While celebrating the world premiere of his film This Is It, a concert documentary about Michael Jackson’s last tour, director Kenny Ortega spoke to EW.com about his departure from the anticipated remake of Footloose. The director explained that he was “exhausted” from directing This Is It and “wanted to take a few deep breaths and relax before I resurface.”
“It was not planned,” Ortega continued. “None of this was happening when I started working on Footloose with Paramount. I honestly love the team I was working with on it—Craig Zadan, Brad Weston, Neil Meron and Dylan Sellers, the actors. It had been a wonderful couple of years developing the idea, but I really need to take a break. I wish them all the luck in the world.”
Ortega still believes that the film, set to star Chace Crawford (Gossip Girl) and Julianne Hough (Dancing with the Stars), has a lot of potential. “They have a good idea to update it, and Chace and Julianne Hough are going to be an amazing on-screen pair,” he said.
Footloose star Hough is sad to see Ortega leave the project. “He is one of the people who really believed in me in the beginning and championed my being hired,” Hough told EW.com. “I was surprised when he left the project, but I know he is 100 percent committed to everything he does, and he was very close to Michael and he wanted to give his all to this film, and I think it just took a lot out of him. He suffered a big personal loss, and because they went right into making This Is It, he probably hasn’t even had time to process that loss. He probably needed a break and didn’t want to do Footloose unless he could give it his undivided attention.”