The Rocky Horror Picture Show has officially been revamped — emphasis on the vamp.
Laverne Cox, who’s stepping into Tim Curry‘s famous fishnets to play the singing-and-dancing lead in Fox’s new reimagining of the 1975 cult classic, is the first to admit the chance to take on the iconic role was too good to pass up.
“Dr. Frank-N-Furter is beautifully flawed and deliciously evil and sexy. I’ve just never gotten to play a part like this before,” the Orange Is the New Black Star told PEOPLE on the Toronto set of the remake.
As the maniacal genius, continues Cox: “I murder someone, I make life, I’m seductive — it’s really, really exciting. Black women rarely get to play parts like this, especially on television.”
Cox, who broke ground in 2014 as the first transgender actress to earn a Primetime Emmy nomination, understands that it’s inevitable people will stack her interpretation up against Curry’s but notes, “I’m a different artist, Tim Curry’s a different actor — I’m black, he’s white, I’m American, he’s British, I’m a woman, he’s a man ….”
Executive producer Lou Adler, who has been involved with Rocky since the ’70s, believes Cox will leave no room for comparisons to Curry because “she takes the character and runs with it.” He recalls that, “from the moment that we tested her, there was no plan B: ‘We’re going to make this with Laverne or we’re not going to make it.’ ”
And director Kenny Ortega, noted Cox’s many bona fides (a four-octave singing range, a background in dance) before acknowledging that “having a transgender actress in 2016 starring in a network television movie musical — wow! … She has just raised the bar and set a level of professionalism in her work in this project that is inspirational to all around her. She’s an extraordinary leading lady.”
And perhaps the highest affirmation comes from 70-year-old Curry himself: “She’s fabulous,” he told PEOPLE after getting his first glimpse of Cox at work. “She looks dazzling.”
The Rocky Horror Picture Show airs Thursday at 8 p.m. ET on Fox.