You may not recognize her now, but that's because Little Orphan Annie is all grown up... and she has been for a while.
Yes, the 1982 John Huston musical film "Annie" is now 30 years old and celebrating with a commemorative Blu-ray edition that includes a sing-along feature. In honor of the anniversary, Yahoo! Movies spoke with the film's former freckled, red-headed (it was a wig) star Aileen Quinn, who revealed some little known details about the making of the film, including the audition process.
The Quinn-SJP Connection: Quinn, now 41, was a "swing orphan" in the Broadway show that preceded the film when she was just eight years old. She was in the stage show musical just after Sarah Jessica Parker's tenure as Annie. (Yes, SJP got her start on Broadway!) "The switch over was pretty close because I got invited to [Parker's] 12th birthday party. So I did meet Sarah way back then but it was while Allison Smith [who went on to star in "Kate & Allie"] was Annie," Quinn recalls.
Gene Siskel Proven Wrong: The film opened to mixed reception from critics -- but that didn't stop it from picking up a few Oscar noms and even a Golden Globe nom for Quinn. Still, Quinn distinctly remembers one of the jeers -- from the late film critic Gene Siskel. "He said 'I think those freckles were painted on.' And if you could see me right now in person they were definitely not painted on. I'm a freckled girl, I'm very Irish," she recalled with a giggle.
One Out of Thousands: Director John Huston staged a highly publicized nationwide hunt for Annie in an audition process that involved 8,000 hopefuls and an entire year. Quinn auditioned eight times in total and when she was told she got the part, she literally didn't believe it. Search coordinator Garrison True told her the news in her hotel room after she did a screen test with Albert Finney and they were down to three finalists. "He said, 'We found our Annie.' And I said, 'Oh my gosh who is it!?' and he said, 'It's YOU!' [laughing]. 'You're going to be on the "Today Show" tomorrow,'" Quinn recounted. "I was in shock."
Albert Finney, Musical Novice: "One of my favorite memories of him is [Albert] learning to really sing for the first time. He did that beautiful version of 'Maybe' ... As he was taking singing lessons on the set, I can remember him with a cigar out of his mouth and going 'la la la la la la la,' pause, 'la la la la la la la.'" Quinn went on to remember how Finney, who was also new to dancing, put what looked like bottle caps on his loafers to practice tap dancing. "He was, like, in it to win it... so adorable."
Carol Burnett, Lifesaver: Quinn describes co-star Carol Burnett, who played the evil orphanage maven Miss Hannigan, as motherly and protective on set. The two keep in touch to this day and make a point to sneak into each others' dressing rooms after stage shows and catch dinners every now-and-again. Back when they were both shooting "Annie," one of the final sequences required Quinn to climb up a narrow ladder on a bridge. Quinn remembers the crew sprayed water over a gaping nearby hole in order for it to look good on film. She wondered aloud, "What if I fall in?" And that's when Burnett sprung into action, Quinn recalled: "Carol said, 'We're not starting filming until they cover that up.' So she personally made them cover hole."
The New, Modern 'Annie': Will Smith is producing a new version of "Annie" set to star his daughter Willow. Jay-Z, who has already sampled "Hard Knock Life" in his his hit 1998 track, has been pegged to do the soundtrack. And Emma Thompson has reportedly written the script. Quinn says she is all for it: "I think it's really cool. It will be interesting to see how gritty they want to get." Quinn added the combo of Jay-Z and Thompson is a mix of modern and classic. "I'm dying to see it."
Watch 'Annie' Trailers and Clips:
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