HitTheFloorJamesLarosa1[Photo Credit: James LaRosa]
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HitTheFloorJamesLarosa2[Photo Credit: James LaRosa]
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HitTheFloorJamesLaRosaEpisode3[Photo Credit: James LaRosa]
HitTheFloorJamesLaRosaEpisode4[Photo Credit: James LaRosa]
Hit The Floor was our summer go-to whenever we needed to watch sexy people dance in a sexy way. We cried each time Kimberly Elise appeared on screen to reflect on her past, and became deeply invested in the corrupt inner workings of the Los Angeles Devils organization. But, like everything else that’s good and juicy in entertainment, the season finale left us with a lot of questions.
HTF may be on hiatus right now, but that doesn’t mean its cast and crew isn’t currently hard at work crafting even more exciting material for Season Two. For what to expect when Queen Bee Jelena Howard and newly minted director Sloane Hayes face off inside Devils Arena, as well as who’s the biggest joker on and off the set, check out our exclusive chat with the HTF creator, James LaRosa, below.
The cast can’t stop talking about how much they love you and trust your writing. Has anyone made specific requests for what they want their character to do next season?
Aww. I love them, too. They really don’t. I think they love the surprise of the show as much as viewers do. When we email the scripts to the cast you can hear them screaming all around the stages as they’re reading them. I remember I was talking to Kimberly Elise, who was shooting a scene when the scripts were released and hadn’t had a chance to read yet. Taylour Paige comes bounding from the make-up trailer screaming and dancing in her face, “Oh my God I can’t believe what you do at the beginning of Episode 107!” For the record, that was Sloane’s marathon nookie session with Pete. The cast love everyone else’s stories as much as their own and they love being along for the ride. Which inspires me and makes me want to freak them out more.
Where do you find inspiration when you’re writing? How did you come up with the Mia plot, for example?
Music is a big inspiration for me. Each character and each couple on Hit The Floor has their own theme song. The actors don’t know what they are–no one does. But it puts me in the right zone. I also draw from my own life–not necessarily literally, but emotionally. If someone broke my heart, I might not write exactly how it went down, but the confusion or misery or my jackass response can find its way into a storyline. Writing is therapy for me.
The Mia storyline came about because we wanted a mystery, something that spoke to how treacherous this world can be. We have Ahsha desperate to be a part of this world while this poor Mia girl is desperate to get out. As it developed, it wound up getting darker than I thought it would. The husband of the Devil Girls Director raping her? But I can’t help where my mind goes. I could write a Disney movie and eventually the princess will go off a bridge.
After the overwhelming response to Season One and the renewal, do you feel pressure to make everything BIGGER next season?
Pressure? No. Opportunity? Yes. I grew up on Dallas, Dynasty, and Melrose Place. Big is in my blood. But it’s all meaningless if you’re not invested in the characters. Thanks to our actors and our writers, though, you absolutely are. So in Season Two we’re taking everyone to hell and back. Well, back to bed. Emphasis on bed.
Are there any regrets from Season One? Are there storylines you felt didn’t go where you wanted them to, or plots you want to focus on more in Season Two?
We write everything in advance, so we never have a scenario where we’re locked into something we’re forced to fix midway through. We know exactly what we’re doing in the final minute of the season before we start shooting the first minute. If anything, there are stories I would’ve loved to have told if we had more time. We have 11 characters and only one hour to service them all. That sounded worse than I meant it to. Thank God we got a Season Two!
Will we see any of Jelena’s backstory , or learn more about why she’s so hard?
Um, hell yeah. Get ready to see a whole other side of Jelena Howard. We’ll be yanking out skeletons from all our characters’ closets in Season Two. I have a nuclear-powered group of actors, I can’t let them sit around atrophy. I need to put them to work!
Speaking of, will we see any of Sloane’s dancing days as a Devil Girl? How will being back in that environment affect her?
I’m not big on flashbacks–the actors could be giving the performances of their lives but all you’re thinking of is, “look at them pretending they’re 20 years younger in brokedown wigs.” The present will be dramatic enough with Sloane back in the arena. She’s in a haunted house and her ghosts are flying all around her. She’s got to keep her eye on the prize: Oscar. But it’s easy to get sidetracked with Ahsha, Pete, and (uh-oh) Jelena in her face. Plus, she has an actual job to do, and that’s run the Devil Girls. And Sloane has a very different style than her predecessor.
What were the most difficult scenes to film last season, technically and emotionally?
Technically, shooting any scene in the Devil Girls locker room is suicide-inducing. It’s wall-to-wall mirrors, and cameramen are not vampires. Move one inch the wrong way and there are 10 more people in the scene. And arena dance numbers come with an interesting feature: underneath the floor is an ice rink, so those girls are ice cubes half the time. I have to give a lot of hugs to keep them warm.
