'The High Note' has skipped the big screen and is coming straight to viewers from home. Trust us when we say, this is a musical, comical venture that will raise your spirits and give you solace in tough times.
'The High Note' stars Dakota Johnson as Maggie, PA to multi-Grammy award-winning singer Grace Davis, played by Tracee Ellis Ross. Maggie starts to move away from Grace in order to pursue music producing, her life's goal. Meanwhile Grace wants to record new music, in spite those around her feeling it's time to do a stint in Vegas.
Speaking about preparing to play Grace Davis, 'Black-ish' star (and daughter of Diana Ross *gasps*) Tracee Ellis Ross says: "I am not somebody who's been singing on stage my entire life. I've been on stages. I've hosted live award shows. And I've held microphones and done all of those things and I really love it, I'm very comfortable on a stage. But I needed it to have an ease and a kind of confidence that comes from years and years of being a performer.
"So it was a little bit of a stretch in certain areas. But it was really fun to play, to take on that persona of somebody who really is at ease in front of hundreds and thousands of people."
She added: "The script was so well-written that the words on the page really gave life to this woman and this character without drawing on any of my family dynamics or any of those kinds of things."
Her character has led a long professional career in the music industry. David notes: "What was really fun in the process was trying to create a legacy of music for the film. So for an hour and a half film, to create a body of music that reflected decades of a career... I loved it, because we had to pick songs from different time periods and all that kind of stuff. So that was exciting."
Speaking about the music and comedy in the movie, lead Dakota Johnson says: "Music is a big part of my life. And I started in comedy, I started working in comedy so it's something that I would love to do more of and make more of, but it's hard to find good ones these days. So when I originally read the script it was something I really wanted to be a part of."
Johnson also does a bit of singing in the movie. She reveals: "I get very nervous to sing. I had done a movie before this where I also had to sing in it and it was a really terrifying experience but I had so much help with amazing vocal coaches. And it was thankfully over quickly in this one and I didn't have to do a lot of it. Tracee really did the majority of that."
Summarising what the movie means to her, she says: "I think a movie like 'The High Note' is half about an iconic pop star but also about the underdog, the person who helps make that happen and how much work that is and how talented each individual has the capability of being. It's about ambition and drive and strength and courage and not giving up on yourself because the world is seemingly impossible to conquer."
Kelvin Harrison Jr. ('It Comes At Night', 'Luce', 'Waves') plays Dakota Johnson's character's love interest in the movie. He says of his co-star: "She's just cool and she's smart and she's confident and she just has such a point of view, and I think that's so rare. Seeing her navigate the set every day and work everyday and having so many ideas and being so hands-on.
"I remember the first meeting we had, we all had a rehearsal and we sat down and read the script. And everyone was throwing out notes, trying to build, it was a huge collaboration between Tracee and Dakota and Nisha [Ganatra], our director, and the writer, Flora [Greeson].
"I just got to witness how easy it is for her to command, and I was like, that's important for this role so I think a part of what love is is having a respect for your partner. And I have so much respect for her as an artist and as an individual, and that made it so much easier just to dive in."
'The High Note' director Nisha Ganatra says Ice Cube contributed to the in-depth music industry knowledge in the film ("he would always say the lines that were written but then he would improvise stuff that had us dying and in stitches... he's such a seasoned pro and producer that he knew stuff we didn't know and would bring an extra little bit of fun and insider joy to his lines") and that the cast's singing talent blew her away.
She said of musician Diplo's cameo: "I think the Diplo scene is almost entirely improv. So it was a little bit crazy. He had a lot of really fun moments and is just a naturally funny person."
Ganatra previously helmed 'Late Night' which starred Emma Thompson as a late night talk show host struggling in a male dominated industry.
The director said of the movies: "It's two really strong women who are really good at what they do, who are unapologetic about it, who are told by their powers that be that they've become irrelevant, and they are absolutely stunned and don't know why. Nor should they be. So I think those messages of ageism and sexism are really important in both movies and are important to address head on so we can stop it already, because it's not an ok thing."
She adds: "Ideally this movie brings out those points and encourages women to help each other and to be each other's allies and help us break into the industry."
On bringing his comedic edge to 'The High Note', Ice Cube says: "The script was very tight but to me the mark of a great director is to let an actor put their flavour on it. And [Nisha] was great at that, at letting us follow our instincts and letting us bring nuances that we knew about the music business to the table.
"We really created a nice back story between Jack [Grace Davis' manager] and Grace. You know, they got a history, it comes out that somehow they've broken up and gotten back together as far as manager relationships, so it's cool to be able to put that texture on to a character that's so in your face and kind of flamboyant."
Ice Cube offered his insights into the industry to Nisha and says of the movie: "I think it's very accurate, and it's great. For one, it's shot beautifully, it seemed like they were able to catch Magic Hour on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood and make you feel like you're a struggling artist trying to be heard. I think that that feeling was captured so well in the movie.
"When you think about great music movies, 'The High Note' checks all the boxes. The story is solid, the acting is great, directing is great, cinematography is special, the music is on point. So everything I had read in the script, it delivered, and even more when I saw it."
You can rent 'The High Note' at home from Sky, Rakuten, iTunes, Google Play, Microsoft and Sony PlayStation from Friday, May 29th.