News

Rocky Horror: 11 Reasons To Do the Time Warp Again

by | October 17, 2016 | Comments

THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW: LET'S DO THE TIME WARP AGAIN (Miranda Penn Turin/FOX)

This week Fox celebrates the legacy of 1975 cult musical film hit The Rocky Horror Picture Show with the release of a 2016 TV-movie adaptation featuring a new cast.

Inspired by early Hollywood B movies, Rocky Horror is the story of betrothed couple Brad and Janet (Ryan McCartan and Victoria Justice) who take shelter from the rain in the mansion of alien scientist Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Laverne Cox, a role originally played by Tim Curry). Frank-N-Furter’s henchman Riff Raff (Reeve Carney) and other lackeys help the doctor bring his creature Rocky to life, with various characters seducing Brad and Janet away from each other.

We spoke with director Kenny Ortega, producer Lou Adler, and stars Cox, Justice, Carney, and Curry when they gathered at the Television Critics Association’s Press Tour this summer to promote The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again.

Here are 11 things we learned about the new production.


1. TIM CURRY APPROVES

Tim Curry in THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW: LET'S DO THE TIME WARP AGAIN (Steve Wilkie/FOX)

It’s always scary when someone wants to remake a classic. If you need any reason to have no fear about The Rocky Horror Picture Show, let it be that Curry himself gives the Fox film his blessing.

“I do, indeed,” Curry said when asked if he endorses the new film.

Curry has recovered from a stroke and still sits in a wheelchair, but he performed in the new Rocky Horror as the narrator. While rehearsing with the whole cast, Cox got Curry’s blessing personally.

“We had conversations our first day of rehearsal,” Cox said. “I sang every song from the movie that Frank-N-Furter sings in front of Tim. As we would go through the songs, I would ask him what some of his intentions or motivations and what he thought the moment was. He shared with me some of his thoughts on it. I don’t like to divulge everything we talked about.”

Ortega particularly remembered seeing Cox and Curry bond.

“I’ll never forget the first day of rehearsal,” Ortega said. “Laverne was standing at the piano and was getting ready to sing ‘Sweet Transvestite’ for the very, very first time. And Tim was sitting at the piano next to the pianist. When she finished, the first voice that came out was ‘Brava’ from Tim Curry. And that’s what we all felt throughout this entire experience working with Tim, his generosity, his wit, his charm, his elegance.”


2. THE ORIGINAL MUSIC GETS A TWIST

Fans have been singing the Rocky Horror Show songs since the original stage version’s 1973 preview performances. With weekly midnight performances of the movie since 1975, everyone knows what “Time Warp” and “Hot Patootie” sounds like. So the singers in this contemporary Rocky Horror are giving the classic songs a slight twist, so they sound the same, but new again.

Take, for instance, Justice’s perspective on the role made famous by now–well known film star Susan Sarandon.

“It was challenging as a singer, because I really had to tap into my falsetto more than I ever have before,” Justice said. “And I also wanted to push myself, because I wanted to find ad libs and things that were different and make it my own. That was actually a lot of fun. I wanted to keep the classic Janet voice where she kind of talks in this higher register, and it’s just a lot more sweet and saccharine in a lot of ways, but not copying her. So I think that was probably the biggest challenge is watching the movie and remembering certain things that I wanted to keep but then also forgetting the rest of it so I could be inspired on my own.”

Producer Lou Adler added that the music department, including his son Cisco Adler, produced new mixes of the classics. “What Kenny and I said in the beginning was be true to the original, but make it contemporary,” Adler said. “So there’s loops and samples, but it’s still the original music.”


3. COX HAS SERIOUS MUSICAL RANGE

If you only know Cox from acting, get ready to hear her sing. Orange Is the New Black hasn’t yet showcased these skills.

“She’s a force, five octave range, a degree in dance from a major university, acting her heart out in New York and studying for over 15 years, walking in and bringing something into the room that made us all realize there was no B plan,” Ortega said. “She had so much to give to it, a life experience, an incredible depth of talent, an enthusiasm, and a respect, an incredible respect for this film, all that has mattered. She was just an absolute joy. We knew it from the beginning that this was the person that gave us reason, really, raison d’être to make this movie.”


