On “Watch What Happens Live” Monday night, viewers got some insight into Sia’s surprisingly average hobbies.
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Sia’s musical drama “Music,” her directorial debut, is ready for the big screen.
The singer discussed the Kate Hudson-starring film, which is expected to be released soon although no official date has been announced, and how it came together Wednesday as part of Variety’s Power of Women: Conversations series.
The idea for “Music” first came to Sia about 15 years ago, she says, when she wrote a short story. The film features Hudson as Zu, who takes in her special-needs half-sister Music, played by Maddie Ziegler. Leslie Odom Jr. stars as a neighbor who assists with caring for Music.
Sia says she cast the leads for “Music” in an unconventional way: by using Twitter. She tweeted Odom, for instance, after seeing him in “Hamilton,” writing “Hey, do you want to be the star of my movie?’ ”
Sia saw Hudson singing a Christmas song on Instagram, and admired how she didn’t “sound like every other white actress who was trained in Broadway singing, which I hate,” she said.
Over lunch, Hudson told Sia was “born” to play Zu. Then Sia asked Hudson if she’d shave her head for the role. “She said, ‘yes,’ and I was, like, ‘You’ve got it! You’re in.”
Kate Hudson sported a close crop in October 2017 at the Golden Heart Awards in New York City. (Photo: Jamie McCarthy, Getty Images for Michael Kors)
But why the long wait to make the film from when she first wrote the story? Sia says she was scared.
“I didn’t think I was a director,” she said. “I was very scared. I’m Sia, I have to make something very good. It can’t be mediocre. I was like, ‘I’m not putting out anything that isn’t exceptional.’ “
But those closest to her were encouraging, prompting her to finally take the plunge.
“Everyone said, ‘You’re a (expletive) idiot if you don’t make this as a musical, so I turned it into a musical,” she said.
Sia said making the film, which had a $16 million budget, was “like taping a music video but every day for 40 days.”
The singer-songwriter heaped praise on 18-year-old Ziegler, an alum of Lifetime’s “Dance Moms.” Sia says the teen poured her heart into the role of Music, careful to portray the character, who is on the autism spectrum, in a respectful way.
The two previously worked together on Sia’s single “Chandelier.”
“I want to work with her until the day I die,” Sia said. “She’s the most professional person I’ve ever worked with. We’re really close.”
While she was frightened at first, Sia says the film-making experience was amazing. She especially liked creating most of the film’s creative costumes — something that shouldn’t be too surprising given her penchant for over-the-top looks.
“I love casting,” she said. “I love designing costumes. I love designing worlds. I love directing.”
There are several cameos in “Music,” Sia promises, including comic Tig Notaro.
“We were lucky to have her,” Sia said. “She had us in stitches.”
So what’s the takeaway Sia hopes viewers have after watching the film, whenever it winds up in theaters? That’s easy, she says.
“I want compassion, really,” she said. “I want people to show compassion every day.”
Follow Gary Dinges on Twitter @gdinges
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