Cha Cha Real Smooth - Dakota Johnson, Vanessa Burghardt & Cooper Raiff on the uniqueness of new film (2023)


Dakota Johnson, Vanessa Burghardt & Cooper Raiff are interviewed for Cha Cha Real Smooth. Cooper Raiff writes, directs, and stars alongside Dakota Johnson, Brad Garrett, Leslie Mann, and newcomers Vanessa Burghardt and Evan Assante. Stefan Pape asks the questions.

Plot: Fresh out of college and without a clear life path going forward, 22-year-old Andrew is stuck back at home with his family in New Jersey. But if there’s one thing that belongs on his nonexistent résumé, it’s how to get a party started, which lands him the perfect job of motivational dancing at the bar and bat mitzvahs for his younger brother’s classmates. When Andrew befriends a local mom, Domino, and her daughter, Lola, he finally discovers a future he wants—even if it might not be his own.

The film will be released in select cinemas and premiere globally on Apple TV+ on June 17, 2022.

#ChaChaRealSmomoth #DakotaJohnson #VanessaBurghardt
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And I'm going to begin with you, Vanessa., I mean.

This film has been so well received within the autistic community.

I just wondered what it is about this portrayal of this character.

And what it is about what Cooper has created that has led to such a positive response., I, mean, I, I, don't know, because I don't know, like what other people respond to, but I know that she's a fully formed person, before., Like, she's, a human before.

She's, an autistic person.

And when you don't, like, sort of label the perimeter of who a person can be, they're, a lot more interesting because no one is really like that.


So I think it makes her seem a lot more accessible because she's, not just one thing.

And, Dakota, I'm, sure.

You know, some of the guys have loads of scripts.

You have read many scripts in your time.

They'll be the kind of.

You know.

The boy meets girl will they, won't.

They narratives.


This movie, while romantic subverts that somewhat and it's quite unique in its kind of navigation of cinematic romance.


It feel different? And was that part of the appeal for you? Well.

There wasn't a script when I when I signed on, Cooper had the idea of a story and the title, and then came to my company, me and my partner Ro.

And we wanted to make it with him, and I wanted to do it.


So he went and wrote the script.

And, then we really collaborated deeply on the characters.

And the scripts.

I think that was a part of it.


Think we didn't.

Cooper's talents are being very specific, and his.

He has a real gift for observing people and seeing things in them that you wouldn't.

Notice right, away., And, I think, that's.

What makes his writing very special.

And unique because it's it's detailed in a in a way, that's vulnerable and sweet.

And and then I come in and I'm, like, it's, not complex enough., Right., I think, it's more complicated than that.

The big.

The big thing is leaning on them., Like I think we're saying about the character of Lola.

A lot of it is just like the fact that it was co-created like writing.

Lola was kind of just keeping up with Vanessa and how she how Vanessa could marry the character of Lola.

And that was Vanessa really led the way and Dakota led the way in terms of Domino and Coop.

I mean, the character of Andrew, doesn't really know yet what he wants to be or where he wants to go, which is a crossroads.


Many people at his age face you at the same age, kind of seems knew exactly why you wanted to be in, knew exactly what you wanted to achieve.

You're, ready kind of fulfilling those dreams.

So as somebody who hasn't known any different at that age, was that quite challenging element of the character to connect to?, No, I, really connect to him, because he is going 120%, Andrew, is, and he's failing to think about where, how, how he's grounded in himself.

And I think that I really relate to that.

I think, I go 120% making movies, but that doesn't mean that I have any clue who I am as a person.

So I think I do relate.


I mean, one thing I sort of gathered from this is you seem to have a great affection Cooper for every, each and every character that makes up this story, is that very important to you as a writer to, to not, not necessarily like each person that you put on a page, but at least try and understand them I.

Think it is important to love every person that I put on the page.

And I think I have this desire to make people watching a movie love them as much as I do.

And, I think by love, I mean, I understand them.

And I think when we understand people, it's really easy to love them unless we're dealing with a miserable person.

But and so and Dakota and Vanessa, I was wondering, because you had said, I, wonder about your collaboration together.

And how you go about striking up that very close kind of intangible bonds that a mother and a daughter sort of share Well.

We we we had like a coffee date before we started working, and we had met on Zoom because in the casting process, you know, everything was on Zoom.


We were watching all these tapes all the time.

And Vanessa read twice or one read.

And then we met.

So, yeah.

But then we really got to know each other when we were on set.

And, I, really just like talking to her., And, I, I like hearing about what she thinks about things.

And and I think she's, really funny and really smart and so talented.

And we just really got along well., And, I, I feel not protective of her.

I do feel protective of you.

But not in a way of, like.

You need protecting more of.

Like, I want you to feel good,? You know, what I mean? Yeah.

I, keep asking to ask her, but, I, mean, after the success last year of Coda, there's, it there's this.

You start to believe as a filmmaker making stuff.

Now that go into kind of streaming services that they're at no disadvantage now.

Anything could be possible.

It feels like now when you make a movie like this, the Oscar buzz and awards kind of season buzz is a very plausible thing that maybe four or five years ago.

It didn't feel like they would be part of the conversation.

Is that quite an exciting new thing that's happening at the at the moment in this industry? It's great to have a home that you feel like really cares about your movie and cares about platforming it in an organic way.

And and I think but I think the key is to stay organic.

