The next great dance movie has arrived with ‘Work It.’ HL spoke EXCLUSIVELY with Jordan Fisher about why this film is more than just about dancing, how ‘DWTS’ helped him be a great dance partner, and more.
Get ready to feel the beat because Netflix’s newest movie Work It is going to get you up on your feet. The film will be released on Aug. 7 and follows Quinn Ackerman (Sabrina Carpenter), whose admission to the college of her dreams depends on her performance at a dance competition. She brings together a ragtag group of dancers to take on the best group in school and crosses paths with the dashing and talented Jake Taylor (Jordan Fisher) along the way.
HollywoodLife talked EXCLUSIVELY with Jordan about being a part of another project with dancing at its core. The DWTS winner stressed that this movie is more than just about dance, it’s about people and how change is a good thing. He revealed how he was able to form an incredible partnership with Sabrina for their dance scenes and even talked a little John Ambrose!
Why were you drawn to the role of Jake Taylor and why was Work It something that you really wanted to be a part of?
Jordan Fisher: It came to be pretty early. It came to me probably close to two years ago. It’s a pretty different film. It was still exciting I think from the sense that it was a dance film. It definitely felt very different. Then there was a big rewrite that happened, and it was magic at that point. There were a couple of new characters that were introduced, and that’s when I got very excited about it. Because, ultimately, most people just enjoy dance movies. The ones that I grew up with were Save the Last Dance, You Got Served, Step Up, even Dirty Dancing. There are some things that are typical in a dance film. The fact that they’re usually underdog stories, there’s some sort of love interest, that kind of thing. They make you feel good. I think what makes Work It so great is, especially right now, the messaging. Really in the fact that it is a dance film, so dance is going to be the main vehicle, the centerpiece of the table, but it’s really about people. That’s the thing that I love about it. It’s about people. It’s about growth. It’s about evolution as a human and as a person. The main thing I think I really love about it is that the message behind it really is that you can have plans in your life, you can have goals in your life, and they can change. It is absolutely okay that your plans change and your goals shift. They move. Sometimes they evolve, and that can be incited and provoked from a new passion that you find maybe later in your life that you didn’t know ever existed. You can decide that you want to dive into it. That can ultimately make you better as a person, that can introduce you to people that are in your life for forever. It’s a beautiful thing. Change is great and plans changing and goals changing… those can be very good things. We see that with Quinn and Jake and all of the TBDs. With Jake, you see a guy who was living at the top of the world as a dancer. He was super respected and people loved him. He was very popular in the dance space, and things were great. And then his knee blew out and he found himself in a ditch of his own pity and sorrow. For a lot of people I would say it takes motivation to get out of that, and how you’re motivated can ultimately vary. For Jake, he just needed purpose again. He’s teaching kids to dance at a children’s dance studio. He and everybody else felt like he was very qualified for that, but he needed to be kind of yanked out of it. Sabrina’s character, Quinn, really helps him with that. I think it’s a coming-of-age film that’s a lot about self-discovery. I think the beautiful thing that I love about it is that it is a dance film, but it’s really mainly about people.
Especially with dance, when you’re working with a partner you have to have a really solid connection. What was it like finding that groove with Sabrina and working together to create that dance magic?
Jordan Fisher: I had not done a lot of partner work in my career until Dancing with the Stars, so I have to give a lot of credit to that. Lindsay Arnold is like a sister to me now more than anything, Her family became my family and vice versa. We stayed very close post my winning Dancing with the Stars, and she really is the one that taught me how to connect with a partner and how to be the best kind of base that I can possibly be, especially as a male to a female partner in dance. It’s a really tricky thing, and it takes a lot of time to kind of figure those things out. So I’m grateful that I had my time with Lindsay on Dancing With the Stars to learn that, and then on the other end of it, I think trust is a big thing. Dance can really help you build trust with people. I think that’s why, just as a species, dancers tend to be more affectionate and more passionate and more compassionate. Where artistry is concerned, dancing is probably the most vulnerable thing in terms of expression. You have to just lose your mind and be all heart and soul. Sabrina and I have known each other since like 2013, but we’ve never had to work together on anything. We’ve been around each other and been friends and been supporting one another and all that for a very long time. Being able to get to the dance studio early on was definitely a great foundation for us because we already trusted each other.
