Let there be schlock

Turns Tom Cruise into a hair-metal of

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - MOVIES -

THE term ‘‘movie mu­si­cal’’ gen­er­ally con­jures 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 that’s ex­actly what 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 hair-metal hits of the era, from bands such as Def Lep­pard, Guns N’ Roses and Bon Jovi.

‘‘What do you want in a mu­si­cal? You want to walk away hum­ming the songs,’’ pro­duc­tion de­signer Jon Hut­man says.

‘‘Peo­ple love it. This is not your nor­mal mu­si­cal-the­atre crowd.’’

Rock of Ages doesn’t boast your nor­mal mu­si­cal-the­atre cast, ei­ther.

While Tom Cruise is known for his ac­tion chops and, thanks to Tropic Thun­der, his comic tim­ing, he’s never be­fore done the rock-star thing. Nor has Alec Bald­win looked quite so much the age­ing 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 near Mi­ami, the film be­came, says Shankman, ‘‘a mat­ter of com­press­ing a lot of mem­o­ries of the Sun­set Strip into our favourite ‘great­est hits’ – it was a blast’’.

Shankman knew he wanted a big Hol­ly­wood name to play Stacee Jaxx, the shaman-like rock god whose tat­tooed, head-scarfed pres­ence makes fans swoon. So he started at the top. ‘‘I think (Tom) was so stunned at the in­san­ity of the ask that he said yes,’’ says Shankman, who gives the char­ac­ter more of a cen­tral role than in the orig­i­nal stage pro­duc­tion. But could Cruise pull it off? ‘‘He’s never sung in his life. I mean there was Top Gun, but he wasn’t a singer,’’ says ex­ec­u­tive mu­sic pro­ducer Adam An­ders.

‘‘When I first went to hear him, I was like, ‘is this gonna work?’ ’’

Cruise threw him­self into the role with trade­mark in­ten­sity, so of course the an­swer was yes.

‘‘This char­ac­ter he cre­ated, it was amaz­ing,’’An­ders says.

‘‘It’s a mon­tage of all the great front­men put together.’’

Poi­son front­man Bret Michaels spoke with Cruise and Shankman dur­ing the pro­duc­tion and says he’s pleased to be part of the model.

‘‘Tom says it’s a mix­ture of Bret Michaels and Axl Rose,’’ he says.

‘‘It’s a look and stage per­sona of me – with the ban­danna and the cow­boy hat, the whole over-the-top rock star look – but this in­tense en­ergy that Axl had.’’

As be­fits a hair-metal he­do­nist, Cruise was clad head to toe in glam garb – a huge fur coat, cow­boy hat, leather pants and even chaps.

The piece de re­sis­tance? A cod­piece in the form of a devil’s face, paved with studs and rhine­stones. Of course, there are tat­toos. Many of them.

‘‘I stood next to him, two feet away, and the tat­toos looked real,’’ says Def Lep­pard front­man Joe Elliott, who was on set to see Cruise per­form Pour Some Sugar on Me.

‘‘We ended up hav­ing a lot of fun with it. I’d be point­ing at him, go­ing, ‘Make sure that you do this right!’ It was a very sur­real mo­ment,’’ Elliott says.

Cruise worked with chore­og­ra­pher Mia Michaels to hone his ‘‘walk, his swag­ger, his ’isms’’, she says.

‘‘He re­ally de­ter­mined the sex­u­al­ity and raw­ness of the char­ac­ter,’’ Michaels says.

‘‘He tried to top him­self at ev­ery mo­ment. Pour Some Sugar on Me (in front of an au­di­ence) was the first day of shoot­ing for him.

‘‘He just em­braced the whole phys­i­cal­ity of it.’’

opens today.

Malin Ak­er­man as Con­stance Sack and Tom Cruise as Stacee Jaxx in movie mu­si­cal

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.