Filmmaker Bill Condon has had a versatile career. He broke out big with his 1998 drama Gods and Monsters, for which he won a Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar, and he went on to direct the unique biopic Kinsey, but Condon is a passionate musical fan at heart, and his 2006 adaptation of the musical Dreamgirls proved he could handle a big budget, big stars, and big musical numbers. While he has since gone on to find success directing movies like The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 and Part 2 as well as this year’s box office smash Beauty and the Beast, Dreamgirls still remains an impressive stamp on Condon’s resume, and the movie is being revived in a way with a brand new Extended Cut hitting Blu-ray.
The Director’s Extended Edition of Dreamgirls is currently available on Blu-ray and Digital HD and includes 10 minutes of additional footage plus never-before-seen Jennifer Hudson auditions and screen tests. In anticipation of the film’s new release, I recently got the chance to talk to Condon about the Extended Edition. He discussed how he actually put this cut together back when Dreamgirls was first released, what fans can look forward to seeing in the Extended Cut, how he’s working on doing a theatrical release for the new cut, casting Jennifer Hudson, and more.
Additionally, with Condon next set to direct the Dark Universe film Bride of Frankenstein, we talked about his plans for that film (note: this interview was conducted before the news hit that pre-production was being delayed), how it relates to the James Whale original, and more. And Condon also revealed what happened to the big Twilight: Breaking Dawn cut that combined Part 1 and Part 2 into one movie.
Read the full interview below. Dreamgirls: Director’s Extended Edition is now available on Blu-ray and Digital HD.
What’s funny is every time I’ve ever interviewed you for anything I always ask you about deleted scenes and your first cut and finally I’m talking to you about your “extended cut” for Dreamgirls. Is the extended cut that’s coming your “director’s cut”? The one that you want people to watch from now on?
BILL CONDON: I made a real point, because when they first showed me the packaging it said “Director’s Edition” and I turned it into “Director’s Extended Edition” because for me, this is, I call it “More Dreamgirls.” What it is, it’s for people—I assume this is who’s going to seek it out, it’s people who already are fans of that movie and that musical. None of it’s, I would say, absolutely necessary but in a movie that was in a tight two hours as you know was tracking eight characters across almost two decades, it just gives more breathing room, more detail, and frankly, the songs. It’s that extra verse of “Love You I Do” and “One Night Only” and “I Am Changing” and Eddie Murphy. To me there’s just more musical pleasure in it too. I’m not saying it’s like, “Oh this is the one I always wanted they wouldn’t let me have.” It’s not that. I created it at the time hoping it would be in there at some point.
Is this extended edition something you created back in ’06, ’07?
CONDON: That’s right. It was created back then. Absolutely. In the hope that someday it might be seen.
Wow. This has been sitting in the vault for a little while.
CONDON: Yep and the idea was the 10th anniversary reissue that we missed by a few months. There were some people who would say that I was busy with Beauty and the Beast and all that.
No, no, completely. I guess my question is, are there other deleted scenes or other things that didn’t make it in this extended cut or do you feel that the stuff that wasn’t in the final theatrical cut, this is the highlights, this is what you wanted people to see?
CONDON: Oh, absolutely. This is Everything that I want to be in the movie. There’s very little that isn’t in here though I got to say. Again, it’s, what is it? 140 minutes or something? It’s a pretty long movie. I think this is everything.
When you think back on the making of the film, it’s been 10 years now, or 11 years even. Is there a day or two that still sticks with you or is it one of those shoots that you’ll always remember?
CONDON: It stands as a real highlight for me, the making of that movie. There were so many days, but it’s hard not to remember ending the shoot with Jennifer Hudson doing “And I’m Telling You” for a couple of days and literally the drama of her finishing that song and opening this huge—It’s like a movie, right? We open the huge soundstage door and it’s just starting to be dawn and we’d been up all night doing the wraps for the number and she’s just collapsed and crying and so happy. Amazing.
What’s funny is I was doing some research to talk to you and I discovered you shot that iconic sequence at the end of the shoot. Was that always the plan? What was your motivation for ending the shoot with that number?
CONDON: You knew with Dreamgirls that’s the mountain you have to climb right? Why not give Jennifer, who’s never made a movie before, the experience of living in Effie’s skin for two or three months and making a movie and all. She was never going to know it better than on that day. I guess there’s another version of it where you get it done early so that you’re not nervous about it but I think the nervous energy of knowing, “Oh my God, she’s skilled, and we’ve all made this movie but still, this better work this week.” I don’t know, it just made it all the climax of everything. Can I say one other geeky thing about the—when Dreamgirls was released on Blu-ray it was the first Paramount Blu-ray believe it or not. How quickly things change in only 10 years. Paramount took a long time to embrace lossless audio and things like that and this is a new mix that Mike Minkler did, so it is unbelievable how much richer the sound is and how much richer the music is.
Totally. I know it’s coming to Blu-ray but was there ever any talk about, for the fans of the movie, doing some sort of one week theatrical re-release? Is that happening?
CONDON: Yeah. We definitely have—it’s fine print and we’re just figuring that out now. I know that they’ve been talking to people like Fathom that put on those performances nationwide. I think we’re hoping to slot into something like that. Definitely, I can’t wait to see it on the screen. At the very least, there are a few theaters I know mostly in New York and LA that I think are interested in showing it. Place like the Metrograph, when I’m in those places.
I was actually going to ask you where are you currently located? Are you in LA?
CONDON: No, I’m in London because we started prepping Bride of Frankenstein.
Oh I was going to say, I wasn’t sure if you were in the States, but that answers that. I wasn’t sure where that was being filmed.
CONDON: We’re going to do it almost all in London.
I have so many questions about that but one more thing about Dreamgirls, which is one of the big things with casting Jennifer Hudson, that was a big casting thing where I know you met with tons of people. What is it like casting that kind of important role and how much are you second-guessing yourself? How do you know when you’ve found the one?
CONDON: In that case there’s a lot of second-guessing because again if you don’t get that right, the rest of it almost doesn’t matter. We’ve included on this new Blu-ray, I think it’s on iTunes Extras and things like that too, Jennifer’s audition, which is actually her third audition. She did one in New York, she did another in LA and then she came back and did this one which was with full costume and makeup and she worked with the music team and we filmed. It’s crude, but it was chance to—she did, what was it, 10 minutes of the movie or something like that. In this case, I hate to say it, I think you’ll see she proved it in that final audition. It wasn’t as though we said, “Oh we see something. Let’s take the plunge.” I think we all felt, “No, we have to know that this will work. Is she landing the comedy? Is she landing the drama, so that all that stuff can …” That all got proven I think by the time she’d been through this third audition and this process.
Completely, and on top of that she nailed the role and won an award or two.
It’s crazy that you’re doing Bride of Frankenstein. It’s basically full circle.
CONDON: It is, yeah.