If it weren’t for Laverne Cox, we might never get to do the time warp again. Cox, who rose to fame playing an inmate on Orange Is the New Black, is set to star as the nefarious mad scientist Dr. Frank N. Furter in FOX’s upcoming remake of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. In an interview for Playbill, Laverne Cox revealed what drew her to the project.
“I saw [Rocky Horror] and this character called Dr. Frank N. Furter, and I saw myself. It was so unbelievably transformative for me,” Cox explained.
The clip also showcases Laverne Cox in costume as the scientist, wearing a variety of brightly colored wigs and patterned tights. Cox’s dance moves are also on display, as the star struts her stuff in rehearsal footage.
The choice of casting Laverne Cox, who is transgender and an outspoken activist for the LGBTQ+ community, was a strategic one. “As soon as we cast Laverne Cox, we made a statement that we are doing this movie again for the twenty-first century,” stated Gail Berman, executive producer of the project.
In fact, the Rocky Horror Picture Show remake might not even be happening if it weren’t for Laverne Cox. The director of the remake, Kenny Ortega, explained that “there had to be a real reason at the center of this project that would inspire us all and give us the courage to move forward with this idea… Suddenly the name ‘Laverne Cox’ came to us.” Without a star like Laverne Cox attached to it, the remake might still be languishing in development.
Unfortunately, some believe that casting Laverne Cox was a poor decision. Mari Brighe writes for Flavorwire that “with [Laverne Cox] playing the lead role, there’s a subtle but potentially very damaging conflation of crossdressers with trans women… The once sexually subversive Rocky Horror Picture Show becomes simply a tool for the re-entrenchment of oppressive and harmful tropes about transgender people.” In other words, Laverne Cox’s identity as a transgender woman is at odds with her playing the cross-dressing Dr. Frank N. Furter.
However, Laverne Cox’s statements seem to refute this claim. In response to the criticism, Cox told ET Online that she is proud of her performance and of the character chosen for her. “People can be very… challenging and critical, but I put everything I had into this. I gave 250 percent, and I hope people like what we came up with,” Cox said.
Even the Rocky Horror Picture Show Fan Club president agrees with Cox: “He met me and he said, ‘I’m so excited. I think you’re absolutely the perfect person to do this… So, hardcore Rocky fans seem to be on board with this, and that means the world to me.” Cox’s statements should set the minds of activists and fans alike at ease.
Cox has also expressed excitement over the role on social media, sharing Instagram videos and images of herself in costume.
Laverne Cox’s costars were also quick to jump to her defense. The cast of The Rocky Horror Picture Show sat for an interview with Entertainment Weekly during San Diego Comic-Con and revealed their hopes for Laverne Cox in the role.
Victoria Justice, who plays Janet Weiss, stated that “people are gonna be so surprised by what [Laverne Cox] vocally did with the character. She’s the definition of fierce.”
Laverne Cox will certainly have to be fierce to do justice to Dr. Frank N. Furter, who sings about being a “Sweet Transvestite” and a “Wild and Untamed Thing” while attempting to seduce everyone available. The role was originally played by cisgender actor Tim Curry, and Laverne Cox’s take on the character seems more colorful and playful. In promotional pictures and videos, Cox is often outfitted in flamboyant, sparkling lingerie.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do The Time Warp Again will premiere October 20 on FOX and stars Laverne Cox, Victoria Justice, Ryan McCarten, and Reeve Carney.
[Image via FOX]