Hairspray’s Nikki Blonsky On The Movie’s 15th Anniversary, Memories With Jerry Stiller, And Those Infamous Twitter Memes (2023)

Hairspray’s Nikki Blonsky On The Movie’s 15th Anniversary, Memories With Jerry Stiller, And Those Infamous Twitter Memes (1)

Movie musicals are a tried and true genre in the industry, and one that often gets attention during Awards Season. It’s almost hard to believe it, but it’s been 15 years since the Hairspray movie arrived in theaters back in 2007. The film adaptation starred newcomer Nikki Blonsky, who recently spoke to CinemaBlend about the movie’s anniversary, memories with the late Jerry Stiller, and those infamous Twitter memes about her.

Nikki Blonsky had her big professional break when landing the role of Tracy Turnblad in Adam Shankman’s Hairspray movie. This transformed the young actress from ice cream scooper to movie star, leading to more professional opportunities in her future. I had the chance to speak with Blonsky about her experience with Hairspray, where she revealed her immediate connection with the plucky protagonist of that beloved musical. As she put it,

My love affair with Hairspray started way before my involvement with the movie, even auditioning. I saw it when I was 15 for my 15th birthday. And I remember sitting in the theater with my mom, and from the moment I heard the first ‘Uh oh ohs’ in ‘Good Morning Baltimore’ I literally poked my mom and said ‘I can do that.’ From then on out I had this feeling from watching the show, to the minute we left the theater, I was like ‘That is her. I have to play that girl someday.’ I didn’t know how, I didn’t know when. But I knew Tracy had to be a part of my life somehow.

In the end, Nikki Blonsky was right, as she got to play Tracy in the movie musical co-starring legends like John Travolta and Michelle Pfeiffer. Director Adam Shankman put together a killer cast to bring Baltimore to life, after the Hairspray stage musical had a long, Tony-winning run on Broadway. I asked Blonsky about what memories stick out the most from her time on that set, where she reminisced about the late Jerry Stiller, as well as her collaboration with Travolta. She shared:

I think for me, my favorite part about it was Tracy is really and truly the only character who has a scene with everybody. Every other character. And in the past year or so that we lost Jerry Stiller, I’ve been such a huge fan of him and I will forever be grateful to have that scene in Mr. Pinky’s Hefty Hideaway with him. Because he was so beyond lovely and nice. Those are the things that I cherish. I cherish John and I in the recording studio, and the dance studio. Trying new moves, trying new things with our voices. Those are the things that I love the most.

The great Jerry Stiller passed away in May of 2020, leaving behind a truly legendary career and legacy. Stiller starred in John Waters’ original Hairspray movie back in 1988, and fans were delighted to see him back in the 2007 movie musical. What’s more, he got to be part of one one of the iconic songs “Welcome to the 60’s.” And from Nikki Blonsky’s memories, he sounded like a true delight on the set.

Hairspray’s Nikki Blonsky On The Movie’s 15th Anniversary, Memories With Jerry Stiller, And Those Infamous Twitter Memes (2)

In addition to asking Nikki Blonsky which memories from Hairspray were her favorite, I also inquired about any challenges that might have happened. After all, she was leading a major motion picture that was chock full of singing and dancing. But it turns out that difficulty occurred after production wrapped, saying:

For me the hardest part was saying goodbye and ending it. You go through however many months, in my case eight. And you’re living in another country with all your closest friends, you become a family. And then all of a sudden it’s time to go home.

Being an actor is a unique job for a number of reasons. This type of bonding is an experience not unique to Nikki Blonsky, along with the letdown once the project is wrapped and the cast/crew go their separate ways. And for Blonsky getting her first big break in this way, smart money says that emotional rollercoaster was strong.

After Hairspray, Nikki Blonsky would go onto a number of other acting projects including roles in TV shows like Huge and Smash. Although aside from her time as Tracy Turnblad, she’s also known for being the subject of a number of memes, specifically related to her Tweeting at various celebrities around a decade ago. I asked Blonsky what it was like being turned into a meme via the powers of the internet, and she spoke honestly, saying:

The Twitter thing, this comment really made me laugh: somebody was like ‘Nikki Blonsky only uses Twitter to promote herself.’ And I said, ‘Isn’t that the whole point of social media? We all have our own pages, we can promote our jobs, we can promote a bar of soap if we want to. It’s our page.’ I never tell people what they can post on their pages, or who they DM, or who they contact. They have no right to tell me who I can contact or send messages to. Sorry!

The internet can be a wild place, and going viral can sometimes be an unpleasant experience. But Nikki Blonsky seems to have a good perspective about all the memes, and remains active on social media. She also came out as queer a few years ago, and has shared her personal experience on places like Instagram.

