By Caffeinated Clint.
I’ve a confession to make: My first crush (besides the one I had on a web-doused portrait) was on Lori Singer.
Yes, Lori Singer. You all recognize the name, right? In fact, I’d say more than a few of you are already humming a Kenny Loggins song.
Yep, Lori Singer was the female lead of “Footloose” (1984) – the beautiful, carefree, truck-dodging Ariel. She not only her worked magic on Mr. Ants in his pants, Ren (Kevin Bacon), Singer had the audience hoping for a duet. She, quite simply, was – here comes one of my typically daggy puns- Almost Paradise.
I had the pleasure of catching up with Lori Singer this week to chat about the legendary “Footloose” – and whether or not she minded a 12-year-old dedicating love songs to her on the local AM radio station. Afterwards, she let me compete for her in a tractor race.
Aside from Olivia Newton-John, I think you were one of my first screen crushes. I take it you’ve likely heard that a billion times? How does it make you feel to know you captured the hearts of so many young pre-teen males with your performance in “Footloose”?
Short answer: wow, yes, I am honoured to have captured! their hearts! We had a singular, and an explosive array of talent: Herb Ross, Dianne Wiest John Lithgow, Kevin Bacon Chris Penn, Jim Youngs, Ric Waite as cinematographer, and editor Paul Hirsch, and of course Kenny Loggins. All the other actors were carefully handpicked by Herb. In terms of attention from my acting in Footloose…I am always tremendously honoured by people’s appreciation of Ariel’s wild ways that I had the opportunity to portray with gusto and yes, we were all surprised that critics like Pauline Kael and the fans liked Footloose so much.
Were you Ariel?
Uh, I had quite a bit of my own rebellion to draw on.
So how did you end up in the film?
Everyone in Hollywood was auditioning for that “Paramount Pictures wild-girl” role. I was on hiatus from a TV show, and in London doing a stage show, singing and dancing – we were selling out Royal Albert Hall. The show was Fame. For the final Footloose audition I flew an endless – it seemed – flight back to L A from London. I woke up that next morning, went for a run, and auditioned that day at noon in front of 20 Paramount executives for the role. I read five scenes. It was my 5th meeting with the director, against thousands of actress, some standing at the Paramount stage as I went in. I then flew back to England to join the Fame tour.
When did you find out you had the part?
I found out I the Footloose part in the middle of the night, with a huge bouquet of flowers send to me by Herb Ross, Dean (Pitchford) and Craig (Zadan), and I was so excite that I ran at one in morning to wake up Debbie Allen and she agreed to release me early from our Fame show. I missed out going to Israel, where they performed. I did that evening’s Fame show then I flew back to Hollywood where they had just decided on Kevin [Bacon] to play Ren. Kevin told me that the producers had kept him up an entire night with a hairdresser earlier in the week before his final audition getting his haircut just perfect for the character. He was still getting used to it. He looked great, he embodied Ren and I started calling him that from the moment I met him.
But didn’t you have to meet him at the auditions?
The first time I met Kevin I was way high up on a platform in a Paramount soundstage talking with a dancer. Kevin strode in with the director, the director pointed me out, and Kevin looked up and waved. I remember when I walked over to meet Kevin, that he and I maintained eye-contact almost the whole walk. The director, Herbert Ross, and Kevin and I then went to a Paramount rehearsal room to have a sandwich and talk. Kevin and I liked each other – I think – instantaneously.
So the chemistry was there from the get-go?
Kevin and I had a charged rapport from the moment we met. We had a wonderful time on the set, and as in the movie, we get to know each other, so in real life we also used that process on film, so that our discoveries were real. The entire process felt very organic, as if we were just living it.
As soon as you hear the theme song, or one of the other tracks (‘Almost Paradise’ etc), on radio do the memories of working on the film immediately come flowing back? And are they good ones?
Every time I hear the song Footloose, I oddly feel a surge of rebellion, and at the same time I feel good. Kevin and I had a powerful connection and experience while filming. The fact that our love of the experience of growing up, and being rebellious, was captured on film was astounding. Later on, that our – seemingly intimate- message of exuberance and struggle translated to a world audience beyond our own safe little Provo (Utah) set was startling. Footloose seemed to have shared our true to life experiences and that reality fused with film.
What about when you hear Almost Paradise?
When I hear Almost Paradise I think of the two of us when Ariel shows Ren the train, and when Ariel gives Ren the music box. Those two moments kind of flash languidly across my brain as somewhere that song comes on. Often after I have been in a dance club or a store for a while someone puts some song from Footloose on. I always appreciate it actually, it used to make me feel like we should still be filming, and that’s what I wanted. Its fun hearing Footloose played at sporting events, it seems to always whip the crowd up into overdrive!
Though were also wonderful in the underrated horror flick “Warlock”, and Ken Friedman’s “Made in U.S.A.”, you’d pretty much forever be known as ‘The Footloose girl’. Did it bother you? What about now?
People seem to also know me from Bob Altman’s “Shortcuts”, or John Schlesinger’s “Falcon and the Snowman”, and recently, for some reason – likely because they were both re-issued recently, I’m recognized from the Mickey Rourke film and VR5, but ok, ok, yes, you’re right, it’s mostly Footloose people get very excited with me about. I’m proud to be that rebel forever, it reminds me to carry that spirit with me. That experience blends with the reality of that time, and is always a part of my life.
What do you think of their plans to remake “Footloose”?
I heard they are going to ask me to take part. I would be honoured to do so.
That would be great. And how about you follow up the “Footloose” remake with a role in one of our next films?
Talk to my agent. No, really. Talk to my Lawyer. Um, Ok, talk to me baby – I’m a good listener!.Sounds good. I also recently accepted a lead in a romantic comedy. We start shooting this fall. The script is very funny.