“I met Kyra Sedgwick at the Golden Globes,” recalls Hough of encountering the awards-gathering TV star who also happens to be Mrs. Bacon. “Kevin was right there and I said hi. I said, 'Hey, we're doing "Footloose." We just finished it.' And then I got really nervous.”
Hough tells PopcornBiz she found her way into the rebellious spirit of the “Footloose” storyline by remembering when she had to buck the odds herself to pursue her dreams, after a teenage tour of Europe finely honed her dancing skills (she was an international Latin dance champion by 15). “I wanted to move back from London when I was 15 and my whole life was dancing there,” she recalls. “I would've continued down that path and been this kind of dancer, but like I really wanted to act and sing. So I moved back. The people that were there were like, 'You're crazy! Don't move back. You're going to amount to nothing and work at Whataburger,' and all this stuff. So I fought for what I believed in and I moved. I really believed in myself to do it.”
Her belief in herself led her to several seasons as one of the professional choreographers and celebrity dance partners on “Dancing With the Stars,” and after winning two Mirror Ball trophies she stuck to her big-picture dreams by adding “singer” (with a self-titled 2008 country album) and “movie actress” (with a role in “Burlesque”) to her resume. But once again she had to stick to her guns to nab – and hold onto – the “Footloose” role originated by Lori Singer.
“I got the movie when it was going to be the [original director] Kenny Ortega version,” she recalls, “and then when that all fell apart I read Craig Brewer's version and I thought, 'Oh, wow – This is what this movie should be.' He had the option of casting whoever he wanted. I think that he was kind of hoping that he could do that. I went and talked to him and convinced him and fought for it. I did a whole scene for him and I basically cried my way into the role. He hired me then, on the spot.”
Because of her confidence in her dance ability, Hough says she was more intent on nailing her acting footwork, particularly in a dramatic confrontation with her character’s dance-oppressing minister father, played by Dennis Quaid. “The most emotional scene was definitely the one in the church with Dennis, because that was very real for me,” she says. “It came a little bit natural to me to say all those things and to feel all those emotions, definitely. Physically that was an emotional day and you're exhausted, so that was tough.”
Her Hollywood dance card remains full: next up is director Adam Shankman’s film adaptation of the musical “Rock of Ages,” opposite Tom Cruise. “We had so much fun,” she says. “We kept everything that you loved from the play and then took the things that were a little like 'Whoa. How is that going to translate on the big screen?' – We took that out and put some cool other things in there, too. So it's really fun and really crazy. Most of my scenes are with Tom, and with Mary J. Blige and Diego Boneta. Tom’s incredible, he really is. He's so committed to everything he does, and I saw him as a rock star.”
Meanwhile, she’s got a second country album in the bag and awaiting release – “Maybe,” she says. “I mean, it's done. It's been a while since it's been done, and so I'm like, 'Well, I kind of want to rewrite some new things.' I would rather just release it online and just let fans hear the music that I already have, that I can't publish – but my label would get really mad.”