By Kellie Freeze
“I can’t believe I’m living what I’m living now!” squeals actress Laverne Cox as we chat about her starring role in fall’s most anticipated musical event — a modern reimagining of the 1975 cult classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show. “So many of my dreams have come true and Rocky Horror was definitely one of them.” Cox’s role as Transylvanian transvestite Dr. Frank-N-Furter in FOX’s The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do the Time Warp Again is (October 20th) the realization of a dream for the transgender actress and LGBT advocate.
“The first time I saw [the original], I was like, ‘What is this? This is me!’ It felt like me,” Cox says. The Rocky Horror Picture Show helped her make sense of her own life, and she shares, “I hadn’t started transitioning yet. I was in this androgynous space. I had a shaved head and I wore makeup every day to ballet class and then I saw this character who was gender nonconforming like me and saying, ‘Don’t dream it, be it.’ And that became a personal mantra and now I am it.”
The actress is excited to add her own twist to the iconic character, including elements from a bevy of classic beauties. “We looked at old Hollywood divas like Fay Wray — of course — and some of the scream queens, but also Joan Crawford, and Katharine Hepburn and Bette Davis. And so they influenced it, because it’s diva worship. I think Frank-N-Furter would be very much influenced by those sorts of old Hollywood divas but also rock ’n’ roll. You know, it’s Tina Turner, and David Bowie, and Grace Jones and Eartha Kitt. It’s a hodgepodge of different influences.”
Cox reveals that one of the highlights of the project was shooting “Sweet Transvestite,” a showstopping production number and the film’s most iconic song. “That night was so magical; it was the last day that the Transylvanians and backup dancers were filming and they were incredible.” Cox, a former dancer herself, acknowledges the many hands (and feet) working to make the production a success, including those who sashay in the background. She adds, “They had so much energy that I was able to feed off of, and I could cry thinking about it, because it was hard. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.”
Cox acknowledges that following in the high-heeled footsteps of Tim Curry, the original Frank-N-Furter, is a near-impossible task, but it has been made easier by Curry’s participation in the project. The actress shares an encounter with the legend that has had a profound effect on her. “The first day of rehearsal in L.A. — before we started recording the soundtrack — I sang all of the songs from the film in front of him, and talk about pressure! Talk about it being intimidating! He said ‘Brava’ after I sang. … I didn’t sleep that night.”
Brought to you by the publishers of TV Guide, the ultimate TV resource packed with celebrity news and commentary on what’s new and what’s good to watch. Get TV Guide at 88% off the cover price: call 800-866-1400 or visit tvguidemagazine.com. ©TV Guide 2016