Billy Magnussen talks INTO THE WOODS movie & More

PC: Shakespeare to Sondheim: how did you get involved with the big screen version of INTO THE WOODS?

BM: I just auditioned! Like I said, man – you just go in and do it! [Laughs.]

PC: That’s what you say!

BM: But, seriously, I would say that Meryl Streep was a big influence on me getting the job, though. [Sighs.] She is just lovely. I’ve just been doing my scenes with her, and, oh God, she is just awesome! Unfortunately, as you know, I can’t really talk about it, though! [Laughs.]

PC: It’s all being kept pretty hush-hush at this early stage! What can you tell me about Mackenzie Mauzy as your Rapunzel?

BM: She is just lovely, too – a really lovely girl. I loved working with her – it was really great.


PC: Have you gotten to share any time with Johnny Depp onset yet?

BM: Yes. He was a very nice guy – I met him and I could not have been more impressed with how wonderful he was. A really nice guy.

PC: How do you see the place of social media in modern movie publicity and a means to leak information and express ideas? INTO THE WOODS has had pretty extensive social media coverage, clearly.

BM: Well, for me, I don’t do it so much for publicity reasons as I just do it for my friends, you know? I’m not that good with that kind of stuff, really – it’s hard for me because I’m not witty or anything like that. I try.


PC: Have you invited Stephen Sondheim to any of the shows?

BM: I don’t think he’s in town, but we should when we are back in New York.

PC: Have you gotten some one-on-one time with him working on INTO THE WOODS?

BM: Yeah, he was there when we recorded with the orchestra and all the stuff like that.

PC: Did he give you any particular insights?

BM: Well, you know, I think what he wrote is so beautiful and the music informs the story so much – that’s what makes a great writer, I think – and it is all right there in the music and lyrics. But, yeah, he would say things like, “Here – when you are doing this line, just remember: it’s a love song.” But, yeah, he was really cool.

PC: So, filming wraps at the end of this month?

BM: Yep. The end of the month is the end. I’m so glad, too – it’s going to be really cool.

PC: It’s going to be torture waiting 13 months for it to come out!

BM: Yeah, but that’s the fun part! That’s the best thing – to wait for something for a long time and then it happens. I’ve seen it and I think people are going to be impressed. Rob Marshall really knows how to make a beautiful movie…

PC: People have been waiting for 25 years – the time has come! It’s the most anticipated movie musical since LES MISERABLES.

BM: I know! I am very, very, very excited to be a part of it.

Full interview


Disney’s ‘INTO THE WOODS’ ventures into production featuring award-winning cast & production team

Film to Feature Songs from the Award-Winning Stage Show, Plus Brand-New Song by Stephen Sondheim

Disney’s “Into the Woods” kicked off production last week, featuring an award-winning production team and all-star ensemble cast. Rob Marshall, the talented filmmaker behind the Academy Award®-winning musical “Chicago” and Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” helms the film, which is based on the Tony®-winning original musical by James Lapine, who also penned the screenplay, and legendary composer Stephen Sondheim, who provides the music and lyrics—including an all-new song for the big-screen adaptation. “Into the Woods” is produced by Marshall, John DeLuca, “Wicked” producer Marc Platt and Callum McDougall. Shooting in studio and on location throughout England, the film is slated for a December 25, 2014, holiday release. “Into the Woods” is a modern twist on the beloved Brothers Grimm fairy tales, intertwining the plots of a few choice stories and exploring the consequences of the characters’ wishes and quests. This humorous and heartfelt musical follows the classic tales of Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Rapunzel—all tied together by an original story involving a baker and his wife, their wish to begin a family and their interaction with the witch who has put a curse on them. The all-star ensemble cast includes:

