'Rocky Horror' star Victoria Justice: 'The Nickelodeon chapter of my life has closed'
SAN DIEGO - For Victoria Justice and Ryan McCartan -- former child stars who hit Comic Con to promote their roles as Janet and Brad Majors in Kenny Ortega's remake of the randy cult classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show -- it's fair to say their family-friendly days are all but finished.
"I think I can say with certainty now after doing this, the Nickelodeon chapter of my life has closed," Justice affirmed to a packed crowd at San Diego Comic Con on Thursday, where the remake's wildly entertaining first 25 minutes were screened prior to a Q&A that additionally featured Ortega, fellow cast members Christina Milian and Reeve Carney and original Rocky Horror executive producer Lou Adler.
"Victoria, do you remember what I told you after the seduction scene?" Ortega interjected. "Say goodbye to Disney."
"I remember when I screen tested I had to -- I was singing with a bunch of different...Rockys," Justice continued. "And I remember I had to crawl over a lot of like oiled-up men and just like serenade them and sing 'Touch Me.' It was an experience."
Little did Justice realize, she really didn't have to do all that.
"Victoria was already cast in our minds but she didn't know it," said Ortega. "And she had to come in and audition with seven Rockys [played in the remake by Staz Nair]....she was in her bra and slip, and she had a really fun day."
Unfortunately for McCartan, his screen test wasn't nearly as interactive.
"That sounds wonderful, her audition consisted of other people. Mine did not," said McCartan, best known for his role on the Disney Channel sitcom Liv and Maddie. "So that looked like me molesting myself on the couch in front of Kenny Ortega and Lou Adler, which was a really intimidating experience."
Awkward audition aside, McCartan told the audience that contrary to the squeaky clean image he cultivated on screen, the role of Brad -- who eventually lets loose with the help of Frank-N-Furter (Laverne Cox) and his carnal band of Transylvanians -- was actually far more in line with his personality than the Disney-fied image he conveyed earlier in his career.
"I think this is way more me than that is," he said. "Which I'm not knocking Disney Channel or anything, obviously I'm so grateful for it. But that was actually more of a departure for me. Whereas Brad was more in my comfort zone."
For Milian's part, playing the role of castle maid Magenta (who's engaged in an incestuous relationship with brother Riff Raff, portrayed here by Carney) wasn't as much of a departure; after all, the singer/actress' breakthrough hit was the sexually-charged 2004 single "Dip It Low."
"Let me just say, the first day we all met in person together...we literally had to look each other in the eye and circle each other as if we were having" -- turns to Ortega -- "what should I call that, Kenny? It wasn't an orgy, but it was something like it," said Milian.
"You were all in the soup together," Ortega cracked.
"Yes. We had to connect," Milian continued. "It was crazy what that first day meant to us...and so I found my Magenta, [and] I found everybody and their body."
While Cox unfortunately didn't make it to the panel, the transgender actress made quite an impression as Frank-N-Furter in the remake's opening 25 minutes, where the character is introduced in a sparkly red number that has to be seen to be believed. It's a great entrance, and Cox's rendition is a worthy variation on the character made famous by Tim Curry in the 1975 original. Speaking of Curry, the legendary actor -- now wheelchair bound after suffering a stroke in 2012 -- memorably appears as the narrator in the new version, and as Ortega tells it, he actively lobbied for a role.
"The biggest [thing] was Tim Curry calling up and saying 'I want to be in the movie,'" said Ortega, delighted. "Can you imagine that day, what that day was like for all of us?"
"He saw it about four days ago, we ran it for him," said Adler, who worked with Curry on the Los Angeles stage production as well as the original movie. "And he said, 'you betcha.' He liked everything about it. He was really happy that we did it."
So why remake a transgressive phenomenon like Rocky Horror for American network television? Adler, who helped shepherd the new version, doled out perhaps the best possible answer to that question.
"There's a lot of Brad and Janets out there that don't go to midnight theater," he said. "And I just thought if we could get it to them, bring it to television, not HBO, but just television, that we could show them what they should know. That was the impetus of why we went to TV with it."
The Rocky Horror Picture Show premieres October 20 on FOX.