Memes aside, Nikki Blonsky’s performance as Tracy Turnblad has forever been immortalized, and the movie is still regularly played on syndication. Hairspray is currently streaming on HBO Max, allowing even more moviegoers to see the movie’s message of diversity and acceptance. Blonsky spoke to me about the legacy of the Hairspray movie, sharing:

It almost gets me emotional when people come up to me and tell me what Tracy means to them, and my portrayal of Tracy means to them. And that I was the Tracy they grew up with. Ricki Lake was the Tracy I grew up with and I idolized her. And I never thought anybody could look up to me that way. And when I started reading what fans felt about the movie, felt about my character and how they identified with her so much. To me that’s what makes this whole journey, this whole career that I’m doing, it makes it all just right and exactly what I need to be doing.

Nikki Blonsky has a few notable upcoming projects coming up, in addition to the recent press related to Hairspray’s anniversary. She’s got a role in an upcoming podcast series titled A Voice in Violet, as well as a movie titled Bosco starring Vivica A. Fox. In the meantime, check out the 2022 movie release dates to plan your next movie experience.


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Hairspray’s Nikki Blonsky On The Movie’s 15th Anniversary, Memories With Jerry Stiller, And Those Infamous Twitter Memes (3)

Corey Chichizola

Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.

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How old was Nikki Blonsky during Hairspray? ›

That fateful decision kicked off what would ultimately be a six-month audition process, during which director Adam Shankman and the casting team saw 1,100 young women for the role before selecting the then-unknown 17-year-old Blonsky to lead an all-star ensemble that included John Travolta, Christoper Walken, Michelle ...

How old is Hairspray the movie? ›

Hairspray is a 1988 American comedy film written and directed by John Waters, starring Ricki Lake, Divine, Debbie Harry, Sonny Bono, Jerry Stiller, Leslie Ann Powers, Colleen Fitzpatrick, Michael St. Gerard, and Ruth Brown.

What is the movie Hairspray 2007 about? ›

How tall is Tracy Hairspray? ›

Tracy Turnblad (Featured Singer)

Caucasian, 5' 5".

Is Hairspray appropriate for 13 year olds? ›

Hairspray is rated PG by the MPAA for language, some suggestive content and momentary teen smoking. Despite the lenient US PG rating, this film contains sexual comments and innuendo throughout.

Who got Brenda pregnant in Hairspray? ›

One common interpretation is that Corny Collins is the father of Brenda's child. After her interaction with Velma where she is seen clutching her stomach, Brenda immediately approaches Corny Collins and the two are seen arguing in the background.

Is Hairspray OK for children? ›

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following: The scene where Amanda's mother ties her to a bed and waves a cross over her could be disturbing for young children.

Is there anything inappropriate in Hairspray? ›

There are a lot of weight-based insults and one case of parental abuse: Mrs. Pingleton literally ties Penny to her bed and calls her a "devil child." In one scene, three "bad girls" are shown smoking in the school bathroom, while adults sit in a smoke-filled teachers' lounge.

Is Hairspray play OK for kids? ›

Hairspray! is recommended for ages 8 and older.

Does Hairspray damage hair? ›

Hairspray can cause lacklustre hair.

Using hairspray alone will not cause damage to your hair. However, with repeated use of sprays, your hair can lose some of its best qualities. It's important to use other products to retain shine and moisture and reduce product build-up.

When was Hairspray removed from Netflix? ›

Hairspray will be on Netflix until May 31, so you've got until then to watch Efron, Blonsky, Queen Latifah, Brittany Snow, and a young Tayla Parx unite the city of Baltimore with the power of song and dance.

Is Hairspray based on a true story? ›

Hairspray is based on the 1988 film of the same name, directed by John Waters. Waters based the main storyline and "The Corny Collins Show" on the real-life "The Buddy Deane Show" and racial events surrounding it.

Does Tracy wear a fat suit in Hairspray? ›

This musical's storyline focuses on the issue of Tracy being an unlikely dance star because of her excessive weight. “My contract forbade me to lose weight,” confirms Christine who was a tight size 16 at the time. “Even though I was heavier then, I still had to wear a fat suit to bulk up my appearance,” she adds.

Did Tracy go to jail in Hairspray? ›

The entire female cast, with the exception of Prudy, are in jail ("The Big Dollhouse"). Due to Velma's political connections, Velma and Amber are soon released. Wilbur mortgages his store to post bail for the others. However, again due to Velma's manipulations, Tracy remains incarcerated alone ("Baltimore – Reprise").

Who does Tracy have a crush on in Hairspray? ›

Link Larkin is a spunky and charming, but sweet and kind-hearted character who plays a major role in hairspray as Tracy Turnblad's friend and love interest. He is a member of The Corny Collins Show council.

How old was Amanda Bynes in Hairspray? ›

Bynes played Penny Pingleton, a role that could have easily been the most forgettable among an insane A-list cast. I mean, how did this 21-year-old stand out among John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken, James Marsden, Queen Latifah, Zac Efron, AND Allison Janney??

How old was Elijah Kelly in Hairspray? ›

Did Zac Efron dated Nikki Blonsky? ›

While they played love interests in the film, Nikki Blonsky and Zac Efron's off-screen relationship was entirely platonic.

How old was Ricki Lake in the movie Hairspray? ›

Ricki Lake weighed 200 pounds when, at age 19, she was cast as the happily heavyset Tracy Turnblad in the 1988 John Waters movie, Hairspray.

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