How Laverne Cox Trained to Play Dr. Frank-N-Furter in ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’

Arya Roshanian
Variety

Time warped throughout the evening as both the cast and creative team of Fox’s “The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do The Time Warp Again” greeted costumed fans, while also enjoying a drink or two during its Los Angeles premiere Thursday at the Roxy Theater in West Hollywood.

Prior to the red carpet, West Hollywood Councilmember John J. Duran t0ok a moment to honor Tim Curry, the original Dr. Frank-N-Furter as well as the TV movie’s producer and The Roxy co-owner Lou Adler, who executive produced the 1975 film adaptation of the stage musical. Curry also appears in the 2016 version as the film’s narrator.

“Give yourself over to absolute pleasure,” quoted Duran, as he dedicated Oct. 14 as “Rocky Horror Picture Show Day” in the city of West Hollywood.

The stars eventually graced the red carpet, including Adler, Curry, Laverne Cox, Victoria Justice, Ryan McCartan, Christina Milian and Ben Vereen. When not walking the carpet, the cast wasted no time before taking selfies and laughing on the sidelines.

Though the 1975 film remains a classic, producers said that they had some reservations before green-lighting a new adaptation. Adler revealed that he was well-aware that diehard fans of the cult classic felt it should remain untouched, but he feels confident that the new adaptation will be appreciated by everyone. Adler also noted that the most important aspect of the upcoming film is Cox herself.

“She’s a force,” Adler described. “It’s surprising that she hasn’t been asked to do a musical before, because she can really do it all. She really sets the bar high.”

Cox, who studied classical singing for many years, noted the immense amount of training she endured prior to principal production.

“I started [training] months before we began production,” Cox said. “I started taking voice lessons again in 2015 with Liz Caplan, who works with everybody on Broadway. Once I was cast, I started taking voice lessons three times a week, and dance classes four times a week.”

Cox went on to call opera singers Leontyne Price and Jessye Norman her vocal heroines. Though there isn’t much classical music in the film itself, Cox’s background proved to be a bonus for the film’s producers—and eventually found it’s way into the film.

“When Lou and [director] Kenny Ortega heard me sing [classically], they said we should incorporate some of that in my role,” Cox said. “We found places to do it in different songs, but not overdo it.”

“The Rocky Horror Picture Show” premieres on Oct. 20 at 8 p.m. on Fox.

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