Oscar nominee Quvenzhané Wallis shines in Annie remake
Oscar-nominated child star Quvenzhané Wallis brings her trademark zest to a new big-screen version of the classic Broadway musical Annie, reimagined for the social-media era.
The film is, of course, the story of a young orphan who, while looking for her real parents to save her from cruel carer Miss Hannigan (Cameron Diaz), wins the heart of a rich tycoon, in this case Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx). The remake, directed by Will Gluck, updates the New York setting to the present day rather than the Great Depression of the 1930s, though the characters and upbeat message remain much the same as in the stage musical and 1982 film version.
But African-American Wallis, 11, and the rest of the cast bring a new perspective to the story.
“The characters, certainly the story, and the message is still the same, the optimism is still the same,” says Diaz. “The cast is so diverse – that allows more children in the world to relate to it, to see themselves reflected back from the screen.
“I think we got to play totally new characters in a world that kids can relate to and they understand ... there is social media they can relate to.”
The songs from the musical have also been updated, with pop-style production by veteran rapper Jay Z, and musician-actor Will Smith and his wife Jada Pinkett, among others.
Diaz sings for the first time on-screen in the film, and admits that she was apprehensive – but in the end she enjoyed the experience. “I loved that I got the opportunity to take on something that was really a very scary thing for me,” she says.
Wallis, who was nominated for an Oscar for her startlingly mature performance in 2012’s Beasts of the Southern Wild, has already earned a Golden Globe nomination for her performance in Annie.
“She is very talented – you forget she is only 11 years old,” says Foxx, who says he based his own character on impresario, rapper and producer Sean “P Diddy” Combs. “To watch her bloom and grow into this character, it was fun.”
As well as using social media intelligently in the plot, the movie also broaches the subject of the dangers it can bring.
“Miss Hannigan represents the epidemic that is happening in our society today where people, especially young kids, are putting their self-worth on how many likes they get or how many followers they have on social media,” said Diaz.
Published: December 24, 2014 04:00 AM