What can you tease about the dynamic between Quinn and Jake?
Jordan Fisher: It starts off kind of rocky at the beginning. He’s really uncertain of everything. Ultimately, I think he’s just intrigued with Quinn. Why would this girl who has never danced in her life, who can’t dance to save her life, why is she interested all of a sudden in trying to pull together a team of dancers and compete in one of the most grueling competitions in the dance industry? It just makes no sense. Why me? Why does she come to me in this situation? I think that’s kind of the beginning of all of that. And then, of course, Jake’s a good guy and ultimately needs purpose I think to pull himself out of the ditch of his own self-pity, like I was saying earlier. We all need purpose. We all need a reason, and he finally got that. Quinn and Jazz kind of yank him out of that ditch and give him a reason again. With his feelings towards Quinn, I think a lot of that is provoked by her helping him.
You’re obviously very familiar with dancing now after Dancing with the Stars, Hamilton, and now Work It. What does dance mean to you here and now?
Jordan Fisher: Here and now it’s the same thing as all art. Art is precious to me. Going back to my plans and goals changing, I was a gymnast all of my childhood. It was all I did. All I really knew was wake up, go to school, go to the gym, train, go home, finish homework, go to bed, wake up the next morning, rinse and repeat. That was it until I got bit by the bug. Art got me. It just got me, and I understood art with acting, singing, dancing, and creativity in general. All of it is deeply meaningful to me and is what drives me daily. But I think especially right now, we need it. We just need it. We need joy. We need stimulation in whatever way we can get it. I think that this film, particularly in the fact that it’s a dance film and it’s a feel-good movie, you just feel great at the end of the film. That is such an important thing, and I think a lot of people need that right now.
You obviously learned a lot on the technical side of Dancing With the Stars. Is there anything throughout the Work It experience that you learned about dance or even just about yourself?
Jordan Fisher: It just reinvigorated my passion for it in general. I’m not dancing as much as I used to, I just don’t have the time to anymore. I don’t really have the time to take classes anymore. Thankfully, my career leads me to avenues where I can dance again whenever I can be stimulated in that way and surrounded by dancers where that’s what they do with their life and you know how hard they work. It just reinvigorated my passion for it, and I’m so grateful to be a part of it.
Are you currently working on new music right now?
Jordan Fisher: I am working on the music kind of all the time. It’s interesting right now with how we’re managing things during COVID and during quarantine. It’s a lot of Zoom meetings and sessions and a lot of development things right now, but once things start to get lifted in a safe way, I’m excited to get back out and start making these things again.
To All The Boys: P.S. I Still Love You came out earlier this year and fans fell in love with John Ambrose. Do you think his story’s over?
Jordan Fisher: As a fan of John Ambrose and a fan of Lara Jean, I hope not. I think that there’s a world where John Ambrose and Lara Jean could totally meet back up at some point in time later in their life and maybe even up together. I think Peter’s the now guy. Peter’s the high school guy, and I feel like John Ambrose is husband material.
The To All The Boys fandom is such a passionate group. You’ve been a part of many different fandoms, but what’s it been like experiencing the To All The Boys universe?
Jordan Fisher: I’m grateful. I know that the description of John Ambrose in the book is very different than what you saw in the film, and I’m grateful that people liked my take. As an actor, what you really want to do is, especially if there’s a character that already exists in literature, is to be able to breathe life into him and give him a voice and give him a face and give him mannerisms. I’m just grateful that the fans that have been there from the beginning, especially the fans that read the books before the movies even came out, liked my take on John Ambrose.