  • Meryl Streep (“The Iron Lady,” “The Devil Wears Prada,” “August: Osage County”) portrays the Witch who wishes to reverse a curse so that her beauty may be restored.
  • Emily Blunt (“Looper,” “The Young Victoria,” “The Devil Wears Prada”) is the Baker’s Wife, a childless woman who longs to be a mother.
  • James Corden (Broadway’s “One Man, Two Guvnors,” “The Three Musketeers,” “Gavin & Stacey”) plays the role of the Baker, a hard-working man who desperately wants to start a family.
  • Anna Kendrick (“Pitch Perfect,” “Up in the Air”) fills the shoes of Cinderella, who finds herself on a journey of self-discovery.
  • Chris Pine (“Star Trek Into Darkness,” “Jack Ryan”) portrays Cinderella’s Prince, charming and impossibly handsome, who is on an endless quest to find his bride.
  • Johnny Depp (“Pirates of the Caribbean” films, “The Lone Ranger,” “Sweeney Todd”) steps in as the Wolf, who sets his sights on Little Red Riding Hood.
  • Lilla Crawford (Broadway’s “Annie”) makes her feature-film debut as Little Red Riding Hood, a smart and spunky girl who journeys into the woods, finding unexpected adventures along the way.
  • Daniel Huttlestone (“Les Misérables”) lands the role of Jack, an absentminded and adventurous boy who trades his treasured cow for five magic beans.
  • Tracey Ullman joins the cast as Jack’s Mother, a poor and exasperated mom who is overwhelmed, yet fiercely protective of her son.
  • Christine Baranski (“Mamma Mia!,” “Chicago” “The Good Wife”) takes on the infamous Stepmother who wishes for riches and grandeur; she’ll do anything to marry off one of her daughters to a prince.
  • MacKenzie Mauzy (“Brother’s Keeper,” Broadway’s “Next to Normal”) plays Rapunzel, a sheltered young woman who experiences the world beyond her tower for the first time.
  • Billy Magnussen (Broadway’s “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike,” “Boardwalk Empire,” “The East”) is the dashing and eager Prince who courts Rapunzel.

Celebrated actors from the stage and screen fill the supporting roles, including Tammy Blanchard (“Blue Jasmine,” “The Good Shepherd”) and Lucy Punch (“Bad Teacher,” “Dinner for Schmucks”) as Cinderella’s spoiled stepsisters, Florinda and Lucinda.
Richard Glover (“Sightseers,” “St. Trinian’s”) is the Princes’ royal steward, Frances de la Tour (“Hugo,” “Alice In Wonderland”) portrays the giant, and Simon Russell Beale (“The Deep Blue Sea”) is the Baker’s father. Actress Joanna Riding (“My Fair Lady,” “Carousel”) portrays Cinderella’s late mother, and Little Red Riding Hood’s beloved granny is played by Annette Crosbie (“Calendar Girls,” “The Slipper and the Rose”).

The big-screen adaptation welcomes songs from the stage musical, including “Children Will Listen,” “Giants in the Sky,” “On the Steps of the Palace,” “No One Is Alone” and “Agony,” among others. Additionally, Sondheim has penned an all-new song for the story’s theatrical debut. The award-winning production team includes Dion Beebe (“Collateral,” “Chicago,” “Nine”), Oscar® winner for the Marshall-helmed “Memoirs of a Geisha,” as director of photography. Dennis Gassner (“Skyfall,” “Quantum of Solace”), who won his own Oscar for “Bugsy,” serves as production designer, and three-time Oscar winner Colleen Atwood (“Memoirs of a Geisha,” “Chicago,” “Alice In Wonderland”) is costume designer. “Into the Woods” premiered on Broadway on Nov. 5, 1987, at the Martin Beck Theatre. The production, which ran for 764 performances, won Tony® Awards for best score, best book and best actress in a musical. Among other awards, the musical received five Drama Desk awards, including best musical. “Into the Woods” has been produced around the world, including a 1988 U.S. tour, a 1990 West End production, Broadway and London revivals, in addition to a television production, DVD recording and a 10-year-anniversary concert.

WaltDisney Studios

WORLD EXCLUSIVE! New confirmed casting for the INTO THE WOODS movie, starring Streep & Depp

Tonight, BroadwayWorld has exclusively learned exciting new information and is thrilled to confirm casting for the major roles in the forthcoming Disney feature film adaptation of Stephen Sondheim & James Lapine’s adored and adorable fairy tale-themed musical “Into the woods”, directed by Rob Marshall.

A source close to the production has confirmed casting for the majority of the roles now that official casting for the highly anticipated big screen tuner is almost complete, with the big budget production set to start shooting in the UK in a few weeks.

Leading “Into the woods” will be acclaimed stage and screen superstar Meryl Streep as The WitchJames Corden as The BakerEmily Blunt as The Baker’s WifeJohnny Depp as The WolfAnna Kendrick as CinderellaChris Pine as Cinderella’s PrinceBilly Magnussen as Rapunzel’s PrinceMackenzie Mauzy as RapunzelLucy Punch as LucindaTammy Blanchard as FlorindaChristine Baranski as Cinderella’s Mother and Tracey Ullman as Jack’s Mother.

At this time, the actors in the roles of Jack and Little Red Ridinghood are still unconfirmed.

Streep previously sang onscreen in the 2008 mega-hit “Mamma Mia!” which also incidentally co-starred Christine Baranski. Depp essayed the title role in Sondheim’s “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” to much acclaim and an Oscar nomination in 2007.