4. THEY’RE SINGING MORE WORDS THAN GLEE DID

L-R: Ryan McCartan, Laverne Cox and Victoria Justice in THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW: LET'S DO THE TIME WARP AGAIN (Steve Wilkie/FOX)

When Glee did its Rocky Horror tribute episode, the powers that be changed some of the lyrics that were considered risqué. For some reason, “Transsexual, Transylvania” was considered inappropriate and had to be changed to “Sensational Transylvania.” You still can’t say the F word on broadcast TV (the movie was rated R), but “Transsexual” is back.

“There were conversations about do we change this?” Cox said. “After my first conversation with Kenny Ortega, his vision for the film was what sold me. You cannot change the lyrics to an iconic song. You can’t. The term ‘transvestite’ is a term that’s antiquated. It’s not a term that we use anymore to describe any trans people I know, but in 1975 it was used in a very different way. So historically we want to honor that, and we want to honor this film that has been so iconic for so many people.”


5. THIS JANET IS A QUENTIN TARANTINO HEROINE

If you only know Justice from her Nickelodeon show Victorious, The Rocky Horror Picture Show can be a chance to see her grown up. Not only is she playing Janet, Brad’s chaste fiancée who has a sexual awakening with the creature Rocky, but she played the empowered sexuality like the heroine of a gritty, violent Tarantino film. Justice says you can hear it when she sings “Touch Me.”

“It has almost like a Quentin Tarantino, sexy kind of twang to it in the beginning, which is really fun,” Justice said. “I think I was able to throw in some new ad libs in there that was really cool for me. I did all kinds of fun stuff.”


 6. IT’S TIME FOR KIDS TO SEE ROCKY HORROR

1975 musical comedy 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show' right to left, actors Richard O'Brien, Tim Curry and Patricia Quinn as Riff Raff, Dr Frank-N-Furter and Magenta respectively (Movie Poster Image Art/Getty Images)

The original Rocky Horror Picture Show (pictured above in film poster) was rated R, but Justice admitted she saw it when she was 15. At 8 p.m. on Fox, kids younger than 15 will be able to witness the updated version, and Justice thinks that’s a good thing.

“I think if I was a parent, I’d totally be down to show my fifth grader,” Justice said. “I’d be like, ‘This is a classic. You need to know these songs. You need to get familiar with these characters. You need to know who Tim Curry is.’ And then we would watch the original after.”

Still, Justice respects your decision if you do not show your fifth grader Rocky Horror.

“I think that’s up to the parents to make that choice,” Justice said. “It is airing on Fox. Even though the story is the same, the script is the same, it isn’t anything so scandalous that it wouldn’t be able to air on network TV. So really I think that’s just up to the parents’ discretion if they are comfortable showing their kids.”


7. AND WATCH IT WITH THE WHOLE FAMILY

Not only does the cast of 2016’s Rocky Horror Picture Show encourage young viewers to see the film, but they should share it with the whole family. Gender identity and open sexuality are topics parents are encouraged to discuss with kids, and Rocky Horror may help give parents a good opening.

Justice recalled her mom taking her to that midnight show at age 15.

“Actually my mom has always introduced me to all different types of art ever since I was little,” Justice said. “She’s like a super-cool mom who’s on the cutting edge of things. So it was so much fun, but it was so funny because I was a virgin to seeing a Rocky Horror midnight show, they were aware of it. The shadow cast took red lipstick and put a big V on my head and they drew a penis on my friend Josh’s face. So it was pretty funny. Our moms were up for the ride though.”


8. COX IS LIVING PROOF ROCKY HORROR MATTERS

L-R: Christina Milian, Laverne Cox and Annaleigh Ashford in THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW: LET'S DO THE TIME WARP AGAIN (Steve Wilkie/FOX)

Cox has earned acclaim for the strides she’s made for trans acceptance. She’s broken down walls that stood in the way of trans actors in Hollywood, and it all goes back to The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The film was vital to Cox discovering who she is and having the courage to come out.

“When I was a college student and discovered The Rocky Horror Picture Show, the character that Tim created became a template for my own exploration of my identity,” Cox said. “Because of Tim and the version of that movie, ‘Don’t dream it, be it’ became a personal mantra. I’m being it right now.”


 9. THE CAST LEARNED HOW TO GET SEXY

THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW: LET'S DO THE TIME WARP AGAIN (Steve Wilkie/FOX)

The kind of sexuality on display is not easy for everyone to access. It takes some viewers many performances and many years to go all the way and dress in fishnets and high heels like Frank-N-Furter and his minions. Everyone can go full Rocky Horror in their own time, but the cast of this movie had to rehearse specifically to bring the sexuality to life.

