BY Alonso Duralde
October 14 2009 6:00 AM ET
I can only imagine all the footage you had to cull through -- we see the
people vying to play a handful characters in the show, and I imagine
you could have told similar stories for all 20 or so roles.
over 400 hours of footage, so once we had that we had to construct
story lines for certain characters. But we went in knowing that certain
characters in that play resonate stronger than others. So we knew we
definitely wanted to focus on the Val character [the “Dance: Ten; Looks: Three” girl who sings about getting “tits and ass”], Paul [the gay guy],
[veteran dancer] Cassie -- those characters we tended to follow in the
audition process all the way throughout, heavy-handed with our cameras
for those roles that were most present in the play.
Jim obviously has a deep theater background. How familiar were you with this world going into the project?
was familiar with it but not nearly as familiar with it as Jim. I don’t
have a pedigree in theater. I’m much younger than Jim, so I think I was 4 when A Chorus Line first landed on Broadway. But Jim and I had
directed two films before, The Year of the Yao and ...So Goes the Nation,
so we’re very comfortable as directing partners working together. My
familiarity was, I grew up in Phoenix, and my mother and sister liked
Broadway musicals and would play [the cast album] around the house, and
I had seen it when it was touring when I was younger with my family.
think my strength was that it hopefully ended up being a film that
could be enjoyed by audience members that weren’t so familiar with [A
Chorus Line]. We tried to hit that perfect balance after many, many
months of trying to make that perfect film. I was definitely playing
the part of someone who wasn’t so inside that world.
had unprecedented access to a Broadway audition. And obviously, you’re
dealing with a generation who have come up on reality TV and are more
comfortable on camera, but was there anyone who said, “I don’t want you
to film my audition”?
Ninety-nine-point-nine percent of the
people were comfortable with it. I’d say out of the 3,000 people who
auditioned, I could count on both hands the people who wouldn’t sign
the release. But of all the characters that we followed in those
auditions, there were no issues with those performers. Equity just had
us explain to everyone what was happening and to let them know they had
the right to sign or not to sign. There was no friction whatsoever. You
mention reality TV -- we were also aware of the popularity of American
Idol and how big that show is. Quite honestly, we didn’t want this to
feel like the American Idol auditions, but ultimately, what Michael
created is so resonant and timeless that it wasn’t an issue.