- January 2001

 Julia Stiles - Star of Save the Last Dance 

Julia, it's so nice to meet you. Congratulations. Wonderful job on Save the Last Dance. And I really mean that. I want to begin, I grew up on the south side of Chicago.


The setting for Save the Last Dance. And I went to high school close to where this film was shot, I'm sure. I felt like the city is almost like a character.

It is definitely.

Do you agree with that?

Yes, and that's why we wanted to shoot in Chicago. [As] opposed to a stage or in LA or something. The environment that these kids grow up in, impacts their lives so much.

There's so much talent there. It's untapped really to a certain degree. We think of the performing arts school in New York City. But there's also one in Chicago that develops a lot of talent.

Yes, and Chicago is such a fun city, too. I think the excitement and energy that it has is expressed in the movie.

The energy in that club. Was it the "Crowbar" or something like that?

Oh yeah, the Crowbar. The Crowbar was actually like this weird gothic club that they redressed it to make it look hip-hop and reggae.

The club in the movie is the energy too. It just bounces off the screen.

Yeah, and I remember when we were shooting that, I walked up to Tom in the middle of the movie and said, "This is so exciting! This is great." It was like a party practically and I was getting paid to be there.

Now, your character Sarah is from a small town, in Illinois, and there is a tragedy in her life. I don't want to give too much of it away. She moves in with her dad who was a jazz musician on the south side of Chicago, who works the loop area, the downtown area a lot. And you attend high school in the south side of Chicago, my old neighborhood. But, [you're] a fish out of water. It's more than the ballet versus freeform or whatever. It's [being] a fish out of water, small town, versus big city. Would you agree?

Yeah, I definitely think my character is very suburban and... she comes from a very sheltered background. As I was watching it, I was saying, "Wow, I look pretty nerdy." And she comes to this place where culturally everyone has been exposed to so much more, that I definitely think that she's a fish out of water. But everyone can relate to that, especially in high school where everyone is trying to fit in so much.

Right, regardless of where it's at.


You work so well dancing with Sean Patrick Thomas. I imagine a lot of rehearsal and a lot of training for this.

Yeah, I did. That was actually one of the main reasons why I wanted to do this movie. It was because of the opportunity to study with Fatima and Randy Duncan.

Fatima's the choreographer?

Fatima's the hip-hop choreographer and Randy's the ballet. To train, in terms of the dance, is really exciting for me. And I told them from the beginning, I want to train really hard and I don't care if my toes bleed. Cause I love to dance. I did a month and a half of training, six hours a day, before we started shooting. I would also do the choreography on the weekends.

Well you make it very believable and I just felt the pain and the ballet and the kids and all that. But there's some nice issues in this film; interracial dating, father-daughter relationships. I thought that was very nice.

I think the best thing of the movie is that it walks that fine line where it has it's really fun and exciting moments and the serious issues that it brings up. But it doesn't preach about them either. It just sort of presents them.

It's there. I want to thank you so much. I am totally out of time. I want to tell our viewers, whether you like dance or not, to go see this film, Save the Last Dance. Thank you so much, Julia!

Thank you!

Article by Jim Ferguson
Originally published at - Posted on January 2001