Director and screenwriter Jon M. Chu’s credits read like a tribute to everything that has made a significant impact on pop culture. “Step Up 2: The Streets” inspired an entire society to recognize a new wave of dance, while “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never” gave several generations an inside look at this decade’s biggest pop icon. If directing national dance crews and Justin Bieber weren’t already enough, Chu is also in the process of directing “G.I Joe: Retaliation,” part of a franchise rooted in the collective nostalgia of every 10 to 35 year-old. A devoted fan of dance, Chu’s films race across screens in hyper bursts of movement and choreography reminiscent of a classic break battle. Now that Chu has recently signed on to direct Justin Bieber’s “Believe” tour, NMR sat down with the director to talk about his favorite Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus moment and the future of both digital and traditional films.
Can you share any interesting or funny stories that happened on-set with Justin?
You know, I have an interesting story about Miley and Justin, because when we were shooting that scene, we were rehearsing with Miley in Madison Square Garden. She had done a movie, a 3D movie. Justin had never done a movie, so we were there, and I was trying to get Justin to, you know — in the beginning, when the globe comes up and he is standing there in front of the audience, I didn’t want him to move; I just wanted him to stand still, and I wanted the camera to go all the way around. It takes 20 seconds to go all the way around him, which is awkward for a person to stand there for 20 seconds and not move in front of 20,000 people. So he’s like, “What do you mean?” and I was like, “I just want you to stand there, because I am going to have the camera go all the way around you and then pull back.” He’s like, “I don’t know. That feels so weird, like, what am I supposed to do?” I was like, “You just stand there. They’ll cheer.” I was like, “You turn your head. They’ll cheer.” He’s like, “Yeah, I don’t know,” and then Miley was there, and she’s like, “You know, Justin, I had the same fight with my director, Kenny Ortega, on our Miley movie. I didn’t want to do something, and he wanted to do it. I trusted him, and it turned out awesome.” She’s like, “So you should try it and just see,” and he listened to her. She has been there and done that, so he was like, “Okay, let’s try it.” So we tried it, and it’s that iconic moment that is in every trailer that we used. It’s just that thing that, like, Justin is always listening; he isn’t just wanting to do his own thing. He has his opinion, but he will try all these things. But to have Miley sort of instill her wisdom was really amazing to see those two, because there are not a lot of people that have been in that position in history, so it was a cool moment.
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