Backstage With… The stars of Cinderella on modernising the classic fairytale
Written by Hitmix News on 4 September 2021
As Cinderella stories go, Camila Cabello’s is a good one.
After initially failing to make it as a solo singer on American Idol, she was then chosen to become part of Fifth Harmony – the girl group that went on to become hugely successful producing three hit albums and winning a variety of awards.
Cabello then went on to leave the group at the end of 2016 and proved herself as a solo artist.
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Now she’s turning her attention to another Cinderella, making her film debut playing the title character in the latest adaptation of the fairytale – which this time is brought up to date and told through a modern lens, with our lead more interested in her career than finding love, and her step family no longer burdened with being “wicked” or “ugly”.
While we’re used to seeing Cabello on TV in videos and doing performances, she told Sky News’ Backstage podcast that it wasn’t easy to get to grips with a whole new medium.
“Acting in a movie is so much more raw and unfiltered than when I’m doing a performance on TV,” the star explained.
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“First of all, a lot less makeup, which at first I [found] scary, and I think that there’s a big surrender that comes with films and a lot of trust, like trusting the director.
“That is different than music where it’s a little bit more kind of rigid and controlled and you present yourself in this one way.”
Cabello said that in order to concentrate on her part, rather than the crew and cameras around her, she would focus on what the film is trying to say.
Image: Idina Menzel (middle) plays Ella’s step-mother. Pic: Amazon Studios
“It is so intimate – I think the challenge is being really present with who you’re talking to and forgetting that the camera’s there, which can be difficult,” she said.
“I just kept thinking of from the perspective of like a young girl, watching this and how growing up, watching these fairytales, you kind of subconsciously internalise a lot of these messages, and I think these are good messages that are going to be subconsciously internalised.”
Stage legend and Frozen star Idina Menzel plays her mother – but it’s not the traditional evil stepmother, hellbent on murder and revenge.
Instead her character Vivian is portrayed as a victim herself.
Menzel told Sky News’ Backstage podcast she was excited to be able to bring a non-traditional approach the character and to “be a part of something where it’s like taking the sledgehammer to the patriarchy”, but that she does think children’s stories are generally improving in terms of their content.
“Being someone that’s been in some of these fairytales, fairytales that I think, in the last couple of years are really trying to make a difference and make change and be responsible in that way,” she said.
Image: British comedians Romesh Ranganathan, James Acaster and James Corden play the mice. Pic: Amazon Studios
“So this is just another chapter, definitely many steps forward.”
Pose star Billy Porter plays the film’s version of the Fairy Godmother – Fab G – in a role he seems perfect for, yet it’s not something he could ever have dreamed of doing when he was younger.
He said it feels like a reward for choosing to be his authentic self – despite it being very difficult for him.
“Everybody talks about be yourself, be yourself, be authentic, be yourself, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah – it’s easy to be who you are when what you are is what’s popular,” he said.
“Who I am was not popular for the majority of my life, I just crossed over less than a decade ago, I’m just having this kind of success now, and it’s because I chose myself all those decades ago.
“I went through all the stuff that you go through when you are ‘the othered’, when you are the thing that nobody wants, I lived in that space for a very long time, and so to live long enough to see this evolution, to see this transition just, it blows my mind.”
Image: Minnie Driver and Pierce Brosnan (middle) add some Hollywood star power to the film. Pic: Amazon Studios
Director and writer Kay Cannon said she wouldn’t have been interested in retelling the story of Cinderella it if she couldn’t have made the changes that she did.
“Because I think so many great tellings have already been done, there’s been so many wonderful, amazing versions,” she said.
“To me, it was like if I wasn’t going to modernise it and change it, then why do it at all? You know, I really want the audience to experience something different.”
Cinderella is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video now. Hear our review in the latest episode of Backstage – the film and TV podcast from Sky News.