February 17, 2013

Movies: Hough tests acting chops with darker roles this year

By AMY KAUFMAN, McClatchy Newspapers

(Continued from page 1)

Safe Haven movie
click image to enlarge

Julianne Hough on the set of “Safe Haven” with director Lasse Hallstrom and co-star Josh Duhamel. Hough says she’s ready to prove that she’s more than “just that chick from the dance show.”

McClatchy Newspapers/Relativity Media

Indeed, the program did lead her to some film roles, including as a wide-eyed, aspiring singer fresh to Hollywood in "Rock of Ages" last year with Tom Cruise.

"I didn't want to go so far out of the box that people who watched me on 'Dancing With the Stars' would be totally freaked out. But also it was like, well, I'm not really getting offers for 'Silver Linings Playbook,'" Hough admitted, referring to David O. Russell's Oscar-nominated dramedy featuring Jennifer Lawrence.

Hough will follow "Safe Haven" with Cody's film, in which she stars as an evangelical Christian who renounces her religion and embarks on a wild night out in Las Vegas. Cody said she considered virtually every well-known actress between the ages of 18 and 27 for the role before Hough won everyone over with her audition tape.

"You had the Jennifer Lawrences and Emma Stones -- people who have the commercial and critical heat on them -- but the funny thing is that after everyone saw Julianne's tape, they all agreed she was the best," Cody said.

Hough also had the least experience of anyone up for "Safe Haven," said her costar, Duhamel. She initially auditioned for the role with the actor via Skype, and the producers weren't sold on her, but Duhamel -- who was already attached to the project -- urged Hallstrom to let her try out in person.

"I said, 'If you're in person, there's a lot more going on than you would think -- especially for a girl that beautiful who doesn't have a lot of experience,'" he said. Though Hough said executives at Relativity Media, the studio behind the film, told her that she'd "had her shot and it was going to be a tough thing for (her) to get back in there," she eventually convinced them otherwise.

The actress has exhibited bullheadedness in other areas of her life too. Her boyfriend of three years, 38-year-old "American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest, had to pursue Hough for months before she decided to overlook his celebrity and go out on a date with him.

"She really resisted going out with him," said Adam Shankman, who directed Hough in "Rock of Ages." "But he is so madly in love with her that he treats her like beautiful blown glass -- she is so precious to him."

The actress says Seacrest often offers her career advice. "On the business end of things, he's like, 'Don't let people ... you. Make sure you've got good people around you to get you the best deal,"' she said, imitating his voice.

As for her conservative father, Hough said he doesn't have as big an issue with the couple's 14-year age difference as he does with the fact that they live together.

"He won't stay at our house," Hough said.She's more than a pretty face and nimble feet, she insists, and her past is not all sweetness and light.


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