Billy Magnussen and MacKenzie Mauzy “Into the Woods” Interview

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Oh Meryl Streep, is absolutely amazing!  But, I get ahead of myself.  Let’s start at the beginning….

“Into the Woods” hits theaters on Christmas Day and is the film adaptation of the Tony award-winning, Broadway production.  The story intertwines the plots of the beloved Brothers Grimm fairy tales: Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk and Rapunzel.  And, adds a new story – the baker and his wife’s quest to have a child which is thwarted by a curse from the witch next door.

Seasoned actors spread across the film including Meryl Streep (witch), Johnny Depp (wolf) and Christine Baranski (stepmother).  They mingle with a younger generation of actors like Anna Kendrick (Cinderella) and Chris Pine (Cinderella’s Prince).  Then there are those that are completely new to film in MacKenzie Mauzy (Rapunzel) and Billy Magnussen (Rapunzel’s Prince).

I had the opportunity to sit down with MacKenzie and Billy and get their take on “Into the Woods”.   You can read through a portion of the interview below and scroll down to read my review of the film.


Interview with MacKenzie Mauzy (MM) and Billy Magnussen (BM) – AKA Rapunzel & Rapunzel’s Prince in “Into the Woods”:


What’s it like to film a movie and then not be able to see it until a year and a half later?

BM: It’s like baking a cake and not being able to eat it.  You just look at it.


What were your favorite fairy tales growing up?

MM: “Beauty and the Beast” and “Cinderella”

BM: “Cinderella”, I really love that story.  I remember growing up with the VHS, the mice, the stepmother…Lucifer….


How about favorite fairy tale characters?

MM:  I’ve grown to have an affinity for Rapunzel.

BM:  If Wall-E was a fairy tale character that’s who mine would be.  I want to play Wall-E so bad.  But, Rapunzel is great and so is Jack in the Beanstalk.


How was it working with Sondheim?

BM:  Sondheim is a master.  With “Into the Woods” he puts a palate of so many wonderful colors in front of you and you get to play with it.  Chris Pine and I were recording with a 50 piece orchestra in London and Sondheim walks in and says, “Remember, it’s a love story.”  We thank him for the advice and continue on.  At the end, I think we did well because when we looked into the recording booth he was snoring!


Both of your backgrounds are in theater.  Did you find it difficult to transition to film?

BM:  We had a month of rehearsals before principle shooting.  We got to, in a sense, rehearse like a play.  We were able to make moments out of everything and dig deeper into the text.

MM: It gave us confidence and released us on filming day to have fun and explore a little.

BM: For example for ‘Agony’, you can rehearse but you have no idea what is going to happen until you get on to the waterfall.

MM: Right, and then there’s the horse and snakes.


Let’s talk a little about ‘Agony’.  Everyone in my theater was laughing out loud.  Where you laughing on set?

BM:  It was very hard to keep a straight face.  Chris Pine and I spent most of the time trying to throw each other off.  He is an immensely talented actor and I can only hope that there is a blooper reel somewhere!


What do you feel about “Into the Woods” originally being a play and now turned into film?

BM: This is it’s own piece of art.  It is not the play.  It’s a film that Rob Marhsall adapted.  It should be looked at as it’s own identity and it’s own piece of magic.

MM: There’s a new respect for theater movies because of the work that is being done to create a great piece on film.  And, we have the ability to tell the story to a new group of people who would never enter a playhouse.


How did you end up with the roles?

BM:  I was doing “Vanya” at Lincoln Center and I shared a dressing room with David Hyde Pierce.  It’s after the show and the door opens and it’s Meryl Streep!  She congratulated me and I heard through the grapevine that she talked to Rob Marshall and Mark Platt about me being the prince.  So, I got the audition through that.  Then at the first read through, Meryl Streep says, “You know, I got you this role.”

MM:  I did it old school, I auditioned.


What was it like working with Meryl Streep?

BM: I remember the moment I realized that Meryl Streep works the camera.  She works the angels and throws intention with every look.

MM: She is a wonderfully giving person.  There is no ego to her and she is just warm and wonderful.


Any of this new celebrity catching up with you yet?

BM:  I’m waiting for the point where they go, “Billy you don’t know what you’re doing.” and I say, “Yeah, you finally caught me!”

Billy Magnussen and MacKenzie Mauzy take time for a press photo after the interview (I’m all the way to the right!)


“Into the Woods” Review

Fans of “Into the Woods” will thoroughly enjoy the film.  New comers to the story will find it long but find themselves entranced in the colors, imagery and captivating performances.  Meryl Streep is this movie.  She pulls in the audience, delivers solid scenes every single time and does not fail in pulling together the string of multiple fairy tales going on at the same time.

The movie is for older tweens (ages 10+) and preferably those that enjoy musicals.  My twelve year old daughter and I enjoyed the film.  We both agreed that it was a bit long but the final theme – that life is not a fairy tale and doesn’t have a perfectly happy ending – was exactly on point.

Take the grandparents, aunts, uncles and children over age 10 to see “Into the Woods” during the Christmas holiday and you will not be disappointed.

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