Tim Curry, who became a cult icon as Dr. Frank-N-Furter in the original Rocky Horror Picture Show, plays the narrator in the Fox remake and doesn’t share any scenes with its singing, dancing actors. Still, the 70-year-old actor of the 1975 film, sidelined by a stroke in 2012, was often present on set to share his support for his onscreen successor, Laverne Cox, and the rest of the cast, including Adam Lambert, Christina Milian and Annaleigh Ashford.
“He would come to rehearsals when he himself wasn’t rehearsing, and just sit in the middle of the room and tell us industry stories and make us laugh,” Ryan McCartan, who plays Brad Majors, tells The Hollywood Reporter. “Having him there as a godfather of the whole thing was such validation for us to advance confidently. His presence made a huge difference. He actually didn’t talk much about shooting the original, which I thought was very generous of him, to let this be its own experience.”
Victoria Justice, who plays the newly-engaged Janet Weiss, was surprised to meet Curry at an early rehearsal. “We were all sitting by the piano, warming up and doing scales with Tim Curry!” she recalls. “Laverne sang ‘Sweet Transvestite’ for him — she was so nervous, and afterward, he told her she did a great job. It was such an unexpected and beautiful moment.”
Throughout production, the cast did their best to be on set whenever Curry was, regardless of whether they were rehearsing or shooting themselves. “It’s so incredible to have his support on something that has been such a vehicle for himself and is part of his legacy,” says Reeve Carney, who plays Riff Raff. “Just spending time with him — he has such a gentle presence.”
The actors also hit a midnight showing of the 1975 film as a cast in Toronto — a familiar experience only for Justice, who attended her first one at 15 years-old, as a mother-daughter outing with her best friends. “Dressing up was so much fun — I wore red lipstick and black fishnets and heels,” she tells THR. “The fans there, because I was a ‘virgin,’ wrote a big lipstick ‘V’ on my face and drew a phallic object on my other friend’s face! Their spirit was so exciting.”
Directed by Kenny Ortega, the remake employs the original script, but with tiny tweaks in its delivery. “In the original movie, it’s like Brad and Janet made it out of the castle by the skin of their teeth,” says McCartan. “But in our version, it’s almost like maybe Brad didn’t want to leave, maybe he wants to participate a little bit longer.”
The three actors are most excited for broadcast audiences to discover Ortega’s new choreography and William Ivey Long’s costumes. Altogether, “the general look is a bit shinier and glossier, like things you’d see in 2016, but still has the edge of the original,” said Carney. Echoed McCartan, “The budget is much bigger than what they had in the original, so production took advantage of that and made this thing beautiful.”
He added, “Rocky Horror never apologizes for itself — it never has and it never will, and we aren’t going to do that either.”
The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again airs Thursday, Oct. 20, at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Fox.