We recently had the opportunity to speak with the incomparable Mary J. Blige at a roundtable discussion in Los Angeles about the original song she wrote for Disney's upcoming adaptation of the bestselling (and much beloved) Kathryn Stockett novel, The Help.
Blige was inspired to write the song "The Living Proof" when she saw a screening of the film and felt a personal connection to the character of Aibileen Clark, whose circumstances in some ways reminded her of her aunt -- who had been a maid.
In the course of the conversation, Blige gave some details about her upcoming role in the film adaptation of the rock-musical, Rock of Ages. We have details on Blige's character in the film below.
First, take a look at the synopsis for The Help and featurette on Blige's original song below:
Based on one of the most talked about books in years and a #1 New York Times best-selling phenomenon, “The Help” stars Emma Stone (“Easy A”) as Skeeter, Academy Award®–nominated Viola Davis (“Doubt”) as Aibileen and Octavia Spencer as Minny—three very different, extraordinary women in Mississippi during the 1960s, who build an unlikely friendship around a secret writing project that breaks societal rules and puts them all at risk. Deeply moving, filled with poignancy, humor and hope, “The Help” is a timeless and universal story about the ability to create change.
Blige described her character in Adam Shankman’s Rock of Ages as, "a gentleman's club owner...you know a strip club owner - but a nice strip club!" named Justice Charlier. The singer/actress says Justice is:
"The rock. But she's probably the person with the most problems that they never see. She has to keep everybody lifted up. That's the inner work. The inner work is that she's been through hell, she can't find a love, so she ended up in a strip club. But, she's fun. She's funny. Most funny people have sad, sad stories. So, she's the light and the dark place I believe."
Blige begins shooting on the 25th and has been preparing by working with an acting coach, reading about acting techniques, and is planning on doing some "method acting -- going to some strip clubs" when she gets to Miami. Blige echoed all of our thoughts about her research and work when she said, "It sounds like it's going to be fun."
As to what she is most looking forward to in the film, Blige cited the music and the cast as the principal draws of the piece.
"I love the fact that everyone is singing. It's like, we act-sing, act-sing. So there are songs like "Any Way You Want It that" by Journey that I'm singing and "Shadows of the Night" by Pat Benatar and "Harden My Heart." This movie is like the "Grease" of our times, you know, with all the 80s songs and Tom Cruise is singing "I Want To Know What Love Is" and then, what's that one..."I'm a cowboy..."
Blige momentarily trailed off searching for the title of the song, at which point the bulk of the room chimed in with, "on a steel horse I ride..." and the remainder of the chorus of "Wanted Dead Or Alive".
"He's killing these songs man!" Blige enthused about Cruise. "I mean at the table reading - it was amazing because it was Alec Aaldwin, Russell Brand..and I was like, 'Oh my God!' Tom Cruise came in character! But I knew he was going to do that."
When asked what it was like to interact with Cruise as his character, Blige responded:
"He had the scarf, the hat, the jacket with all the tassels on it! Stacee Jaxx is just an arrogant a-hole. But he finds that he needs help in the end. But he's just funny and everything is, 'you wanna sleep with me!'" (Laughing)
Blige has recorded "Harden My Heart" and "Shadows of the Night", she will be recoding "Any Way You Want It" shortly.
You can hear Mary J. Blige's original song "The Living Proof" in The Help opening on August 10th.
Rock of Ages is scheduled for release on June 1st, 2012.
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