Burlesque - Julianne Hough
Georgia (Julianne Hough) © 2010 Screen Gems

Singer/dancer/actress Julianne Hough became known to millions overnight with her participation as professional dance champion on TV’s Dancing with the Stars. In her career as a country singer, her self-titled debut album hit the Billboard Country charts at #1, and the Billboard 200 at #3, marking the highest debut for a country artist since 2006.

She is now pursuing an acting career and her new movie Burlesque opens on November 24th. In it she portrays Georgia, a dancer at The Burlesque Lounge, owned by Tess (Cher). When Georgia becomes pregnant, it gives newcomer Ali (Christina Aguilera) the opportunity she has been looking for to join the revue.

I spoke with Julianne about Burlesque and about her upcoming stint in the remake of Footloose.

Was this a different kind of dancing than on Dancing with the Stars?

CMA Music Festival: Country's Night to Rock - Julianne Hough
CMA Music Festival: Country's Night to Rock - Julianne Hough © 2010 ABC

It is completely different. For me it was more fun in a way because I really got to push myself. I got to focus on me for once and not focus on my partner and make sure he’s okay. I would kind of bring my dancing down so we looked equal so it wasn’t so over the top where I’m dancing around him. So, it was fun for me to feel like I was among great dancers and I got to shine.

How do you feel Christina Aguilera did in this?

It’s funny. You see her shows and you see her music videos and she dances. But there are so many people around to distract that. This was the best dancing she’s ever done. She really worked hard and she did a great job. I think people will be surprised and taken back by her. She’s so stripped down and no makeup and really real.

Were you star struck around Cher?

I was definitely intimidated like most people would be. But she was just so down to earth. She really makes people feel so comfortable. She just knows exactly what to say to get you to that place that you should be in that moment. It’s pretty cool.

Was it as much work as Dancing With the Stars?

Dancing with the Stars, 1109 - Derek Hough and Jennifer Grey
Dancing with the Stars, Episode 1109 - Brother Derek Hough and Jennifer Grey © 2010 ABC
Dancing with the Stars, 1109 - Jennifer Grey and Derek Hough
Dancing with the Stars, Episode 1109 - Jennifer Grey and Derek Hough © 2010 ABC

Yes. The difference is with Dancing With the Stars, we choreographed, we danced, we taught it to them and then we were like their therapists. But we were doing dances that for the stars were hard but not that challenging for me. So coming to do this was like getting back to the grind and really pushing myself to my limit to do as much as I could do keeping up with the other professional girl dancers. It was really fun for me.

What did Dancing with the Stars do for you?

It opened every door imaginable. I moved out to LA when I was 18. I moved here to sing and act. But, the dancing was an avenue to where I wanted to be. It was just a wonderful opportunity and I just went for it. I never realized the success it was going to have and especially the opportunities it was going to bring for me.

Have you kept up with the show?

Yeah. I was shooting Footloose so it was very hard to watch each week. But I would catch it here and there. Now that it’s the last (three), I can’t believe it.

I can’t believe Bristol Palin’s still in it.

Dancing with the Stars, 1109 - Bristol Palin and Mark Ballas
Dancing with the Stars, Episode 1109 - Bristol Palin and Mark Ballas © 2010 ABC
Dancing with the Stars, 1109 - Bristol Palin and Mark Ballas
Dancing with the Stars, Episode 1109 - Bristol Palin and Mark Ballas © 2010 ABC

That’s the thing I was a little confused about. That definitely goes to show what this show is about. It’s not necessarily about the dancing. It’s about the fan base and the people watching. I can definitely testify to that I would not be where I’m at today without the fans of the show. They’ve followed me since day one.

Who do you think will win?

I hope my brother (Derek Hough) and Jennifer (Grey). I think she’s fantastic. I hope my brother wins because I’m biased and, at the same time, I kind of hope he doesn’t because right now we are tied. We both have two wins. So, maybe he’ll have three. Nah. I’m kidding.

How did you get picked for Footloose?

Footloose has been an ongoing thing for the last two years with Kenny Ortega being attached. It was going to be more of a musical. It was going to be Zac Efron, then Chance Crawford and now it’s a guy name Kenny Wormald. He’s an unknown but he’s fantastic.

I was attached to Footloose before I was attached to Burlesque. I was glad it happened the way it did because I got to do Burlesque first which really helped prepare me for Footloose. I had a small, supporting role in this film and I got to ease my way into it, learn the logistics of film making and that world and have fun and take it all in.

Is this Footloose going to be radically different from the one in the ‘80s?

No, it’s very similar.

A town without dancing?

Yes but with more explanation. You understand why there is a ban of dancing. You see an accident happen. In the first one you really know what happened, you just heard about banning dancing. This is much deeper.

If the name Footloose was gone it would be a movie about the relationships between parents and the kids and the trusting and the freedom and the wanting to rebel. It’s definitely a drama with dancing in it like the original but it’s not a dance movie.


Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.