The new musical film Nine marries song and dance numbers set to a dramatic narrative.
Director Rob Marshall and the creative team behind the Oscar-winning film adaptation of Broadway’s Chicago, united to reinvent Federico Fellini’s 1963 tour de force, 8 1/2. Reminiscent of Bob Fosse’s All that Jazz, Nine weaves together performances from the imaginative mind of fictional film director Guido Contini with the story of his unraveling life.
The film immerses the audience with an indulgent pageantry of illusion, unable to distinguish Guido’s life from his film—the creations of his fanciful mind. But like the Frankenstein story, the creation eventually turns on the creator. Guido is deeply conflicted between the moral compass of his Catholic faith and his indulgent lifestyle, as the characters descend into the pain and destruction of insatiable desire.
The cast of luminaries are Daniel Day-Lewis as Guido, Penélope Cruz, Marion Cotillard, Kate Hudson, Nicole Kidman, Sophia Loren, Stacy (Fergie) Ferguson, and Judi Dench.
Addressing a packed theater at the Archlight, in Los Angeles, before the film’s official release, producer Harvey Weinstein spoke about the film and then answered audience questions.
When asked if there was much ego wrangling and managing with a cast of so many stars, Weinstein answered, “It was incredible. There were no divas. Sophia Loren was like royalty there, when she walked on set. She is so majestic; we all behaved.” He made note to include himself—notorious for a reputation of contentious conduct.
“We behaved in deference to Sophia. Everyone was completely without ego.”
In regard to production, Weinstein described the labor-intensive shoot that became nine months of work abroad. Most of the scenes were shot in England where the dedicated cast rehearsed rigorously for 3 months with choreographers.
Weinstein explained that many of the women came with considerable talent, singling out the dance abilities of Kate Hudson, one of only two of the principal cast members without an Oscar.
Weinstein specifically chose Fergie, the other principal cast member without an Oscar, because of her pop culture appeal. Though she’s not in the Oscar club, she’s been showered with numerous awards as a solo musician and as a member of the band Black Eyed Peas. In Nine, she sings in a colorful cabaret number that is juxtaposed to black and white images, conjuring up the 1963 original film.
“She knocked it out of the ball park,” says Weinstein of Fergie.
What’s next for the Weinstein Company? Nowhere Boy, the story of a young John Lennon, which, according to the producer, is “shocking and amazing.