How ‘Rock of Ages’ turned Tom Cruise into a hair-metal god
- Last Updated: 11:44 PM, June 9, 2012
- Posted: 9:48 PM, June 9, 2012
Until now, the phrase “movie musical” generally conjured up images of old Gershwin standards, jazz hands and clean-cut girls and guys twirling around each other. Not on that list: “big phones and man-bangs.”
But director Adam Shankman (“Hairspray”) says those are just the details he needed to make his adaptation of the Broadway hit “Rock of Ages” leap off the screen.
Set in a rock club on LA’s Sunset Strip in the late ’80s, the show draws on the hair-metal hits of the era, from bands such as Def Leppard, Guns N’ Roses, Bon Jovi and Night Ranger.
“What do you want in a musical? You want to walk away humming the songs,” says production designer Jon Hutman. “People love it. This is not your normal musical-theater crowd.”
It’s not your normal musical-theater cast, either: Tom Cruise may be known for his action chops and, thanks to “Tropic Thunder,” his comic timing, but he’s never before done the rock-star thing.
Nor has Alec Baldwin ever looked quite so much the aging hippie, or Russell Brand as Ron Wood-y. They, plus Catherine Zeta-Jones, Malin Akerman, Mary J. Blige and Paul Giamatti, appear alongside Julianne Hough and Diego Boneta, who play the central star-crossed young lovers Drew and Sherrie, who’ve come to LA to make it big in the music biz.
Adapted and expanded from its stage incarnation, and shot on an extensive set near Miami, the film became, says Shankman, “a matter of compressing a lot of memories of the Sunset Strip into our favorite ‘greatest hits.’ It was a blast.”
Here’s how the filmmakers transformed some of today’s best-known stars into the rock gods of yesteryear.
Malin Akerman, Constance Sack
Constance Sack, the evocatively named and big-haired Rolling Stone scribe who stands up to Stacee Jaxx when he gives her a lame interview, was a plum part for Akerman — even though it wasn’t a leading role — as it took her back to her own brief career as a singer in a band.
“Ever since, I’ve been dying to do some kind of musical,” she says. “And rock is my kind of music, so I was extremely excited.”
Not as excited as her character gets when seduced on an air-hockey table by Cruise’s rock god, though. “I’m such a huge fan of physical comedy,” she says, “so you don’t mind those scenes so much when it’s for a laugh. That doesn’t mean we weren’t struggling to keep it together when he was singing into my butt!”
She also got close with Mickey, the baboon who plays Stacee’s sidekick. “I sat down, and he came up from behind and instead of patting my back, he started patting my boobs. Not only did I get fondled by Tom Cruise as Stacee Jaxx, but I also got fondled by a monkey!”