Into the woods” is directed by Rob Marshall from a screenplay by original bookwriter James Lapine and is set to premiere in December 2014.

The original 1987 production of “Into the woods” starred Bernadette Peters, Joanna Gleason and Chip Zien, winning multiple Tony Awards including Best Score, Best Book and Best Actress In A Musical. More recently, a Tony Award-winning 2002 Best Revival starred Vanessa Williams, Kerry O’Malley and Stephen DeRosa.

Sondheim’s score for “Into the woods” features such cherished gems as “Children Will Listen“, “No One Is Alone” and many more. Sondheim and I discussed the previous attempts at a feature film adaptation of “Into the woods” in both of our InDepth InterViews, as well as the themes and specific songs of the musical itself.

A portion of our second InDepth InterView pertaining to “Into the woods” follows:

“PC: So many songs in this book seem to deal with the idea of family and parents – “Children Will Listen” from “Into the woods” being the foremost example.

SS: That’s the whole idea – that’s the whole show; fairy tales are about the relationship between parents and children. If you look at all the fairy tales, they are all about that – Cinderella; Jack and the Beanstalk; they are all about it – because that’s the way fairy tales were told. You know, they weren’t written down – they were told from generation to generation and, usually, matriarchal. So, often, it’s from the woman’s point of view – because in many of the fairy tales, if not most of them, the fathers are missing and the mothers are left. So, that all has to do with the tradition of fairy tales. The Grimm Brothers just collected a lot of them – as all the other fairy tale collectors did – but, they were all from an oral tradition. So, that’s what accounts for the fact that most of them deal with parents and children.”

Check out my entire 2011 InDepth InterView: Stephen Sondheim here.

Also, view my 2010 InDepth InterView with Stephen Sondheim in which we discuss additional material written for the oft-proposed film adaptation – specifically the duet “Rainbows” – as well as the impressive original cast for the aborted 1990s film version and much more, available here.



Meryl Streep is heading to London in 3 weeks to film ‘Into the Woods’

Meryl Streep leaves for London in three weeks to make a movie of Stephen Sondheim’s ‘Into the Woods’

Ms. Streep’s spent some of her summer in Connecticut because her downtown Manhattan home still suffers from the ravages of Hurricane Sandy.



INTO THE WOODS film to hit theaters Christmas Day 2014!

The big-screen adaptation of INTO THE WOODS has officially received a release date.

Disney announced this evening that Rob Marshall‘s film, based upon Stephen Sondheim‘s classic musical, will hit theaters nationwide on December 25, 2014.

The film also recently gained director of photography Dion Beebe, who has previously worked with Marshall on the Oscar-winning Memoirs of a Geisha, Chicago and Nine.

Emily Blunt (as The Baker’s Wife), Meryl Streep (as The Witch) and Johnny Depp (as The Wolf) are set to star in the project. Jake Gyllenhaal and Chris Pine are reportedly still in talks for roles (as Cinderella’s Prince and Rapunzel’s Prince), as are 2012 Tony Award winner James Corden (as The Baker), SMASH star Megan Hilty (as a Stepsister), Tracey Ullman (as Jack’s mother) and Christine Baranski, who was part of the original reading last October, for the role of Cinderella’s evil stepmother.

INTO THE WOODS is heading to London to begin shooting this September. James Lapine, the original book writer of INTO THE WOODS, is reworking the script for the screenplay, while Sondheim has also written new material for the film, including “Rainbows”, a duet between the Baker and his Wife, as well as a new song for Streep as the Witch.



Exclusive: Tracey Ullman in talks to join Disney’s ‘Into the Woods’

Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp, and Chris Pine are among those playing classic fairy tale characters in the adaptation of the Broadway musical.

Tracey Ullman is in negotiations to join the growing cast of Into the Woods, Disney’s adaptation of the Broadway musical being directed by Rob Marshall.

Ullman will join an all-star roster that is likley to include Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp, Chris Pine, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Emily Blunt, all of whom are in various stages of negotiations to be part of the production.

The play is a darkly comic mashup of classic fairy tales that revolves around a childless baker and his wife (Blunt), who attempt to lift a family curse by journeying into the woods to confront the witch that put the spell on them. Along the way, they encounter a group of characters including Rapunzel, Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood.

Ullman will play the mother to Jack the Giant Killer, who has yet to be cast.

Streep is playing a witch and Depp is taking on a variation of the fairy tale wolf. Gyllenhaal and Pine play princes to Cinderella and Rapunzel.