Cruise rocks as debauchery-damaged singer in musical tribute to '80s hair metal
BY GENE TRIPLETT
LOS ANGELES — They say people will talk about you if you don’t show up for the party, and the absent Tom Cruise was the hot topic of conversation among the cast members and filmmakers of “Rock of Ages” when they gathered at the ritzy London Hotel last week to promote their film.
It’s Cruise, after all, who’s generating the most buzz for his electric portrayal of rock god Stacee Jaxx in the screen adaptation of Broadway’s musical comedy celebration of the ’80s.
“He really is, I mean, he is a rock god,” said Julianne Hough, the actress and two-time “Dancing with the Stars” champ who plays Sherrie Christian in the film.
“I would have loved to have seen him actually in the ’80s as Stacee Jaxx because I think he would have been the most sought-after rock star in the ’80s — if he would’ve been there,” she said.
Of course, unlike Hough, who wasn’t even born until 1988, Cruise was there, and he knows what it was like to become famous in that decade of hair metal decadence, even if he didn’t succumb to the same marathon-party temptations that ravage his character in “Rock of Ages.”
That was just one of the actor’s attributes that Adam Shankman (“Hairspray”) considered when he was tapped to direct the film.
“For me he was the only candidate the second I said yes, because I’ll tell ya, his audition was ‘Tropic Thunder,’” Shankman said, referring to the Ben Stiller-directed 2008 action spoof featuring Cruise as a hotheaded, foul-mouthed movie studio executive.
“The second I saw him in ‘Tropic Thunder,’ I thought, ‘Oh my God, I never knew that this guy would commit to a comedic character with such success, and he’s hilarious and totally willing to take the p— out of himself.’ And I needed that from this character.
“When this became very real, I thought, ‘Oh my God, here I get one of the biggest movie stars in the world to play one of the biggest rock stars in the world, he’ll come with some knowledge of that discomfort about fame and talking about what this kind of fame is. He’ll have more knowledge than if I just got someone else. And (Cruise is) someone who had so much fame in the ’80s.’”
About the movie
“Rock of Ages” actually focuses on Hough’s character, Sherrie, a country girl from Oklahoma (Where else?), and city boy Drew (newcomer Diego Boneta), who meet and fall in love while working at the Bourbon Room, the hottest rock ‘n’ roll spot on Hollywood’s Sunset Strip, circa 1987.
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