In 1983 the world was introduced to Nicolas Cage in his first featured role as Randy in the cult classic Valley Girl. With musicals becoming popular more recently it was only a matter of time before Valley Girl got its remake. It has been quite the journey to find the right cast and crew to do the remake and honor the original. Josh Whitehouse details his journey from casting to his favorite scenes recreating this iconic film.
Nancy Tapia: Well let’s talk about Valley Girl. What was the process of getting this role?
Josh Whitehouse: Actually, I first heard about this remake, about five years ago. I understand the project was trying to be made for about 10 years. We went through several different directors. I met with Cassidy Lange from MGM around five years ago, along with Clay Wiener, who was originally in line to direct, and we had a chat about it and they thought I could be a cool Randy. But I never had anything more about it until about two years later when a script turned up in my inbox again. I thought the project had just been given to someone else or something, or maybe I just didn’t get it or it wasn’t happening. But I was like, Oh, it’s back there way so I just sent my tape off and ended up talking to the director, Rachel, who gave me some brilliant advice about how she felt I could play Randy.
I gave it a shot. So I took that on board and we went back and forth quite a bit just experimenting and where ideas of how that character could be played. Eventually, I started filming myself doing punk songs, I put them in black and white. I filmed them at a crazy angle, jumping around the bedroom going completely nuts. And I guess they will think this is the guy. Then eventually I came out to LA to do a screen test with Jess and then the day after that I got the job, which was really, really exciting.
Nancy Tapia: This is a role where you include, acting, dancing and singing. How did you maneuver those three challenges for your scenes?
Josh Whitehouse: I mean, we were lucky to be working with a fantastic choreographer, Mandy Moore and assistant Scott, who really kind of guided everybody through the process in terms of what is going to work on screen in terms of movement, singing and performance. I worked with a vocal coach, Bob Garrett, who was absolutely brilliant, and really helped me to learn more about singing. Cause I taught myself music and singing my whole life, but never really took any training. So it was really useful for me to then meet and talk to professionals who could help me get to the next level. Embodying the three was a very interesting experience really because, certainly being in a musical is different to being in a band, performing a song on stage, trying to get your head around music and words coming from a feeling rather than rather than just performing a song because the two are very different. So, it was very interesting and a big challenge here. I had to get my head around that, but the more I understood the way it works and once we’ve done one a few songs, I was kinda just wanting more.
Nancy Tapia: So, which scene would you say you enjoyed the most? Any with the musical numbers?
Josh Whitehouse: I probably enjoyed doing Take On Me the most. We go to shoot on this carousel and Randy in particular, I mean his musical numbers generally, whereas everybody else’s was big dancing numbers, choreographed balloons and extras everywhere. And all that sort of stuff. Whereas a lot of Randy’s musical scene, he was either on a stage performer, but his band or jumping around and mushing and you know, it was less choreographed. So I think for me, one of the most enjoyable was when we did Take On Me and we used the carousel and we actually got to choreograph more. So it was a conversation physically between Julia and Randy.
Nancy Tapia: So how was it working with Jessica Rothe? I mean, she had done musicals before.
Josh Whitehouse: Yeah, she was great to work with. Of course. She came to this with grace, passion, preparedness, and always had a smile on her face. She was very kind and an easy person to work with and get to know. It wasn’t hard to create a connection on set.
Nancy Tapia: What location do you think you enjoyed the most during filming?
Josh Whitehouse: I think one of my favorite locations from filming was probably right at the beginning of the movie when you see the punks for the first time up on a Hill in Hollywood that overlooks the whole city. I mean we had some pretty crazy nights, it was nice because we were out at three o’clock in the morning and missed set in and you couldn’t really see your hand out in front of you. But it wasn’t always the ideal location to be filming. But there were certain moments when, I think right at the end when we’re singing Under Pressure, there’s a scene where Randy sitting right at the top of the Hill and the view from up there was just so stunning. You could see all the Hollywood and sunset so I think that was one of the locations.
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Nancy Tapia: Great.Do you happen to have a favorite spot in the Valley?
Josh Whitehouse: I didn’t really spend a great deal of time out in the Valley except when onsite at Julie’s house. Then in the high school I thought it was really fun. Getting to shoot at the high school and really, I mean as an Englishman the inside of an American high school up in the Valley was really cool to me, that I could see myself hanging out there. It was certainly interesting to me here to check out what a high school would be like right here.
Nancy Tapia: Had you seen the 1983 version of the film before?
Josh Whitehouse: Yeah, when I first read the script for the movie, I decided it would be a good idea to watch the original because I was aware of it as a remake and, yeah, I loved the original so much. I watched it several times. I just thought it had such a great role, a gritty energy about it, of what it was like to be a teenage youth in high school, falling in love, going to parties, getting in fights, like all of that sort of stuff. The drama back then, and I mean I can speak on behalf of, knowing what it was like to be in the eighties, but I felt like that really rang true from the original and that was something that is special about it.
Nancy Tapia: After you watched the 1983 Valley girl for the first time, what scene would you say you were looking forward to filming?
Josh Whitehouse: Probably when they fall out and have an argument, and Nicholas says “Like Totally” off his car. I think that was kind of looking forward to having that moment.
Nancy Tapia: So how did it feel knowing you were going to be playing Nicholas Cage character? A character that every eighties kid remembers?
Josh Whitehouse: Yeah, it really was. I had a moment of disbelief for sure. I couldn’t really, I find it quite hard to actually believe that I was going to be doing that. I was like, am I really going to be playing Randy in Valley Girl? I know obviously it was kind of intimidating stepping into such big shoes. You know, Nicholas Cage’s, he’s a hero and so it was intimidating, but I wanted to honor his performance and do what I could to try and emulate some of his American classic coolness. But I also wanted to try and bring my own energy as well.
Nancy Tapia: Well you did great, congratulations. I definitely enjoyed your character and just to kind of finalize, is there something you can share when it comes to being a leading role in the game of Thrones prequel series? Anything you may be able to say?
Josh Whitehouse: I mean, all I can really is that it was a very exciting prospect. I was really, truly honored to be considered for such a thing. And the fact that I got the role for me means the world. They were looking at several different prequels and, some of them got cut. So, I mean, I didn’t even get to do the pilot in the end because I was supposed to come in episode two. So I didn’t step for on set in the end. But the fact that they considered me and that I was supposed to be on board for that was a huge honor. And, you know what? I’m sad that it didn’t happen, but at the same time, now I get to work on Daisy Jones And The Six. Which I’m equally excited about and looking forward to being a part of that.
Valley Girl will be available on digital demand May 8th.
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