DIAZ ON SONG IN CLASSIC
After singing at her worst in My Best Friend’s Wedding, Cameron Diaz has looked to improve her rep in the remake of classic musical Annie
When Cameron Diaz was first approached about playing the drunken, mean-spirited Miss Hannigan in the newly minted version of Annie, she says she was “fairly worried” that she’d have to sing on screen again.
The last time she was seen belting out a tune on screen was in 1997’s My Best Friend’s Wedding – and she was hilariously off key.
“I mean, everyone knows how bad I was in My Best Friend’s Wedding,” she groans.
“But to be fair to myself, that was a version of my voice – the karaoke version – and this is another version of my voice. I’m hoping it’s slightly better.”
Diaz’s co-star Jamie Foxx quickly jumps to her defence.
“She’s being too harsh on herself,” says Foxx, who plays billionaire phone mogul Will Stacks in the film (the updated 2014 version of Daddy Warbucks). “She’s a good singer!”
Diaz points back to her grinning co-star and adds: “It’s easy for him to say. He’s a musical genius.
“On My Best Friend’s Wedding, I made it the worst I could and on this, I made it the best that I could. I don’t think I can get any worse and I don’t think I can get any better.”
The film also has a healthy Australian involvement; Rose Byrne stars as Stacks’ loyal VP Grace, while Sia (who also has a cameo in the film) worked behind the scenes updating the songs musically and lyrically for a more contemporary audience.
Both Foxx and Diaz say they’re hugely impressed by the Aussie superstar. “She’s fantastic,” says Foxx, enthusiastically. “She’s really catching her stride, and she’s having such a moment. I think it made the film look better to have a true songwriter behind it giving us those jewels.”
Diaz and Foxx are paired together in New York to talk about their latest update on the classic story of orphan Annie (played with remarkable poise by 11-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis).
At 42, Diaz says she doesn’t remember the original 1970s musical, but has very specific memories of the 1982 film. “Oh, I remember the original movie. I was around in the 1982s,” she says. “I was the audience they were shooting for, so I do remember it.”
Foxx’s introduction to Annie came not through the original film or musical, but via Jay Z’s version of Hard Knock Life (the rapper – along with Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith – is among the film’s producers).
Given he had no preconceived notion on how to play the role, Foxx found inspiration in his good mate Sean Combs.
“He’s such an entrepreneur and he’s bigger than life,” says Foxx. “And he’s able to have art and commerce at the same time. I’ve spent time with him personally, but when he’s with his kids, it’s a different muscle. He’s a different person, so that’s how I saw Stacks evolving.”
On the other hand, for Diaz, trying to compete with Carol Burnett’s iconic performance in the 1982 film was impossible.
“I tried not to put that on myself – it doesn’t serve me. It’s not very good to go to work every day going, ‘Am I good enough?’” Instead she played the character as a bitter, failed pop star.
“My Hannigan is more contemporary in the way that she looks to be validated by millions of people, and by being famous.” Diaz saw the role as a way to make a comment on our celebrityobsessed culture.
“It’s an epidemic in our society – that we feel like we’re not validated if we’re not seen by millions of people,” she says.
“We balance our self-worth on how many ‘likes’ we get.”
Foxx and Diaz agree that the overriding message in Annie is in examining a generation more technologically connected than ever before, but burdened by so much emotional isolation and loneliness.
“I don’t like social media. I tried it, and it’s just not my instinct to tell people what I’m doing, and it’s not my instinct to look and see what other people are doing,” says Diaz, who’s clearly used to scrutiny.
(Indeed, she’s currently swatting off persistent online rumours that she’s engaged to Benji Madden. For the record, she is wearing a diamond ring on her engagement finger, but she won’t talk about it).
“Nobody really needs to know what I’m having for dinner,” she says.
Quvenzhane Wallis in a scene from the film