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Julianne Hough Discusses 'Burlesque'


Julianne Hough in 'Burlesque.'

Julianne Hough in 'Burlesque.'

© Screen Gems
Julianne Hough started out as a dancer but always intended to add acting in feature films to her resume. With Burlesque, the big screen newcomer is able to combine both talents while starring alongside Cher, Christina Aguilera, Stanley Tucci, and Cam Gigandet.

Hough broke onto the scene on the ABC reality series Dancing with the Stars and after putting in a couple of seasons on that popular show, she showed off her vocal skills with a country album. Now she's getting the opportunity to sing, dance, and act in a major studio release, thanks to writer/director Steve Antin.

"I’d seen Julianne on Dancing with the Stars and fell in love with her,” explained Antin. “I thought she was somebody really special and an incredible dancer, and drop-dead beautiful. She had something about her. She had that ‘It’ factor."

At the Los Angeles press day for the Screen Gems PG-13 musical, Hough provided a look behind the scenes at her feature film acting debut.

On landing a role in Burlesque:

Julianne Hough: "I grew up singing, dancing and acting and I just had the opportunity to be on a dance show and so I went along with it - but I’ve always wanted to sing and act. So, yeah, the crazy thing is Dancing with the Stars really gave me so many opportunities because Steven Antin is the one that saw me on the show and a couple of seasons later… Christina and I have the same manager and when they were talking to Christina about this they said , 'Well, you know Julianne is one of [the possibilities].' 'No way, we love her. Can you have her come in and talk with us?' So, I came in and they’re like, 'Well, which character did you like?' I’m like, 'Well, Georgia is sweet and Nikki is cool.' They’re like, 'If you had to choose?' I’m like, 'Well, Georgia is cool.” No pressure. I can kind of just have fun with it. It’s a first movie. They’re like, 'Okay, she’s yours. You can have her.' Well, that doesn’t usually happen very often."

"I got to do that and they kind of just trusted me. I mean, working with Cher and Stanley Tucci for your first movie doesn’t usually happen every day. It’s pretty cool."

On absorbing life on a film set and learning the ropes:

Julianne Hough: "It was a role where I could really kind of sit back and kind of learn and ask questions and not feel like I should know this, you know what I mean? So, certain things I was like completely oblivious on. I would ask questions. I would learn about it, so when I walked on to Footloose it was like, 'I got this.' Now I can just focus on the performance and not be so worried about, 'Oh, which way should my face be turning?' That stuff really helped me being able to learn. I mean, so many great actors are in this that I got to really learn from them and how great they are."

On transitioning from dancing on stage to dancing in a movie musical:

Julianne Hough: "It’s crazy. You know, I mean, dancing on the show is like all live so I had that kind of [attitude], 'All right, I go on for five minutes and I’m done. It’s over.' And then being on set in a movie you do it, it’s 17,000 times and you look at the movie when it’s all cut together and you’re like, 'Oops, I remember that. That was at the beginning of the day and that was definitely at the end because you can see...' Then you know just being in a musical it’s just…I don’t know. There’s something about musicals that are so, I think, just invigorating for people to watch, for people to join in."

On her first impression of Cher and Christina Aguilera:

Julianne Hough: "Well, I was idolizing Christina when I was growing up so when I met her I was just so excited. I got to go to her house with Kristen Bell and go and sing in her studio and it was like, 'Is this happening for me? This is insane.' Then Cher, the scene that we do in the bathroom our kind of one-on-one scene, it was the first scene in the movie that I done. So, first scene ever for a movie I've ever done and it’s with Cher. I’m so intimidated. I’m like full out going and we’re in rehearsal crying and I’m trying my hardest. So by the time my close up comes, I’m like, 'I have no more tears in this body.'"

"She’s great. She knows exactly what to say to you to kind of boost you up."

So, what did Cher say?:

Julianne Hough: "Well if I told you I’d probably get in trouble by her and many other people because it’s very inappropriate. Basically, it was like saying that I desire to be here and basically she said stuff that is not only to help me for that moment of that scene but for future projects, films, music or whatever."

On watching Cher on the big screen:

Julianne Hough: "I remember watching Mermaids and that was probably my first kind of real encounter of who Cher was because I’m 22 years old. But you know, I went to her concert when I think Cyndi Lauper was opening up for her in Utah. I remember just like the costume changes and everything. So, I obviously knew Cher and I knew her accomplishments and I knew what she’s done. She’s done everything, and I worked with her and it was cool. You just kind of get to know somebody and hang out and then I went and saw her show in Vegas afterwards, and I was literally blown away. Kristen Bell and I were texting each other from two rows apart. Like, 'Oh my gosh, we just did a movie with Cher! How bad ass are we? This is awesome.' So, it was pretty cool."

