I stan Ryan Murphy, movie director. While the prolific creator is primarily known for his work in television (Glee, American Horror Story, American Crime Story, et. al), I found his 2014 HBO adaptation of play The Normal Heart to be excellently emotional work. Now, Murphy is adapting another Broadway show into a Netflix film. And in a recent interview with Collider’s Steve Weintraub for his new Netflix limited series Hollywood, Murphy shared the latest status on this film, called The Prom.
Thankfully, Murphy seems to have finished nearly all of his principal photography before the pandemic hit, especially with lead performers like Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep, James Corden, Andrew Rannells, and others. Because of this, Murphy believes they can still hit their planned release window:
“All of the leads had wrapped. The last scene that I shot was Nicole Kidman’s last scene. Meryl had finished and James Corden had finished, and Andrew Rannells and Nicole had all finished. The only thing that I had is I had two days of second unit pickup… I hope this summer I can go back and quickly pick them up… The movie was supposed to come out right around Christmas, was the plan. November, Thanksgiving, Christmas in that window. Hopefully, I’ll be able to still do that.”
TBH, a Murphy-directed movie musical based on the hit Broadway musical about out-of-touch theater stars who flock to a small town to force their high school to allow a gay couple to attend prom, with this bonkers cast, sounds like the perfect holiday season pick-me-up, particularly after this dreadfully quarantined summer we’re all having. Murphy was immediately attracted to the progressive nature of the material, saying, “I love the message of it. I really related to the protagonist. Emma is from Indiana and is not allowed to go to her prom because she’s gay. And I’m from Indiana and I wasn’t allowed to take a man or a male compadre to my prom. I related to it, so I believed in the message.”
And for fans of The Prom wondering what tunes from the show made it? Murphy gave us this big update:
We used all the songs and then we’ve written one new song for it, one new original piece for The Prom. That was really fun to work on and it’s a great ballad, and it’s really a moving song about acceptance and prejudice. I think a lot of people will love it. Yeah, we kept every song and we added one, which is a lot, but it’s fun, worth it.
Like many other movie musicals, the team has added a new song to the roster of existing material — often a play at an Oscar for Best Original Song. It’s also surprising to hear they’re keeping every single song from the original show in — usually a few tunes get cut when stage musicals are turned into films (i.e. “The Ballad of Sweeney Todd” somehow not making it into Sweeney Todd). This sounds like it’ll be quite the tune-filled affair — and here’s hoping the new song blends in with the rest well enough.
As for how Murphy got this star-studded cast to sing these well-known (and one original) song? Well, all he had to do was ask:
“I’ve never done this in my career, but I called up three people I’ve always wanted to work with, which was Meryl Streep and James Corden and Nicole Kidman. And I said, ‘I want to do this. I believe in it. I want to work with you. Do you want to do it?’ And all three of them went to see [the play] within that week, I think, and they all called and instantly said, ‘Yes, I will do it.’ The fact that I could get Meryl Streep to love it and be into it and believe in it as much as I did, I just couldn’t believe that I got Meryl Streep to say yes in a one week window.
I was so excited for the message, and then I think I was right about how powerful it is because all of those actors said yes instantly, which has never happened once in my career. And it turned out to be the most fun to shoot. I mean, there’s so many takes. We had to stop because we were all just dying laughing because it was so funny. And they’re all just so good in it. Meryl’s amazing and James and Nicole, Andrew and all the new kids in it.”
With any luck, The Prom will be available on Netflix this holiday season.
For more from Steve’s interview with Ryan Murphy, here’s why he wanted to make Hollywood and championing minority voices, an update on American Crime Story: Impeachment, and an update on the Ewan McGregor-led Halston series.