Dance Flick is the latest spoof film from the Wayans family. If there was ever a genre of film warranting their patented brand of humor it is the modern dance film. Dance Flick lampoons everything from Save the Last Dance to Dirty Dancing.
In the midst of this tomfoolery is actress Christina Murphy. The actress shares insight into working with the Wayans family and how she had to become a dance expert in less than a month. Even though the scenes portray dance as comedy, the routines are still at the top of the difficulty ladder.
Murphy phones SheKnows from her Los Angeles home ready to boogie down on the ins and outs of Dance Flick.
SheKnows: Once you were cast in Dance Flick, did you watch any of these great dance films that you’re parodying? Or, did you think it best to tackle Dance Flick on its own merit?
Christina Murphy: I definitely chose that I didn’t want to imitate my character. I’m a combination of two different girls, so I’ve already seen half of the movies because I loved all those movies when they came out. I’ve always loved Dirty Dancing and we spoof that. I’ve seen Hairspray, High School Musical, but the script really spells itself out for you. I’ve always loved those films.
SheKnows: I would think how things are settled with a dance-off in those films would be ripe for parody?
Christina Murphy: (Laughs) I don’t know what will end up being in the movie, we had to do some re-shoots. The first time around we did a seven-minute, full-on dance off with Irish jigs and hip-hop and swing — all this crazy stuff. I don’t think that’s going to be in the movie anymore, but we hope it’s on the DVD.
SheKnows: When you are working on a spoof like Dance Flick, is the biggest challenge getting through a take?
Christina Murphy: (Laughs) Yes! The answer is most definitely yes. There were many days where it was so hard — we called it â€˜locking it up’ — where I couldn’t lock it up. My shoulders would be uncontrollably shaking in scenes. They’d point it out on the monitors and it was me laughing inside. â€˜You have to pretend that’s not happening,’ they told me. Especially with Amy Sedaris, she is such a great improver than anything came out of her mouth, you were just ready for them to say â€˜cut’ so you could run off set and starting laughing.
SheKnows: Amy, plus several people on the Dance Flick, how much were you able to deviate from the script for improv?
Christina Murphy: They were really great about letting us improv, many times when we got to write our own lines. We’d huddle up and think of ideas. Each comedian, whether it Keenan or Shawn, Marlon or Amy or David Allen Grier, they all had their own idea of what they wanted to work a scene, the Wayans are great, they just let you roll with it. That’s where a lot of the best takes came from.
Entering Wayans world
SheKnows: How was it working with the Wayans family? There are funny actors and then there are funny families.
Christina Murphy: They all look alike for one, at first you wonder who’s a cousin or a nephew. At any given time, the entire family was on set. The first day of dance rehearsals, I went up to our choreographer Dave Scott — who’s world renowned — and I asked which Wayans brother are you? They treat you like family. They don’t have an arrogance about them. They accept off of us for who we are.
SheKnows: You can just ask Anna Faris, she’s been welcomed into the Wayans world. It seems like the kind of thing where actresses are asked back.
Christina Murphy: Oh, my gosh! It’s wonderful as an actress because you could go onto that set being very much intimidated. Look at Keenan, coming from In Living Color, he’s been such a key part comedic history, but we came in and treated us like family. They put an arm around us the whole time.
SheKnows: Was the dancing aspect difficult for you? Did you have any background?
Christina Murphy: It was very much a challenge (laughs). I did ballet when I was little. Then I got into athletics, more the Tomboy things and less the dancing world. Who would ever think I’d be part of such a big dancing movie? We were learning every genre of dancing. Quickly I learned I was low on the totem pole as far as rhythm, making my body move the way it should (laughs).
SheKnows: Once you tackled it and felt better about it, did you find the endeavor enjoyable?
Christina Murphy: Of course, I have so much respect for dancers. It’s really such an art. Our dancers when they were learning the choreography with us, they picked it up in a flash — whereas I’m almost on the verge of tears every day. I’m so stressed I won’t have it ready in time for the camera. They can do something incredible things with their bodies.