No easy feat to wake up residents suffering an Art Basel hangover, but the cast of the new Annie movie did just that on Tuesday morning. Four stars from the latest incarnation of the classic orphan tale — Quvenzhané Wallis, Cameron Diaz, Jamie Foxx and Bobby Cannavale — were at Bayside Marketplace (along with the film’s director Will Gluck), where Mayor Tomas Regalado declared Dec. 9 “Annie Day.”
You’ll notice some changes: Quvenzhané’s Annie is an abandoned foster child; Foxx, in the Daddy Warbucks role, is Stacks, a germaphobic cellphone mogul running for Mayor of New York.
Diaz is not your mother’s Miss Hannigan, famously played by Carol Burnett in the 1982 film, which in turn was based on the 1977 Broadway musical inspired by the Depression-era comic strip. Though hard drinking is still an issue — a Big Gulp-sized cup is a prop — her beyond bitter character is a failed rock star.
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You may recognize shades of Diaz from her hilarious turn as a slutty sot in 2010’s Bad Teacher. “She definitely has the spirit — the aggressiveness toward children,” laughed Diaz, speaking to press at the Soho Beach House. “It’s fun to play people like that and just go for it when you have the opportunity.”
The singing was a bit of a stretch for the star of such movies as There’s Something About Mary, In Her Shoes and The Other Woman. “It was a little more work for me in terms of the vocals,” admitted Diaz, who also has a dancing scene with Cannavale, who plays Guy, Stacks’ ruthless campaign manager. “I had more confidence in the dancing.”
As for Cannavale, who grew up in Coconut Creek, he relished playing the reprehensible baddie who will go to extremes to get Stacks elected. “I think we’ve all met a Guy at some point in our lives,” he said with a wink. “Just turn on the television and watch some of the Sunday morning shows.”
At least Diaz’s Hannigan redeems herself at the end of the film and finds her soft spot for Annie.
“This little girl who I was just being really hateful toward said my voice was beautiful and didn’t have to say that. And if that was the truth then I am actually lovable. [Hannigan] was punishing herself for not being famous. That’s really her journey.”
Quvenzhané was less introspective.
“I miss the set and my cocoa machine!” said the Oscar-nominated 11-year-old (Beasts of the Southern Wild). “We shot in the new World Trade Center building, and it was so cool.”
If you don’t know how to pronounce Quvenzhané (Kwa-ven-ja-nay), you may want to practice. The preteen was just nominated for a Golden Globe for Annie. The Lousiana native is well aware of the complexities of her name — a mix of her parents Qulyndreia and Venjie Wallis, plus “zhane” means “fairy” in Swahili.
She and Foxx are working on a Christmas carol sung to the tune of Ring Christmas Bells, about how many people get it wrong. Sample lyric: “Quvenzhané. How do you say?”
“It’s gonna go viral!” joked the former In Living Color comedian turned Oscar winner whose 47th birthday was Saturday.
“I think I’m one of the only people in the world with a Q and a Z in their name,” said Quvenzhane. “It’s like I have every letter of the alphabet. I don’t even see a diary with ‘Q’ on it in Justice. C’mon!”
“No. I just saw a keychain with ‘Quvenzhane’ on it,” ribbed Foxx.