“I think when I started rehearsals for this movie, we all really got in touch with the sexuality of it,” Justice said. “During our first day of rehearsal, Kenny had us all do an exercise together where we had to basically walk around the room with all the dancers and all the actors and make eye contact with different people. Then he would say, ‘Okay, melt.’ Then we’d have to go up to that person we’re next to and melt and drape all over them. I was a lot of fun.”


10. CARNEY LEARNED TO WALK IN HIGH HEELS

Reeve Carney as Riff Raff in THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW: LET'S DO THE TIME WARP AGAIN (Steve Wilkie/FOX)

Carney played a different kind of monster on Showtime’s Penny Dreadful. He was Dorian Gray, the man who could remain young while his portrait aged instead. In Rocky Horror he plays Riff Raff, the role originated by Rocky Horror creator Richard O’Brien. It turns out, Carney really liked Riff Raff’s high heels.

“I think any sort of obstacles, anything you have to fight against as an actor is generally a helpful thing,” Carney said. “So for me, having the heels was kind of cool. I really grew to love them, to be honest with you. I’d actually love to get a pair for myself to wear at home. They’re really comfortable. They were very form fitting to my foot. You did have to be careful when you go over to the side like that. You had to make sure you didn’t twist your ankle.”


11. THE AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION HAS BEEN WORKSHOPPED FOR 40 YEARS

THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW: LET'S DO THE TIME WARP AGAIN (Steve Wilkie/FOX)

Midnight screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show developed an audience participation component that became as famous as the film itself. Throw rice at the wedding scene. Call out answers to questions the characters ask. DVD and Blu-ray releases of the film have included audience participation recordings, but this film includes an audience in the film itself. They weren’t scripted, but the director still had to maintain some control.

“When we shot the film and we filled the theater with fans, we tried many things,” Ortega said. “We wanted to make sure the callbacks didn’t get in the way of telling a story but that celebrated the telling of a story. So together it was trial and error. We would try them, and we would say, ‘That one really works. That one really supports the story. That one kind of gets in the way and draws us back’ and found a way to balance the callbacks into the arc of our full story.”

While some fan groups tried to create a script that audiences around the world could follow, audience participation always became a sort of free for all. It’s hard to control a rowdy midnight crowd. The producers of Rocky Horror had final cut this time and chose the best audience participation moments.

“The callbacks are natural,” Adler said. “You can’t write them. As in the first one, it’s a space that was not left for a callback. Something in the dialogue or the visual just prompted the audience to either put on a hat when someone on the screen put on a hat or make a comment when Janet Weiss did. It’s just a purely natural sort of thing. You don’t write them, as we never did for the original.”

The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again airs Thursday, October 20 at 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. CT on Fox

