HEART MELTER: Quvenzhane Wallis stars with Cameron Diaz and Jamie Foxx in the remake of Annie.CAMERON Diaz has a question.
“How do you say ‘Australia’ if you are Australian?”‘ the Hollywood actress asks at the beginning of an interview in New York last weekend.
I’m not sure if it is a trick question or the rumours are true that Diaz and her rocker boyfriend Benji Madden are planning a wedding in Australia.
I tell Diaz to drop the “li”, insert a “y”, and speed up the delivery of the word.
“Austrayaaaaa,” Diaz, like a true blue Aussie, says.
Sitting alongside Diaz is Jamie Foxx, her co-star in the new Hollywood version of the classic family musical, Annie, and he has the Australian accent down pat.
“Austrayaaaa. G’day mate. How are yaaaa?” Foxx, as if he’s in a pub in Broken Hill, offers.
There’s another reason for all of this Aussie speak.
The new Annie film may be set in New York and have a modern, hip-hop beat with 11-year-old Oscar nominee Quvenzhane Wallis in the title role and producers including rapper Jay Z and power couple Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith.
But, the film could also be dubbed “Aussie Annie”.
Sydney’s Rose Byrne plays the key role of billionaire Will Stacks’ (Foxx) assistant Grace Farrell and Adelaide’s multi-Grammy Award nominated singer-songwriter Sia updated Annie’s classic songs and co-wrote four new songs.
There’s also the Down Under question mark hanging over Annie’s beloved dog, Sandy.
Sandy, real name Marti, was originally scheduled to be put down in a high-kill shelter in Atlanta, but was saved and brought to a New York facility where animal trainer William Berloni found her.
They say Marti is “most likely” a golden retriever/chow mix, but there’s suspicion she may be a dingo.
“She does look like a dingo,” Foxx says.
“That’s true,” Diaz agrees.
Annie director and screenwriter Will Gluck says he wasn’t sure if Marti had somehow trekked from the Australian outback to the Atlanta shelter, but he was thankful for the heavy Australian input on Annie, which was born from the 1885 poem Little Orphan Annie.
“Sia was just going to do one song and she was so great,” Gluck said.
“We became good friends and I begged her to do another song and another song and I said to her, ‘You know you’re going to do all of the songs for this movie’ and she said, ‘Yes, I know’.”
The publicity-shy Sia, who posed for a Billboard magazine cover with a paper bag on her head and performs live on TV with her back to the audience, also makes a cameo in the film.
“No she didn’t,” Gluck says when asked if Sia wrote the songs with a bag on her head.
“But, she’s in the movie.
“She has a speaking part in the movie so that will be a little Easter egg for the Aussies and of course Rose Byrne, I made her do an English accent, sadly for you guys, but Rose is our Aussie hero.”
Byrne, her real-life boyfriend American actor Bobby Cannavale, Wells and Diaz all stepped out of their comfort zones to sing and dance in the film.
That may scare Diaz fans who watched her singing karaoke in 1997’s My Best Friend’s Wedding.
“I worked, really, really, really hard,” a defensive Diaz, who plays the cruel foster home owner Miss Colleen Hannigan, says.
“I did a lot of vocal training and I didn’t give my worst voice.
“I gave my best voice.
“In My Best Friend’s Wedding I gave my worst voice and, mind you, to have that kind of a voice in My Best Friend’s Wedding, you have to be able to kind of sing.”
Annie opensin cinemas on Thursday