She got her start as John Travolta's icy, superdiva love interest in the Saturday Night Fever sequel Staying Alive and now, 30 years later, Finola Hughes is back in the dance world with a role — as a god-awful dance mom! — in the just-wrapped indie feature Platinum: The Dance Movie. TV Guide Magazine sat down with the Emmy-winning General Hospital star to get the hot dish.
TV Guide Magazine: So are you as mean in this movie as that ghastly Abby Lee Miller lady?
Hughes: [Laughs] Well, my character, Jo-Ann, is really pretty horrible! Platinum is a tongue-in-cheek take on dance competitions, with all these great young dancers competing at an extraordinary level and the crazy mothers who push them. It's very authentic, but also very funny. It's about two dance studios that compete in the super-important "National Nationals" and Jo-Ann is a screaming control freak who really wants her daughters to do well and will do anything to make that happen. She only wants the best for them but she's really just impossible. One of her girls is this fabulous, very dreamy dancer, played by Kathryn McCormick, who competed in Season 6 of So You Think You Can Dance. That character is 18 or 19, and the other daughter, played by Marlowe Peyton, is 10 and has a weight problem. The actresses are both so fabulous!
TV Guide Magazine: You've been dancing since you were a kid. Do you relate to any of this?
Hughes: No! It's so deadly serious! I started at age 3 and went to a dance school when I was 10 but never experienced any of this. I really wanted to dance. Nobody pushed or forced me. I don't even understand the purpose of these competitions. Sure, you can make some money but the stress is incredible and you can certainly have a career as a dancer without them. It's insane, really. The director, Alex DiMarco, really captured it all beautifully and with a lot of style. The dancing is phenomenal. The level of the talent is so much different now. Seeing some of these young ones in Platinum I think, "I could never have done that!" They are not only major athletes but also bring a passion and creativity and artistry to the stage I could never have come close to. They bring their souls to the stage! And they're raising the bar in ways that couldn't have been imagined just a few years ago, thanks I think to shows like So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing With the Stars, which are making dance cool and raising everyone's game. Doing Platinum made me want to continue in this arena, some way, somehow.
TV Guide Magazine: Like, maybe, on Dancing With the Stars?
Hughes: Are you kidding? They would never take me!
TV Guide Magazine: Why the hell not? It's ABC. They love bringing on the GH stars, Disney synergy and all.
Hughes: I'll bet you $100 it will never happen. They would never do it. I promise you.
TV Guide Magazine: Well, allrighty then. Isn't your GH costar Carolyn Hennesy [Diane] in this movie, too?
Hughes: Yes, and her character is even worse than mine! I just love that woman. So funny! [Laughs] She's mad as a bag of rats!
TV Guide Magazine: How's it feel to come full circle in your career?
Hughes: It's so much fun, though I don't think any of the young ones on the set had a clue that I started out as a dancer or know anything about Staying Alive. Kathryn is at the point where I was when I came to Los Angeles to do that movie. I was so young then. I didn't know anything at all! Thank God, John Travolta was so sweet and such a great actor to watch and learn from. He really understood film acting.
TV Guide Magazine: Even though Staying Alive is now a camp classic, it was quite a notorious flop when it was released. How did you handle that?
Hughes: I really didn't know any different. I was kind of clueless, really. All I knew is that the film brought me to L.A., which was an incredible thing for me, career-wise. If not for that, I would never have been cast on GH.
TV Guide Magazine: Where you encountered the all-time dance mom, Gloria Monty!
Hughes: Absolutely! [Laughs] She was quite the disciplinarian. But sometimes that's what it takes — a real ballbuster. You see that with a lot of successful sports figures, who have coaches and agents who drive them hard. I heard some of the real dance moms on the set of Platinum talking so harshly to their kids and I thought, "Seriously, you speak to your children like that?" They're completely nutty! But at least I knew I wasn't far off with my performance. That desperation to live through your child's life is so sad, really. It's the same thing that happens with a lot of fathers and their sons when it comes to school sports. I feel so bad for the kids with the horrible dance moms but sometimes great accomplishment comes out of it. I guess we all have our stuff to work through, right? [Laughs] And, hopefully, we can all get to a good shrink to help us!