Renee Zellweger
Renee Zellweger

Sam Rockwell watched Renée Zellweger in 'Chicago' While Studying Bob Fosse

Aside from both being Oscar-winning actors, Sam Rockwell and Renée Zellweger also have something else in common: they each have a close connection to the legendary choreographer and director Bob Fosse. While Zellweger became a breakout star with her role in the film adaptation of Fosse’s musical “Chicago,” Rockwell now plays the choreographer in FX’s dramatic new series “Fosse/Verdon.”

During the pair’s Actors on Actors conversation, Zellweger said filming the musical was “Broadway bootcamp.” Although the dances in the film were adapted from Fosse’s original choreography, the actress said choreography and directing partners Rob Marshall and John DeLuca brought many of their long-time Broadway dance partners to set to help keep the essence seen on-stage. “[Rob] took Fosse and expanded on it. But there was a lot of the original vocabulary incorporated into the choreography,” she said.

Rockwell, who plays Fosse in the new FX series, is still getting used to the intense rehearsal schedules of a real dancer, and joked about the cramps he gets from long practices. “Did it beat you up? Did you get those cramps in the middle of the night?” he joked to Zellweger.

“We didn’t have the middle of the night. We just kind of worked around the clock,” she laughed. “I didn’t realize what a blessing it was until now.

“I just remember joy, it was just joyful,” she continued. “I know we were working hard but it didn’t feel like work.”

The two went on to sing the praises of dancers everywhere after working closely with some of the best choreographers in the country.

“I mean [John and Rob] have been doing it for so long that it’s just second nature to them. What fun to be around that.”

Rockwell agreed, saying “They walk away and seem like normal people but these dancers are like superheroes. And they don’t complain they’re soldiers.”

“Actors on Actors” will air on PBS June 18 and 20.

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