Rob Marshall Defends “Into the Woods” Film

Very little was known about Rob Marshall’s film adaptation of the beloved 1987 Broadway musical “Into the Woods” until last month when the first trailer and photos hit.

Their launch was overshadowed by comments from original show composer Stephen Sondheim which suggested the Disney film made changes to the musical, eliminating some of the darker subject matter and fan-favorite songs to make it more ‘family friendly’.

The backlash was swift and intense, and concerns weren’t settled by a follow-up explanation. Speaking with EW, Marshall (“Chicago,” “Nine”) has taken a turn at trying to clear up any misconceptions:

“It’s ironic that happened at all, because Steve’s been part of every single step of this movie. And the truth is, we’ve been incredibly faithful to the original. I’m actually really impressed Disney’s doing this film, because it’s very brave. I don’t feel we’ve watered it down in any way, shape, or form. We’ve just made it a film. But I never thought in terms of ‘the Disney’ of it all, ever. None of us did.”

So will all the darker elements – the adultery, the nasty death, the sexual predator Wolf, the saucy ‘Any Moment’ number – still be included?

“All of those things are in the film. ‘Any Moment’ is in the film… Rapunzel’s end is still pretty dark, it’s just a different kind of dark, and it’s just as harrowing, and just as sad… It’s a very grown-up piece in many ways, and there’s a lot of entertainment and a lot of fun to it, but it doesn’t shy away from any of those adult themes at all.”

One confirmed change is the song “Ever After” which is now purely instrumental, while “Meryl Streep’s rap breakdown” takes place during the prologue. The second act of the play has been condensed and re-tooled to fit the film’s more traditional three-act structure.

Don’t expect new songs to be incorporated either. The “Rainbows” duet, originally made for a previous film version, was never intended to be in this movie. A new song penned specifically for Streep’s character was filmed but ultimately cut.

Despite the cuts, three days of filming in July were actually done to re-incorporate two character flashback scenes back into the film following a test screening:

“We built this thing using the best parts of Into the Woods, which is so much of it. So much of it is there and make it work on film. It’ll all be very clear when people see it. They’ll understand, it’s all there.”