About The Characters
Who's that girl who moves with the rhythm of a busy NYC? Who's the foster kid
who sees the good in everybody - even her foster mom, the queen of mean, Miss
Hannigan? Who Hearts New York - and finds out that New York Hearts her right back? Just
one kid - it's Annie!
Taking on the lead role as Annie is Quvenzhane Wallis, the remarkable new talent
who starred in Beasts of the Southern Wild, becoming the youngest person ever
nominated for a Best Actress Oscar. Wallis' acclaimed performance caught the
attention of the Annie filmmakers.
"What is cool about Annie is that she teaches the adults what matters in life,"
says Wallis of the plucky heroine. "I think all kids feel like we have something
to teach grownups."
Wallis says she's a fan of the original movie. "It's my favorite," she says. "I
like to sing and dance along with it. So I love that I got to sing and dance in
the movie for real this time."
"Annie is very kind and serious, and worries about the other girls - she makes
sure they're okay," says Wallis. "She just has a dream of finding her parents.
That's the number one thing on her list. Miss Hannigan is always in her way, but
she also has the other four girls by her side."
Of course, Wallis formed a special bond with those four other girls. "I felt
like I had four sisters on the set," she says. "They were so fun - I made such
good friends. And also Cameron Diaz - she's so nice in real life. Miss Hannigan
is supposed to be mean, but not Cameron!"
Will Stacks never thought he needed anybody - and if you ask him why, he'll
point to his 4.7 billion reasons in the bank. But everybody needs somebody, and
when Stacks takes in Annie, he'll find out exactly what that means.
"It's a beautiful story," says Jamie Foxx, who plays Stacks. "Annie comes into
in his life when he's just trying to use her as another rung up the ladder of
success, but he finds out there's something inside her that he can't deny. Her
love opens him up - that's a great emotion to be able to play on film."
Foxx says that by updating his character, he becomes more relatable to
contemporary audiences. "Stacks has spent all of his time building his phone
company - his business doesn't allow him to be a regular person," says Foxx. "He
forgets about a personal life. And then, running for mayor, it's even more
extreme. Playing it that way gives us something we can identify with, in today's
Foxx was excited to be a part of a film that he can share with his family. "This
film really captures what it's like to have a parent's love for a child," he
says. "The emotion of the movie is real and honest. My six-year-old daughter was
on the set and had a ball. I can't wait for her to see it."
Most foster moms are kind and devoted people working hard to help a kid who
needs a hand. And then there's Miss Hannigan. For this onetime woulda-coulda-shoulda-been
pop star, being a foster mom isn't about giving back - it's about taking all you
can get (like a stipend from the state for the kids' care). With five kids
sharing one room, Hannigan will do anything to keep that gravy train going.
In creating a new version of Miss Hannigan, Diaz welcomed the opportunity to
portray a classic character while also breaking new ground. "I grew up with
Annie, and I love Carol Burnett's performance as Miss Hannigan," she says. "When
it was announced that I was playing the character, I got people of all ages, all
walks of life, coming up to me, 'I hear you're playing Hannigan - I love
Hannigan, she's my favorite character!' Everybody knows this character. In this
movie, I had a chance to play a role that people are familiar with, but she's
been brought into present day in such a fun and contemporary way. So I jumped
right on board - it was an amazing opportunity to sing and dance in a film."
Diaz adds, "Miss Hannigan is a wonderful, delicious role to play. You get to be
this over-the-top villain while also making kids laugh because you're more
ridiculous than scary. Miss Hannigan is like the Wicked Stepmother or Captain
Hook - even tiny kids get it: you want to see the hero kid beat the bad guy
grownup. So many great comediennes have played this part, and I am proud to be a
part of Hannigan's lineage."
In this telling of Annie, Miss Hannigan has a unique history. "She had a failed
attempt at being a pop star 20 years ago, and has never gotten over not being
famous," Diaz explains. "She thinks that if she were famous, she would be happy.
But, in fact, she really needs to learn to love herself."
Which is to say that Hannigan has some very misplaced blame for the reason she's
not happy. "She's at the bottom of her barrel - she really thinks these girls
are in her life to punish her, somehow. Still, she's not a bad person at heart -
she's just really lost her way." As a result, when the wannabe celebrity finds
one of those girls taken in by a true celebrity and becomes a media sensation
herself, Hannigan takes it as a personal affront.
Grace, Stacks' trusted VP, is the power executive who keeps Stacks Mobile up and
running and never dropping a call - but she's still got a soft spot for the
foster kid who suddenly enters her boss's life.
The role is played by Rose Byrne, who grew up loving Annie. "Annie is a fairy
tale in so many ways," says the Australian actress. "I used to play it at
primary school, in the playground - I always wanted to be Annie because I had
curly hair. I have vivid memoriesĀ”Ā¦ these characters - Miss Hannigan and Grace,
the role I play - are firmly embedded in my mind as a child."
Though the filmmakers have given Grace a promotion - once "Daddy" Warbucks'
assistant, she's now Will Stacks' most trusted VP - her soft spot for Annie
remains intact. Like the other characters in the film, she is searching for
something that she didn't know was missing - and that something is a family.
"Grace is highly intelligent and devoted to Will and to the company," Byrne
says, "but she's also a little bit lonely. She becomes a sort of a fairy
godmother to Annie - meeting Annie I think really opens her up and inspires and
delights her, and brings out a whole other side to her."
"For both Will and Grace, Annie brings a fun dynamic into their relationship,"
Byrne continues. "She brings possibility, life, energy, vitality. I think they
were a little bit asleep before they met Annie."
Guy is Stacks' shrewd and scheming campaign advisor. If you want to win your
race, Guy's your guy. But in his book, the end always justifies the means - and
there's no trick too dirty to make it happen.
Emmy-winning actor Bobby Cannavale takes the role. "He prides himself on having
a perfect record - which he does by any means necessary," says Cannavale. "In
this case, he'll do anything to make Will Stacks seem more human and connect
with voters - including coming up with the idea to take in this little girl.
Which they do, and it works - and then, he doesn't need Annie anymore."
A political operative who puts winning above serving the people? In 2014?
Shocking. "I was able to have a lot of fun with the character, because I could
draw on a lot of real people for this guy," he says. "You don't have to go very
far onto the Internet or newspaper - you just turn on CSPAN and you see guys
like this. I think people are now so familiar not only with politicians, but the
people who work behind the scenes - Guy just thrills in getting people to the
top, and what that does for his ego and self-esteem. He does a lot of bad things
to make himself feel good."
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