Tom's Cruising into a new rock'n'role in 'Rock of Ages'
He may have frolicked around in his tighty whiteys to 'Old Time Rock and Roll' in 'Risky Business' but megastar Tom Cruise has never been asked to head-up a musical before.
That did not put off ‘Rock of Ages’ director Adam Shankman from pitching his movie to Tom when the pair met by chance in LA. Shankman came straight to the point and asked the action star if he fancied a new Mission Impossible - donning a pair of leather trousers and embracing his inner rock star.
“I was thinking to myself, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if we got one of the biggest movie stars in the world to play one of the biggest rock stars in the world?’” Shankman reflects.
“As luck would have it, I ran into Tom Cruise, told him I was directing this movie, that it was a musical, and that I was going to offer him this part. He said, ‘Are you serious?’ I said I was. Then I described Stacee to him and he laughed. The next thing I knew, he was in and I was making a musical with Tom Cruise.”
‘Rock of Ages’ is based on the Broadway smash, which earned five Tony Award nominations. Set in the heady world of 80s glam rock-gripped Los Angeles, the movie follows small town girl Sherrie and city boy Drew, who meet on the Sunset Strip while pursuing their Hollywood dreams. Most of the action is set within the pulsating walls of a rock ‘n’ roll institution, ‘The Bourbon Room’.
The owner, Dennis, Alec Baldwin, is pinning his bar’s hopes of survival on hosting the farewell
gig of ‘Arsenal’ with its aging front man Stacee Jaxx (Cruise).
Cruise underwent a complete transformation for the role and Shankman admired his diligence. He said: “From the moment he signed on, Tom started training his voice with an incredible vocal coach, Ron Anderson. I remember the first time we heard him sing. He’s got this outrageous, four-octave range - turns out he has opera singers in his ancestry, so he’s probably genetically predisposed to sing, but no one’s ever asked him to before. I’m just the lucky recipient of this.”
SETTING THE BRA HIGH
When depicting an era where stage costumes were just as outlandish as the Rock stars who wore them, Shankman and his ‘Rock of Ages’ production designer, Jon Hutman, knew the authenticity of the sets, including that of The Bourbon Room, had to be spot on.
“We scouted the world for this movie,” Garrett Grant notes. “The Strip was key, but we knew we couldn’t use the real thing, so we went all over the United States and even Sydney, Australia, trying to find the right layout and architecture. Then we came upon this strip in Miami which worked perfectly.”
“We even hung 500 bras and 300 ties from the ceiling above the bar... We wanted it to feel like the place where rock ‘n’ roll was born.”