Kristin Chenoweth has an eye for authenticity — in movies, in other people, even in herself.
“I’m very sensitive,” says the actress, who made her name in “Wicked” on Broadway and has shone in TV and film as well. Even looking at footage of her on-camera appearances, she’ll say “Oh, I was having a hard day that day. I remember.” So what moves Chenoweth about her “Behind the Makeup” movies is the authenticity beneath the artifice.
In the documentary “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” for example, she says “I thought the film captured her for real. I thought they got her heart. And whether you think it’s real or not, I happen to have believed that that heart was real.” That heart, she says, includes an ahead-of-its time appeal for her evangelical audience to accept gay men with AIDS. “‘We of all people … How can we?’” Chenoweth recalls Tammy Faye saying, “and she cried, and I believe the tears were real.”
Chenoweth, a Broadway baby, sees another kind of authenticity in “Chicago,” thanks to its director. “I was very happy that Rob Marshall was the director of ‘Chicago,’ because he is from my world,” says Chenoweth. For her, Marshall is a creative heir to Bob Fosse, a Broadway legend who made great film musicals, including “All That Jazz.” “Rob Marshall took a very good musical and made it fabulous,” she says. “He is a choreographer. He knew to cut to a knee, to cut to a foot. Bob Fosse would’ve loved this movie. I think the king would’ve loved the prince.”
In “Strictly Ballroom,” she says, she loves the authenticity that comes from dancing that isn’t perfect. “You can see that most of these actors are not dancers, and they’re just going for it. I also loved that the lead character got to grow and gain confidence through movement, through dance, which is what ‘Dirty Dancing’ is so beloved for.” She credits “Strictly Ballroom” with paving the way for “Dancing With the Stars,” which also features non-dancers tripping the light fantastic.
“It’s authentic. Again, when you do your truth it might not be for everybody, but it’s your truth. So you can’t really get killed for it.”
To watch Chenoweth’s “Behind the Makeup” films, “The Eyes of Tammy Faye,” “Chicago,” and “Strictly Ballroom,”* and other movies like these, start your Tribeca Shortlist free, seven-day trial here.
*Titles subject to availability