How Billie Eilish Walked on Walls for Her 'Bad Guy' Performance on SNL

The stunt was inspired by Fred Astaire

Billie Eilish's celebrated performance of "Bad Guy" on SNL this weekend felt as modern as it gets. Except it was inspired by a movie from 1951. 

That film, Royal Wedding, features a scene in which Fred Astaire is seen dancing on the walls and ceiling to the song "You're All the World to Me." Filmed inside a giant revolving barrel with a mounted camera that moved along with the room, it's one of the more famous sequences from classic Hollywood musicals—it even inspired Lionel Richie's video for his song "Dancing on the Ceiling."

And now it has inspired Eilish, the 17-year-old wunderkind and newly minted Grand Clio winner (for her original song "Come Out and Play," written for Apple's 2018 "Share Your Gifts" holiday ad). 

Viewers glued to NBC on Saturday night at precisely 12:09 a.m. saw Eilish pull off her own version of the Royal Wedding idea—as she sang her hit single "Bad Guy" inside a similarly rotating cube, with camera attached. 

On Tuesday, NBC released a behind-the-scenes video (see below), in which Eilish explains her idea for the stunt—and how she pulled it off. 

After showing her idea to her team, and the set designers, using a tissue box, Eilish set about rehearsing the challenging sequence, which was made doubly hard since she is currently nursing not one but two sprained ankles. 

"Pretty much everyone I know was excited about it," she says. "We've had more rehearsal time than any other thing we've done. We did a bunch of run-throughs." 

See the full BTS video here: 

Eilish admits performing in the rotating cube was "pretty disorienting" but not scary. "It's been only fun, pretty much," she says. "For me it was pretty easy to understand and get the hang of. The fact that they even trusted us to pull this off is really big. I don't even know if I would have!" 

She adds that she was incredibly grateful that SNL were "open to it, and understood, and believed in us, and believed in me." She adds: "It's a huge deal, and I know they've never done anything like it."

Well, except for that one time with Penn & Teller in 1986...

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Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd is editor in chief of the Clio Awards, editor of Muse by Clio, and host of the podcast Tagline. Previously, he was creative editor at Adweek.

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