According to director Adam Shankman, Rock of Ages’ journey from stage to screen got its start when he found himself swept up by the crowd’s enthusiasm for the stage version. “The audience was having the best time I’d ever seen at a show,” he recalls. “Everybody knew the lyrics to all the songs and was out of their seats and singing along and having the time of their life. That enthusiasm, that sheer emotion, convinced me to make the movie.”
The golden era of Los Angeles’ Sunset Strip, when hair bands ruled the rock scene, is a part of Shankman’s past, he notes, and a memory that he still treasures. “My dad was a music business manager, and his office was on the Strip,” he says. “I knew a lot of artists. I was choreographing music videos in 1987 and it was a world that I really understood and loved, so turning back that clock was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”
Rock of Ages centers on a pair of Hollywood dreamers, Drew (Diego Boneta) and Sherrie (Julianne Hough) seeking to make it big in the music world. When they meet, they have the excitement of the moment as well as the hope for a bright future, and everything is great — until a misunderstanding, in the form of rock idol Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise), happens along.
Shankman couldn’t believe his luck in landing Cruise for the role of Stacee for Rock of Ages, and was even more astounded when the Academy Award nominee first started to sing. “From the moment he signed on, Tom started training his voice with an incredible vocal coach, Ron Anderson,” Shankman says. “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.”
In addition to the two leads and Cruise, the Rock of Ages boasts an incredible array of talent including Russell Brand, Paul Giamatti, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Mary J. Blige, Alec Baldwin and others.
A number of others, whose music surfaces in the film, appear in cameos as well, such as Nuno Bettencourt of Extreme, Night Ranger’s Joel Hoekstra, Debbie Gibson, Skid Row’s Sebastian Bach, and REO Speedwagon’s Kevin Cronin.
“We have a remarkable cast in this movie,” Shankman declares. “You start out with a wish list, and we were so fortunate as to get really everyone we wanted. We were truly blessed.”
Rock of Ages is available starting Oct. 9 on Video On Demand. Check your cable system for availability.
Photo: © 2012 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.