Exclusive: Bill Condon Talks about Director’s Cut of ‘Dreamgirls’

Academy Award-winning screenwriter and director Bill Condon is celebrating his 2006 film “Dreamgirls” (which ultimately garnered Jennifer Hudson an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress and won a Golden Globe for Best Musical or Comedy Motion Picture) with an upcoming release of a Director’s Cut Extended Edition of the film.

The Director’s Cut which will be released in Digital HD on DVD and Blu Ray on October 10th, will include bonus scenes not seen in the theatrical release as well as feature Hudson’s audition tapes and screen tests including Jennifer performing the film’s signature tune “And I Am Telling You” during her audition.

Why is now the right time to release the Blu Ray edition of Dreamgirls?

Bill Condon: I think tenth anniversary, we missed it by two months right. Dreamgirls was always thematically such rich material about such a huge shift in our culture in the sixties into the seventies and the breaking open of so many different barriers. And that it feels now at a moment where we’re worried about taking a step backward. It’s fun to look back at those real pioneers who changed the world. I think it has a slightly different resonance now. And I gotta say when you see things like the riots in Detroit that just got examined in a wonderful new movie. Those are things and the issues that surround it that never go away.

What special moments in particular did you wish you could have shown from the film that we will see on the Director’s Cut Blu Ray edition?

Bill Condon: Well first of all you get to see this amazing Jennifer Hudson audition that got her the part, I’m happy to share that with people now. But I think more than that, there are so many new scenes and moments. A new verse of “Love You I Do,” that shows the relationship between Effie and her brother so that his betrayal of her a little bit later feels even more terrible. And then this scene when they come back together and sing this song that wasn’t in the original movie “Effie, Sing My Song” again I think a really moving performance from Jennifer Hudson and Keith Robinson. Additional scene with Beyonce and Jamie Foxx another great scene with Jamie Foxx that kind of sets up the whole second half of the movie. Things you can tell the story without, but I think it just gives it a little more, it makes you feel like you know a little bit more about the characters.

Seeing what big of a star Jennifer Hudson has become after Dreamgirls in which Dreamgirls was her breakout role, what star quality did you see in her from the beginning?

Bill Condon: You know what it was I think, first of all, all of the things you could imagine. Just the incredible voice, but she really and again this isn’t true in her real life because she is one of the sweetest women, she really can get in touch with her anger, she could really get in touch with it and express it and wasn’t freaked out by it, wasn’t embarrassed by it, she really could use it, and I think that’s the quality that Effie has to have. I think that was what became clear when she did her test.

What was your favorite moment about making the film?

Bill Condon: I have so many of them. I loved doing the title number “Dreamgirls” with those three actresses, just the way they moved as one and you watched Deena become a star before your eyes. Just all the people who contributed to that Sharen Davis costumes, Tobias’ camera and John Myhre’s design and lighting. Sometimes it just comes together in this really magical way.

What advice would you give to future directors who are planning to direct their own revivals of Dreamgirls?

Bill Condon: Well first of all I gotta to say I’ve seen the production that’s playing in London and it’s wonderful and different. Dreamgirls is a very rich story and you can find different ways to approach it. What advice would I give them… keep it moving. I think that’s the best bit of advice because I think that’s how it was invented initially by Michael Bennett. It was this bullet train that took off and never stops. So I think it’s a show that depends on that constant movement and that’s something we tried really hard to do. And it was sort of part of why ultimately we released the shorter version. So I’m not saying any of this slows it down, but it’s a little harder to keep that train moving as you get to the two hour, twenty minute mark. I hope we can do it, I hope we do it with this new version. But it’s a crucial thing I think.

What else do you have in the works coming up in the future?

Bill Condon: Well I’m just starting to work on the Bride of Frankenstein, which is a great favorite movie of mine that was made in the 1930’s and we’re doing a new version. And what I’m really really hoping is to create a really cool scary new monster movie with this female character in the lead.

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