So yeah, it's really cool that little movies can be seen by more people on streaming, platforms and I.

So my my final question, is, I, loved all the scenes at the bar, mitzvahs., I, mean, well.

What song gets you all on the dance, floor? Events like that., Our song and our movie movies that song.

Oh, the jazz influence.



It down., Yeah, yeah., Oh, I, actually like that song.

Not a lot of songs.

Rare thing for you to say.

I, know, right?, Yeah, especially., Yeah., A, dancer., Yeah., I, like also 24, G, Magic by Bruno Mars., That song, always gets stronger, one.

Right., Thank you so much for time, guys, and best of luck with the release of the movie.


Thank you so much., Thank, you.


What is the message of Cha Cha Real Smooth? ›

Parents need to know that Cha Cha Real Smooth is a coming-of-age drama about a recent college grad named Andrew (Cooper Raiff). It deals with serious themes, including the challenge of finding a real job/career, the responsibilities of adult life, mental health issues, neurodivergence, love, and loss.

Is there a new Cha Cha Real Smooth movie? ›

A young man who works as a Bar Mitzvah party host strikes up a friendship with a mother and her autistic daughter. A young man who works as a Bar Mitzvah party host strikes up a friendship with a mother and her autistic daughter.

Where did they film Cha Cha Real Smooth? ›

The comedy-drama “Cha Cha Real Smooth” was shot in Pittsburgh but you likely won't see any Steel City landmarks when the movie makes its debut on Apple TV+ and in select theaters on Friday. That's because Pittsburgh plays the role of New Jersey in the movie.

When was Cha Cha Real Smooth filmed? ›

A local mall became writer/director filmmaker Cooper Raiff's soundstage substitute when he filmed 10 of the 22 production days of “Cha Cha Real Smooth” at the Galleria at Pittsburgh Mills in late summer 2021.

What is the purpose of the Cha Cha dance? ›

The Cha Cha is a playful and flirtatious dance known for it's vibrant energy. Although it is traditionally danced to up-beat music with a Latin or Cuban beat, today it is common to dance the Cha Cha to many current styles of music including Top 40, Pop and R&B.

How would you explain the importance of cha-cha-cha? ›

It's a great workout; has documented physical and mental health benefits; can enhance your social life and self-confidence; reduces stress and depression; promotes relaxation; is a wonderful outlet for self-expression and creativity, and it's FUN!

Is the girl in Cha Cha Real Smooth autistic? ›

Vanessa Burghardt, left, and Dakota Johnson in “Cha Cha Real Smooth.” Burghardt, now 18, makes her screen debut with the role. Like the character of Lola, Burghardt also has autism. Though “Cha Cha Real Smooth” is her first role in a movie, she has been auditioning for parts for a number of years.

Is the daughter in Cha Cha Real Smooth autistic? ›

The film made a big splash at this year's Sundance Film Festival where it took home the Audience Award (U.S. Dramatic). Burghardt, who is autistic in real-life, was very drawn to the character of Lola because of the way Raiff wrote the character.

Is Cha Cha on Netflix? ›

Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha is streaming on Netflix.

Why was Domino bleeding in Cha Cha? ›

Domino tells Andrew she has a fiancé, Joseph, working in Chicago. She reveals the blood was not from her period but caused by a recent miscarriage.

Does Cha Cha Real Smooth have a good ending? ›

The final montage in Cha Cha Real Smooth depicted Andrew reveling in the freedom of his 20s, thereby proving that Domino's assessment was right. The film ended on a heartfelt note as both the characters finally found happiness, even though they were apart from each other.

Is Cha Cha still a thing? ›

On December 12, 2016, ChaCha shut down operations due to declining advertising revenue, which left it unable to service its debt.

Did Bruce Lee dance cha cha? ›

A cha cha champion

But what about his... dance moves? In 1958, Bruce Lee became the Crown Colony Cha Cha dancing champion of Hong Kong. Yes, cha cha.

What camera was Cha Cha Real Smooth shot on? ›

Dunlap: We shot on the Alexa Mini with Cooke S4's and an old Angeneiux HR 25-250. The Alexa is always my go to when film is not a possibility. After testing many lenses, we ended up landing on the Cooke s4's because of their rendering of skin tones and ability to hold contrast and detail.

How old was Domino in Cha Cha Real Smooth? ›

Twelve-year-old David, 22-year-old Andrew, 32-year-old Domino, Andrew and David's 40-something mom are each grappling with moments of inflection in their lives, and Raiff blends their stories with a cleverness that I guess I'm just going to have to stop being surprised by.

Is the girl in Cha Cha Real Smooth actually autistic? ›

“Cha Cha Real Smooth” is the first professional acting role for Venessa Burghardt, who is autistic. Burghardt portrays Lola, the daughter of Dakota Johnson's character Domino.

Does the girl in Cha Cha Real Smooth have autism? ›

Vanessa Burghardt, left, and Dakota Johnson in “Cha Cha Real Smooth.” Burghardt, now 18, makes her screen debut with the role. Like the character of Lola, Burghardt also has autism. Though “Cha Cha Real Smooth” is her first role in a movie, she has been auditioning for parts for a number of years.

What lesson did you learn from hometown cha cha cha? ›

Don't take your loved ones for granted. Seize every opportunity to tell people how you feel about them; pay attention to the things they do for you. Gam-ri's son regretted how he took his mom for granted and just kept telling himself he would make time for her next time.

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