Chace Crawford on Footloose

Crawford is ready to follow the fancy footwork of Kevin Bacon when he begins shooting Paramount’s reboot of the 1984 dance classic Footloose next March. The 23-year-old Gossip Girl star landed the lead after Zac Efron dropped out. “I know Zac and we’re actually friends,” Crawford tells Entertainment Weekly. “He’s gotta make the best choice for his career at this point and I have to make the best for mine and luckily it worked out for both of us.” Still, Crawford wasn’t even born when the original premiered in theaters. So is this just an elaborate ruse to win at Six Degrees? Jokes Crawford, “I want my number to be up — my Bacon number.” Crawford won the part after a brutal audition, including dancing and singing, for producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron (Hairspray) and director Kenny Ortega (High School Musical). “It was, like, five hours of the most rigorous tests ever,” says Crawford. “I walked out very confident.”

A Paramount spokesperson confirmed to EW that Dancing With the Stars’ Julianne Hough will screen-test this week. Hough’s recent success as a country music star could give her an advantage. Says Meron, “It’s a much more singing-intensive movie for the female lead.”

The new Footloose, which recently got a rewrite from Erin Brockovich’s Susannah Grant, will pay homage to the first film — the setting will still be a dance-free town, and the original cast could pop up in cameos. Also expect to hear familiar tunes like the title track. “The classic hit songs from the movie will be sung,” says Zadan. “There will be new songs that will be written by new artists, and those will be soundtrack songs.” Explains Meron, “It’s not really a burst-into-song musical. Any songs that are sung are coming out of an organic place.”

One thing that may not reappear is some of the more elaborate choreography. “I don’t know if the gymnastics [high bar] scene is going to make it,” says Crawford, who’s about to embark on an Ortega-plotted training regimen. “I’ve got some movement in me, but I’m not a dancer,” he admits. “I need to start stretching now.”

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