If you're looking for a sign that 2020 might *just* be turning around, look no further than Netflix's new dance-centric film Work It. The movie comes out this Friday, August 7, and the hype is real. ICYMI, the film follows high school senior Quinn Ackerman, played by none other than Sabrina Carpenter, as she attempts to lead her dance team to a competition win in order to bolster her chances of being admitted to the college of her dreams. One small challenge: Quinn isn't a dancer.
Enter Jordan Fisher as Jake Taylor, a talented-but-troubled choreographer and dancer, to help Quinn lead the team. We had the chance to speak with Fisher about his experience on set, and why Work It just might be the dance movie we've all been waiting for.
Dance Spirit: Why should Dance Spirit readers be excited to watch Work It?
Jordan Fisher: The movie is littered with incredible talent from the dance world, that's a given—it's a dance movie. And we haven't had too many dance movies in recent history. I grew up with movies like Save the Last Dance, and Honey, and the Step Up series, even Footloose and Dirty Dancing. All of those movies informed my love and passion for film and for dance. So, I think that it's a modern dance movie is really exciting.
DS: What was it like working with Sabrina Carpenter and Liza Koshy on the film?
JF: Love them both so much. I've known Sabrina for forever. We've been friends since, like, 2013, but we've never actually worked on anything together aside from a few things we did for Disney Channel when we were both working there. So, working together on this project was really exciting for the both of us, having been longtime friends.
And I've been a fan of Liza's since her very first video on Vine, and I've followed her career ever since, so I was beyond thrilled to get to work with her. She's just a ray of sunshine—so kind, so warm, so stupidly talented, and so remarkably funny, so working with her made for some really great days on set.
Fisher with Work It co-star Sabrina Carpenter (Brendan Adam-Zwelling/Netflix)
DS: Do you have a favorite behind-the-scenes memory with them?
JF: Honestly, there were a couple of scenes where Laura Terruso, our director, wanted Liza to just be Liza. She would have Liza improvise, go off-script, and for me, trying to stay in character while she was doing that was the hardest acting exercise I've ever done. She is just so funny.
DS: What was it like working with choreographer Aakomon Jones?
JF: He's incredible. Aakomon is just a walking vibe, and he cultivated such a great space for us to rehearse in. He's so full of love, so full of passion where dance is concerned, and even more where people are concerned, and it made for such a great environment on set.
DS: Do you have a personal favorite part of the film?
JF: There's this great dance sequence that I got to be a part of that D-Trix actually choreographed for this one specific moment: Sabrina and Liza's characters find a video online while they're trying to look up information on my character, Jake Taylor. They come across this dance video that "Jake" choreographed, but it was all D-Trix, of course, and it's so awesome. It was some of the most challenging dancing I did in the movie—we did some stunting and tricking that I hadn't done in such a long time, but D-Trix was just like, 'I know you can do this because I know you, so let's just throw it, let's just make it happen,' and I'm so proud of how it turned out.
DS: What was it like working with D-Trix on this movie?
JF: It was such a blast. We have a ton of mutual friends, from the "So You Think You Can Dance" world and just from being a part of the dance industry, but we've never actually had a chance to work together before. We clicked immediately, and understood each other, so we had a ton of fun putting that number together. We actually added that scene in as a part of reshoots, after we wrapped on principal photography, so I had to fly back from New York—we spent a full day in the studio, learning the routine, and then shot it the next day, and had so much fun doing it.
DS: What was the biggest challenge for you working on this project?
JF: A couple of things—I was actually working on a few different projects at the same time, so that was a new experience for me, having to fly in and out so much. I had to work really hard to stay engaged with the film because of that, so that was a personal challenge for me, and one that I'm really proud of myself for accomplishing.
Where the film itself was concerned, I've done a couple of movie-musical type projects, and they're really difficult. Shooting dance sequences is grueling. You spend all day, all night, just doing the same chunks of dances over, and over, and over again, having to go back and start over, and all of a sudden, it's 3 a.m. and we have to pretend like we're starting the number for the very first time. It's a mental and physical challenge that's not for the faint of heart, but the finished product is so satisfying.
DS: We have to ask, since you were so great as John Ambrose McClaren—are there any similarities between this movie and To All The Boys: P.S. I Still Love You?
JF: Not too many similarities, other than the fact that it's a Netflix film! I'm playing a totally different character—you know, John Ambrose doesn't dance! But at the end of the day, John Ambrose, and Jake, my character in Work It, are both really good guys. Jake is a little more troubled, a little more frustrated with life than John Ambrose is, but I would say that watchers will be able to celebrate for Jake in the end a little more than they could for John Ambrose—no spoilers though!
DS: What do you hope viewers will take away from Work It?
JF: The main message I hope people take away is that it's okay if plans change. We might have goals in our lives, and we might be working really hard to cultivate those goals, but it's okay if those goals shift or change, due to the people that you meet, or a new passion you develop—those things are actually really great. Life throws you curveballs, and how you navigate that is entirely up to you.