On the rehearsal process for Burlesque:

Julianne Hough: "The dancers, they started rehearsing in late August of last year and we starting shooting in November. I was touring and so I couldn’t come in until like the middle of October. So, I had a couple weeks to learn everything. I mean, that’s just how my life is. It’s crazy. Even if I have time somehow I’ve just figured out to where I’m like rushing and jamming it all in at one time. I like it that way though. It puts me under pressure and I love a challenge. I love feeling like there is pressure."

On Cher and Christina Aguilera behind the scenes:

Julianne Hough: "I mean what gets projected is that they’re divas. You know what I mean? And they definitely have the right to be. I mean, they’re fantastic and sometimes people think of divas as a negative term and in actual fact it’s like the true diva is Cher. She’s so dramatic and the costume changes - and she started it all. You know what I mean? Then Christina, she is so fierce but when she’s up on stage she is born to entertain. She’s so captivating when you watch her. So, when you meet her and Cher it’s like you already have that picture there and they do, they hold themselves very, very high. They’re very empowering, you know, but then you get to kind of see past that. And then what I was saying about Cher earlier is how she is so down to earth and she treats the crew and the cast so wonderful and makes you feel so special and really engages in you. I think that’s why people are legends and icons because they have their talent and they have their success in what they do, but nobody becomes a legend by becoming a total brat... Maybe, but more so the other way."

On changing up her hair color:

Julianne Hough: "Yeah, it was fun. What I found is when I was a redhead in Burlesque I felt like a super vixen. You know what I mean? And then like this brown hair, I feel kind of a little bit more like not conservative but a little bit more like put together and a little younger. Then with my blonde hair I just feel really bubbly and crazy. So, it is kind of fun how hair color kind of changes your persona."

The makeup and costumes of Burlesque:

Julianne Hough: "I loved it. I mean, I was kind of used to that stuff. That’s what was so great about having this be my first movie and transitioning into the film role was just that I kind of got to have my dancing as a comfort zone, and then we had the eyelashes and the clothes - it was kind of second nature to me. I mean, a little less clothing. I remember that last outfit. It was like chains and they had to like clamp the chains to your body and like around you. There was no going to the bathroom that day! Like, Olivia Newton John in Grease when we talked about her little pants - that same thing."

On scenes that didn't make the final film:

Julianne Hough: "There was a lot, I think, that definitely got cut out of the movie just as far as time. It was a two hour movie already and there was a lot cut out. Even the dance numbers, there was a lot of cutting and splicing and all that stuff. So, there was a lot. I was like, “Oh, it’s okay. First movie, it’s all good.'"

On what we might see on the DVD:

Julianne Hough: "I think you would see around the clock a lot more and just kind of as her belly is growing and growing and growing, and more interaction with Christina’s character and with the other dancers and with Cher."

One dance number didn't make the cut:

Julianne Hough: "There was a number. It was 'Something’s Got a Hold On Me,' which was the first song Christina sings and we had a whole number choreographed to that. I think [Steve Antin used it] to like show bits and pieces from this club, but not really knowing it’s a club and then to this where she’s singing. But, we had this whole number and it was my favorite number and the best costume."

"The dance was in it, but it was like when there was a scene going on they were in the background and it was to completely different music, like some just random Burlesque sound music. So, that was my favorite number that we did. Then 'Diamonds are a Girls Best Friend,' there was a lot that was cut out of that but it was still great."

On the possibility of acting with her brother, Derek:

Julianne Hough: "Yeah, I think so. I mean, it would be really fun. I think there was some talk about the Hansel and Gretel movie or something, and there is some talk about that but we decided not to go there."

And speaking of her brother, will he win Dancing with the Stars?:

Julianne Hough: "I don’t know. I mean, it’s so crazy. I can’t believe Bristol Palin is still in. So, I mean the way that the show is it’s all about the fans and voting. So, hell she could win the whole thing, you know?"

Based on what?:

Julianne Hough: "Based on her dancing. She’s a sweet girl. I mean, I haven’t met her but you can tell like she’s very sweet and timid and stuff. Definitely based on her dancing."

On future plans and kicking some butt:

Julianne Hough: "I hope to just continue what I’m doing. I hope to release more records and I want to do more films, not necessarily musicals or dance movies. I really want to start getting into more dramas or action, kick some booty because I love extreme sports by the way. Like, I snowboard, wakeboard, and skydive. I shoot guns. So, I’m totally into that thing too."

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Burlesque hits theaters on November 24, 2010.

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