When an actor like Billy Porter finds the role of their dreams, it’s hard not to get excited about having the chance to play it to the fullest. If history had shook out a little differently, Porter would have gotten to play the villainous Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors much earlier. But that delay has made one of the stars of FX’s cable hit Pose all the hungrier for his chance to play the next cinematic incarnation of that mean, green mother from outer space!
During an interview with Collider, Billy Porter told the story of why the part of Audrey II means so much to him:
This was one of the musicals that is from my generation, from the 80s, so I’ve known it, the songs have been my audition songs for years. And I was also in the out-of-town revival tryout before it went to Broadway back in 2002, and I got let go from that so I’ve already played the voice of the plant. And I just approached it from the standpoint of what it truly is; it’s kind of like the Faustian story. It’s kind of like the devil story. Like, ‘Sell your soul to me and I’ll give you everything you want.’ He’s a villain! And I don’t get to play villains very often, so get ready because he’s gonna be everything. All of the things! I’m gonna use all of the different ranges of the voice!
Originated by actor Ron Taylor for the 1982 Off-Broadway production of Howard Ashman and Alan Menken’s classic musical, Little Shop of Horrors’ 2003 Broadway production underwent a huge casting purge that left Billy Porter, and many others, fired in that out-of-town tryout. Thankfully, when Love, Simon director Greg Berlanti took the helm of this new film adaptation, he was smart enough to do fate’s job for it, and hired Porter to fulfill his leafy destiny.
You can practically hear how well Billy Porter’s voice would fit, no matter what recording of Little Shop of Horrors you’re listening to. Case in point, while Levi Stubbs left an indelible mark on the 1986 film adaptation directed by Frank Oz, Audrey II’s various songs has always sounded like a song that Billy Porter has taken to.
With the rest of Little Shop of Horrors’ currently being buzzed about, Billy Porter’s Audrey II might get the chance to terrorize Taron Egerton and Scarlett Johansson’s potential casting as Seymour and Audrey, as well as the rumored hiring of Chris Evans as the piece’s secondary villain, Dr. Orin Scrivello. It’s a lineup that could get a lot of people into seats and amp up Porter’s future performance all the more effectively.
For a movie that was originally made on a whim, and a very enterprising bet, Roger Corman’s Little Shop of Horrors has become a musical classic that will take to the screen again in the future. While we’re not exactly sure when that’s going to happen, it’ll have been worth the wait to hear Billy Porter crunch and munch on his fellow actors with all of the glee in the world. Let’s just hope the original Broadway ending sticks around this time out.