Cameron Diaz says she loved re-inventing the iconic character of Miss Hannigan in the movie musical "Annie." She is pictured here at the premiere of her romantic comedy "The Other Woman" April 21, 2014. UPI/Jim Ruymen | License Photo
NEW YORK, Dec. 5 (UPI) -- Actress Cameron Diaz says she loved the idea of reinventing for a new audience the iconic character of Miss Hannigan in the movie musical Annie.
Jamie Foxx, Quvenzhané Wallis and Rose Byrne co-star in the latest incarnation of the 1920s-set Little Orphan Annie comic strip, and subsequent stage musical and film.
"The way I felt about it is, yes, we were making Annie, but it is a completely different movie," Diaz told reporters at a roundtable interview in New York Thursday.
"Since it is set in modern times, contemporary, really my Hannigan and [Bobby Cannavale's character] Guy and all of the other characters -- we're giving performances for the generation who is going to see it for the first time. This is the only Annie they're going to know. The kids who are the age we were when we saw the original [1982 movie,] those kids are going to watch this movie and that's going to be their original. And, 30 years later, they might re-make it and people will be like: 'How come she's Chinese? She's supposed to be black.'"
"Annie's a boy?" Cannavale quipped. "It'll come around full circle."
Diaz went on to explain how her Hannigan was unlike her big-screen predecessor Carol Burnett's Great Depression-era villain.
"I really feel like it's a completely different performance, a different character for this generation and I feel like, also, Hannigan's issues are different," noted the 42-year-old actress. "Carol Burnett's was she didn't get a man. She was drinking because she didn't get married, didn't have a man and, today, Miss Hannigan is drinking because she doesn't have fame."
"It's an epidemic in our society that we have to look at how many 'likes' we have and how many people follow us to validate whether or not we are seen and if we are worthy of love. I think that Hannigan is just a representation of that. And not until she learns that she is worthy of love and that she should love herself and the way she treats those kids is the same way she is treating herself -- even worse maybe inside -- until she learns to love herself, she doesn't come around and is able to become who she really, truly is."
Asked about following up her role as the title character in Bad Teacher with her portrayal of a boozy, bitter foster mom in Annie, Diaz gamely replied: "Any time you give me permission to yell at children, I will take it."
"It's fun. It's fun. It's fun yelling at kids," Diaz teased. "But, in between, I always made sure they were warm and they were looked after. I was humane to them in real life. It's just in the movie, if you give me permission and say, 'Action!,' I'm right there with it."
Annie opens in U.S. theaters Dec. 19.