Thursday, December 31, 2009

In the Making of NINE [7/10]

Rounding out the family of women who came together for NINE isGrammy winning artist Stacy Ferguson—known universally as Fergie—who embraced the haunting role of Saraghina, the Roman prostitute whose romantic advice had a lasting impact on a very young and impressionable Guido, as recalled in the powerful number “Be Italian.”

Once Ferguson won the role in a hard-fought audition, she set out to make it totally her own, diving into cinematic research. She says, “I watched lots of different films from that era, to get the raw physicality of Saraghina. I wanted this character to take over from me. It really came together when we started to do the routine with the girls and I got to work with the boys on the beach. That really gave me a sense of who she was, and what she meant to Guido in his life.”

Ferguson found herself greatly admiring her character. “Saraghina is a very earthy, raw woman, in the way she walks and moves. She’s full of life and fire,” she explains. “But there’s subtlety to it. She loves Guido and the boys, and enjoys teaching them, but she’s kind of having a joke with herself as well at the same time.”

The way that Ferguson embodied all of those qualities took Maury Yeston aback. He says: “I think the world will be stunned by Fergie’s performance. Of course, she is a first-rate recording artist but the revelatory aspect of her performance is that she is also a fantastic film presence.”

Each of the women involved in NINE agree that the film was an unusually fun and rich experience. Summarizes Penélope Cruz: “When things go well on a set it is contagious. There are many different elements to NINE but Rob Marshall brought them all together like a magician. What he did with this movie is going to blow people away and I think we all felt lucky to be part of it.”

Yeston says he was blown away by the non-theatrical cast’s ability to so fully embody his lyrics and songs. “I was very much impressed with the quality of the vocal performances. They are poetic, lyrical and truly moving,” he comments.

Adds Marc Platt: “The skill of Rob Marshall, John De Luca and their terrific team of associate choreographers and vocal coaches allowed each of our cast members to realize their full potential. In each of these extraordinary actors was always the ability to sing and dance, but the key was to allow them to feel safe and to have the confidence to give bravura performances that I think will be revelatory for audiences.”

Adds Harvey Weinstein, “Outside our key crew of Dion, Colleen and John (who started with Rob on CHICAGO) I was the only one in this group that has worked with Rob before. On CHICAGO I had the opportunity to observe Rob’s process which is nothing less than exhausting to behold and it was the same on NINE, actually maybe even harder. If he’s not on the floor working on the numbers with the dancers he’s meeting with the music team listening to the musical numbers and making tweaks or meeting with his designers or working with his cast. On CHICAGO he directed 3 big movie stars on this movie he’s directing 8! Rob has that rare talent; if he’s working with 5 or 500 people; each of those people will feel they have his full attention, respect and those people will go out and give their all to delivery for Rob.”


To allow movie audiences to experience NINE in a distinctly cinematic way, Rob Marshall wanted to invite them to inhabit an Italian movie, moving back and forth between the sleek, Mod streets of 60s Rome through which Guido zooms in his pale blue Fiat Alfa Spyder; and the dreamlike fantasies that erupt from Guido’s imagination, evoking his lust and love, his imagination and frustration, his nostalgia and his yearning to find a path to his future.

To do this, Marshall and his long-time partner, choreographer and producer John DeLuca,gathered around them many of the exceptional artists who helped them to create the kinetic beauty of CHICAGO and MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA. They put together a team that includes two-time Academy Award® winning production designer John Myhre, two-time Academy Award® winning costume designer Colleen Atwood and Oscar® winning director of photography Dion Beebe.


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