It was a night of celebration for the cast of the Disney-produced musical “Into The Woods,” at the world premiere at the Ziegfield on Monday.
Director Rob Marshall’s adaptation of the Tony Award-winning Stephen Sondheim musical starring Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, Anna Kendrick and Johnny Depp received praise from press and industry execs just hours after the film was honored by the American Film Institute as one of the top 11 movies of the year.
According to the cast, bringing the hit 1987 Broadway musical to the big screen has been rewarding, but a challenge. For Streep, donning prosthetics and yellow talons to play The Witch was no easy task.
“When I put the talons on — that was it for the day,” she told Variety. “I couldn’t run my fingers through my hair, I couldn’t get a moat out of my eye, I couldn’t do anything. I had to get my dresser to go to the ladies room because I couldn’t undo anything for 12 hours.”
The costume may have been uncomfortable to wear, but managing the twisted fairy tale’s $50 million budget was a hurdle for producer John DeLuca.
“We really respected the studio so every day it was cutting back on things,” he said. “We pushed Rob telling him that’s enough takes and we’d say we can’t do this scene or we have to squeeze in everything in a certain day. That was really the hardest.”
Blunt said she was reluctant to audition for the role because of her nerves to sing in front of others. But she conquered her fear and was prepared to tackle Sondheim’s intricate lyrics.
“Stephen Sondheim’s music is musically complex and emotionally profound,” she said. “You sort of have to keep up with it and these are songs that arrest you and make you follow these characters. These are not those songs that wash over an audience and all you do is listen so you have to do your best to keep up.”
Kendrick agreed. She had to discipline herself to prepare for the challenge. “I was basically like living like an OCD soldier,” she said. “I locked myself in my apartment and warmed up all day for my recording session. I had the sheet music plastered across the wall like in ‘A Beautiful Mind.’ It’s just such challenging music and we were so desperate to honor Stephen Sondheim so I went a little crazy for a while. But I think it all paid off.”
The cast was introduced on stage at the screening, and Sondheim received a standing ovation.
The afterparty continued at the Edison Ballroom.