Emotionally, the most difficult scene to film–for me–was Sloane and Ahsha’s scene in the ladies’ room at the charity auction. We knew it was coming, this huge moment where Sloane reveals herself to her daughter–and the audience–for the first time. Kimberly Elise is an emotional juggernaut, and Taylour Paige was right there with her. All of us behind the monitors are too cool for school, but we’re wiping tears from our eyes like babies. Ahsha and German’s break-up was also brutal, and Jelena’s breakdown in the locker room. Oh, God, and Ahsha sobbing outside the arena after she learns Pete is her father. I love Taylour to death so seeing her cry like that was breaking my heart. Between takes I wanted to smother Taylour in hugs, and she was like, “Don’t you dare.” I outright tackled her when it was done. Pretty sure there was an insurance claim.
Will the Devils and Devil Girls travel out of town any time soon?
The Devil Girls have danced everywhere but the moon, so in the second season they’ll be taking the team shuttle to outer space for a Gravity-inspired 3D extravaganza. Or we may just stick to another U.S. city. Gotta check the budget.
Was the deleted scene where Ahsha arrives at Devil Girl tryouts at all similar to the process of finding dancers for Hit The Floor?
Casting our Devil Girls (Ahsha, Jelena, Kyle, and Raquel) was insanely difficult, because we needed women who could act, dance, be believable in this world (meaning: be gorgeous and sexy), and embody their character. It took months before we were finally able to sit back, exhale, and smile our stupid faces off. Pretty sure it was stressful for the actresses, too. They had to audition about 300 times before they got the gig.
Given the tiny clothes the Devil Girls wear, have there been any wardrobe malfunctions on set?
Ha! Oh God, yeah. The most common malfunction is the flying cutlet. Cutlets are inserts some of the ladies wear to, how shall we say, enhance their uniforms. We’ll be in the middle of this big dance number and suddenly a cutlet will fly out onto the floor. The dancers don’t even flinch! When the cameras are rolling, they’re like 14 terminators not breaking step. Sometimes they’ll even find a way to snatch it and shove it back in without missing a beat. These are uniquely Hit The Floor problems.
Are there any rituals you or the cast use to pump yourselves up before filming?
The dancers sing TLC’s “Waterfalls” on dance days. I rap Left-Eye’s part. We’re supercool. [Ed. note: They also do “No Scrubs”!]
What are some of your favorite “teams” from television and movies?
The Avengers movie was awesome. And the X-Men movies. I was a comic book nerd, so anything with guys whose clothes burned off when they yelled “Flame on” or big-boobed girls who could throw buses was for me. McKinley Freeman gave me one of the best gifts I’ve ever gotten in my life: a giant framed comic book cover with the Hit The Floor cast as superheroes. Derek has a flaming basketball, Terrence is bigger than the Hulk, Ahsha has angel wings, Jelena has glowing evil eyes. It’s hanging in my office. I make out with it every night before I leave work.
What’s your favorite way to procrastinate in the writers’ room?
We’re freaks; we don’t procrastinate. I think we’re all Type-A overachievers. Plus, I keep all the writers wildly caffeinated. We do get sidetracked by filthy stories. You can’t write Hit The Floor and not love filth. But it’s not procrastinating if that filth winds up on screen…
Who is the biggest joker on set?
Dean Cain and Don Stark are f—— quick. The minute we yell cut, one of them will always busy something amazing, usually a comment on the scene that’s just wroooong. I love wrooong.
Who is best at making the cast and crew laugh?
Everyone has their own super power. Katherine Bailess and Rob Riley are both larger than life, you just want to be at their party. Taylour is the first person to make fun of herself, and her laugh is epic–and catchy. Logan Browning is just mischievous. Jonathan McDaniel was killing us the night we filmed the dance at the Paramount fountain. He was mic’d and was having a running commentary with himself we could all hear with our headphones and it was just one ridiculous statement after the next. To this day I don’t know if he knew we were listening.
Who is best at making the cast and crew cry?
Oh God, Kim. She just lets you in in this wildly intimate way.
Who’s the better dancer: Dean Cain or Don Stark?
I haven’t seen Don dance so I can’t answer this with authority. I can say Dean danced the night we were picked up to series and Superman can cut a damn rug.
What television shows are you watching in the offseason?
I love Family Guy and American Dad. Roger the alien is the best character on TV right now–sorry Walter White and Don Draper. The Heart, She Holler on Adult Swim is ludicrous–Amy Sedaris is my everything. I also get sucked into every Sex And The City marathon. And there’s always a f–king Sex And The City marathon.
Season One featured a lot of fun guest stars (Akon, Mark Cuban, Stephen Colletti, to name a few). Who are three actors/celebrities you’d love to have on the show next season?
Just three? Wow. Beyoncé, Michael Jordan, and whoever invented Doggles.
Sit tight, kids! Hit The Floor Season Two will be here before you know it.
[Photo Credit: James LaRosa]