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

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - MOVIES - TIF­FANY BAKKER

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

An­nie.

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