For “Save the Last Dance”‘s 20th anniversary this week, the film’s star, Julia Stiles, is reflecting on the early 2000s cultural phenomenon that it was, and the subsequent effect’s the film’s overt messages about race had on society at the time.
Speaking to “Entertainment Tonight” for a reunion special alongside costar Sean Patrick Thomas, Stiles got candid about her involvement in the process, as well as touching on one particular element of the film she deems a regret two decades after its completion.
Her Prominent Role
On her involvement in the film that became a symbolic piece of culture due to its discussion of interracial dating and the outdated societal/familial issues it can arise, and how to overcome it all, Stiles is grateful to have had a part in it.
“I’m really proud to have been a part of the movie, especially because it resonated [with audiences],” she said, noting that twenty years later the film’s meaning still applies in greater society as the issue can still come up with less inclusive individuals.
Issues That Still Exist Today
Stiles acknowledges how important the film’s meaning still is in 2021, “It’s even more impactful now, but when we made the film — and this is admittedly my naïveté and what you would call my white privilege now — I was like, ‘Really, this is still an issue? People don’t approve of a Black guy and a white girl together?’ And then through the voices in the movie and some of the supporting characters, like Kerry Washington’s character giving a voice to a different perspective, it opened my eyes to a lot of issues surrounding race and that’s still being talked about now.”
Her Biggest Regret
The actress furthered her discussion by opening up about her biggest regret while filming, but revealing that it had nothing to do with the actual film itself.
“My one regret about ‘Save The Last Dance’ and making it is that when we were in pre-production and doing all of the dance rehearsals, I was doing the ballet too, and [choreographer] Fatima [Robinson] would take Sean and Kerry, and all of the other actors out to the club in Chicago,” Stiles said of what she missed out on.
“And every night I’d get a phone call, ‘We’re going here, we’re going there,’ and I was such a do-gooder that I was like, ‘I can’t, I have ballet rehearsals at nine in the morning.'”
“And I missed all of the incredible clubbing experience, what was I thinking?” she went on to say, which prompted Thomas to jokingly respond with, “I would like to ease your conscience on that, but I mean you missed out. We had a good time. It was fun.”
Although she didn’t take part in all the fun, Stiles reaped the same benefits from the highly-successful movie launch, which debuted at No. 1 at the box office worldwide and grossed $131.7 million in its opening weekend.