‘Cinderella’ Director on Film’s “Girlboss” Label: “It’s More Than That”

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Since the trailer and subsequent clips have dropped from Kay Cannon’s modern reimagining of Cinderella, showing Camila Cabello dreaming of a fashion career rather than a wedding, social media has been quick to dub the film as a “girlboss” take. And Cannon, who in 2017 created a Netflix series coincidently called Girlboss, understands that interpretation based off the trailer, but promises, “when you watch the movie you’ll see that it’s more than that.”

“What I really wanted to do was show that Cinderella wasn’t put in a box and she was choosing herself, and that’s a very brave thing to do,” the Pitch Perfect director told The Hollywood Reporter at Monday night’s Los Angeles premiere. “I just wanted to it with jokes and songs have it be highly entertaining. I wasn’t trying to be on a soapbox or anything like that.”

“I get why that jump that made and I hope when people watch it they see that Cinderella actually doesn’t change from beginning to end — she just has all of these other obstacles around her and it’s everyone around her who actually changes and learns,” Cannon added. “I’m telling this multigenerational story. I’m excited for people to see it and get surprised by it and not just go off of the trailer.”

The modern interpretation sees Cabello (in her first acting role) as the classic mistreated stepdaughter, who instead of pining over a man spends her days designing dresses and dreaming of opening her own store — against a backdrop of hit songs. Cannon says that the pop superstar was her perfect lead because “she’s actually like Cinderella in real life.”

“She came to this country with her family as a young child and they didn’t have much and she dreamed big and she went after those dreams. She chose herself in her career and that’s a great thing to do; and she’s a great artist and super funny,” she said of Cabello. “I just felt like when I met her it was like ‘Yes, you’re the right person.’” Another major change to the fairytale is Billy Porter as Fab G, replacing the traditional Fairy Godmother role.

“I thought all of those actresses who’ve done [that part] before are amazing and I don’t even want to be compared to the brilliance of those actresses who have done it before. Immediately I was like ‘I need to make it a man’ — It went from ‘I need to make it a man,’ ‘I need to make it a gay man,’ ‘I need to make it Billy Porter,’” Cannon said. “So I just wrote it for him and it was the easiest thing.”

Cabello said that in taking on the iconic part, she was told by Cannon to not watch or base her performance off of past interpretations since this one would be so unique — which is why she signed on in the first place.

“The fact that it was a musical and has these amazing songs, the fact that it was this feminist modern interpretation of the fairytale was super exciting for me,” she told THR.

The premiere, held at Los Angeles’ Greek Theatre, also welcomed costars Porter, Idina Menzel, Nicholas Galitzine and James Corden, along with Amazon execs Jen Salke, Julia Rapaport, Matt Newman and Ukonwa Ojo, as the streamer licensed the film from Sony Pictures earlier this year.  Guests were required to wear masks and show a negative Covid-19 test upon arrival.

Cinderella starts streaming on Amazon on Friday.

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