the world that you can compare that to. It sounds corny, but there’s something magical about it.”
Surely he and the rest of cast are hoping the new “Footloose” will make magic at the box office.
Movie reviewer Meg Quinn-DeBoer writes for Wicked Local Topsfield in Ipswich, Mass.