“What was really fun was taking Julianne and Diego and explaining to them who they were and how they fit in,” Shankman said. “Educating them, kicking the country out of her voice, kicking the boy-band out of his voice, sending them to kind of rock star college.”
This involved a vocal consultant, choreographers and even guitar consultant Eric Jackson, who taught both Boneta and Cruise to play for the film. Jackson also had his students study the stage moves of such rock royalty as Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, Slash and Eric Clapton, as well as some of the artists whose music they'd be playing, including Brett Michaels, Jon Bon Jovi and Dee Snider.
The star pupil turned out to be Cruise.
“We took him to a voice coach, and he worked with him in one session,” Shankman said. “Believe me, I was holding a glass to the door. It was amazing, the range that was coming out of him and the size of his voice. Every note is him. I mean, the last challenge I threw at him was ‘Paradise City' (by Guns N' Roses), and I turned to (Executive Music Producer) Adam Anders, I said, ‘Is he gonna be able to do it?' He said, ‘We'll see,' and he came in and he knocked it out.”
Cruise apparently proved himself to be quite the athletic hoofer, too, impressing even Hough, the prizewinning professional ballroom dancer. In fact, one song and dance scene with Hough and Cruise was deemed too hot for a PG-13, and had to be cut from the film.
Hough called it a “musical lap dance.”
“‘Rock You Like a Hurricane' was the duet I did with Tom, and it is bad (expletive deleted),” Hough said. “I mean it is really (expletive deleted). Literally, this was like the sexiest ... performance in the movie, and I think it was a little too much for people. I think people — especially mothers — didn't like Sherrie after that, so they cut it out. But it will be out on the DVD for sure.
“This is the most physical dancing that I saw Tom do,” she said. “I can't wait for him to see that, too. He was just amazing.”
Boneta recalled that Cruise's performances also impressed several real '80s rock stars who were present on the set to do cameos.
“Joe Elliott of Def Leppard went up to Tom and goes (affecting a British accent), ‘You're a movie star, you're a rock star.' I mean, what can't Tom do?” Boneta said. “And not only is he very talented, but he's just as humble as he is talented. That's my favorite combination.”
Shankman enthusiastically agreed.
“I now think there is actually nothing Tom Cruise can't do,” the director said. “If someone asked him to play an invisible water buffalo he would do it very successfully. He'd probably say, ‘Give me some time. Let me work on it.'”