Tag Cloud

Christmas Lionsgate asian-american A24 WGN social media 1990s Dark Horse Comics Cartoon Network french Animation FX on Hulu video crime drama golden globes Netflix Christmas movies superhero international game of thrones festival trailers rt archives remakes hollywood 4/20 2017 finale lord of the rings new zealand cancelled TV shows Lucasfilm Amazon Ellie Kemper theme song spanish language new york olympics Horror FOX NBA Columbia Pictures Hulu universal monsters rotten psycho Comics on TV Endgame adaptation Rocketman Pirates Trailer Writers Guild of America 2015 sitcom TIFF Crunchyroll Marvel Television VOD animated Fall TV Vudu Shudder singing competition Music YouTube FX Television Academy FXX dramedy Watching Series Winter TV Western cartoon MCU space saw video on demand Infographic women TV Land casting PBS SDCC Holidays Shondaland cops Martial Arts Tomatazos Sneak Peek harry potter a nightmare on elm street Disney+ Disney Plus Photos Musicals halloween tv Creative Arts Emmys Amazon Prime unscripted jurassic park golden globe awards Best and Worst BET Holiday football Warner Bros. laika Biopics discovery AMC blockbusters new star wars movies best Disney Channel Pride Month festivals Travel Channel Family Adult Swim Masterpiece Tumblr blaxploitation PlayStation Sundance E! heist movie dragons facebook based on movie American Society of Cinematographers elevated horror Peacock Mary Poppins Returns TNT reviews TLC Fox Searchlight 2016 Summer TV Legendary television Reality Competition LGBT dogs TCA Winter 2020 Sundance Now popular scorecard GoT mockumentary italian Captain marvel Television Critics Association Fox News PaleyFest boxoffice ViacomCBS dc RT21 Amazon Prime Video sequels Food Network ratings cancelled television spanish E3 Cannes Interview Crackle The Walking Dead mission: impossible Avengers suspense Paramount NYCC Image Comics MSNBC Quiz Classic Film justice league 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Mary poppins travel crime thriller what to watch prank Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Syfy Comic Book 007 Comic-Con@Home 2021 Box Office Apple TV Plus sequel Extras Pacific Islander series Tarantino Lifetime Christmas movies Pop ghosts toy story Sci-Fi live action BAFTA indiana jones vampires DirecTV Awards Tour 72 Emmy Awards Reality renewed TV shows politics independent teaser medical drama Mystery First Look Nominations First Reviews crossover emmy awards GLAAD richard e. Grant talk show National Geographic Stephen King breaking bad Academy Awards hidden camera ITV Apple TV+ TV movies Drama concert rotten movies we love crime A&E Black Mirror Musical christmas movies biography Star Trek name the review Hallmark spy thriller green book CNN comics Funimation south america political drama hist Paramount Plus The Walt Disney Company Podcast ID Marathons composers films toronto TCA Awards versus Awards CBS All Access mutant 45 book dark Valentine's Day miniseries criterion pirates of the caribbean Mindy Kaling cancelled TV series book adaptation tv talk Pop TV Showtime screen actors guild all-time OWN comiccon Calendar Spike Paramount Network Ovation Tokyo Olympics NBC dceu Year in Review Winners Turner Classic Movies Premiere Dates nbcuniversal Cosplay canceled indie 93rd Oscars nature legend Comedy Heroines spain DGA Countdown razzies Britbox zombie black stand-up comedy streaming Polls and Games Arrowverse HBO Max anime Amazon Studios parents monster movies psychological thriller Superheroes TV One comic 99% YA docuseries Disney streaming service cars king kong halloween movies The CW Spectrum Originals 2019 YouTube Red disaster twilight Baby Yoda Mary Tyler Moore binge romantic comedy SXSW japanese true crime TCA Esquire cults Emmy Nominations TV renewals 21st Century Fox japan revenge nfl cooking Red Carpet Epix deadpool aliens WarnerMedia hispanic DC Comics children's TV venice archives Marvel Song of Ice and Fire comic books 2020 classics romance doctor who natural history Character Guide Mudbound transformers quibi New York Comic Con game show franchise godzilla high school Emmys boxing worst Sundance TV The Witch Spring TV The Arrangement CMT kaiju batman Schedule ESPN joker kids science fiction Country HBO DC streaming service Trivia Black History Month BBC Chernobyl james bond DC Universe slashers kong BBC America ABC Signature Grammys die hard Hear Us Out Trophy Talk Disney Plus Pixar basketball war supernatural documentaries HBO Go chucky Super Bowl The Purge Rock reboot witnail sag awards Netflix Discovery Channel President TCM marvel cinematic universe cats Apple rom-coms 90s Comedy Central CW Seed Ghostbusters child's play critics Video Games IFC Films blockbuster scary movies jamie lee curtis TBS technology Oscars satire know your critic australia cancelled Turner news superman VICE Elton John sports APB Sony Pictures Disney werewolf documentary scene in color See It Skip It History 24 frames fast and furious TCA 2017 Marvel Studios Thanksgiving king arthur Anna Paquin Freeform latino Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Exclusive Video adventure Broadway cinemax Rom-Com spider-man Wes Anderson award winner Rocky The Academy streaming movies anthology telelvision Universal Teen 2018 Starz USA Network SundanceTV MTV Opinion diversity Film Festival Certified Fresh zombies screenings docudrama Action 2021 foreign robots CBS strong female leads thriller period drama worst movies stoner Kids & Family obituary Film LGBTQ target Superheroe BBC One YouTube Premium Walt Disney Pictures VH1 Brie Larson aapi Nickelodeon Tubi directors Logo San Diego Comic-Con Fantasy Lifetime USA 20th Century Fox canceled TV shows GIFs spinoff Binge Guide adenture ABC BET Awards free movies Set visit Hallmark Christmas movies IFC historical drama Election police drama Star Wars X-Men Bravo 71st Emmy Awards Toys zero dark thirty Pet Sematary Women's History Month Acorn TV serial killer Nat Geo Alien OneApp ABC Family TruTV El Rey stop motion comedies wonder woman RT History fresh movie