Ashley Greene and Johnny Galecki Talk CBGB, the First Concerts They Ever Went To, Working with Alan Rickman, and More

     October 9, 2013


CBGB tells the story of how the ever-determined Hilly Kristal (Alan Rickman) borrowed money to buy a watering hole in what was then New York’s skid row.  By giving a stage to live musicians, the bands that came were primitive and unrehearsed, but sparked a DIY punk movement with their raw sound and changed the world of music forever.

At the recent L.A. press day, Collider got the opportunity to chat with co-stars Ashley Greene (who plays Hilly’s daughter, Lisa) and Johnny Galecki (who plays music manager Terry Ork).  They talked about how much they knew about CBGB and the music scene that came out of there, prior to doing the film, what made them want to play their characters, the first live concert that they went to, their most fun day of shooting, and what it was like to work with Alan Rickman.  Hit the jump to watch the video or read the transcript.  CBGB opens in theaters on October 11th.

Since the audio on the video didn’t pick up the questions, I’ve also included the transcript below the video.

Ashley Greene and Johnny Galecki:

  • What they knew about CBGB and the music scene there, before working on this film
  • What made them want to play these characters
  • The first live concert that they went to, and why it made an impression
  • Their most fun day of shooting
  • Working with someone the caliber of Alan Rickman


cbgb-poster-1Before you started working on this film, did you guys know anything about CBGB or the music scene that was going on there, and how it affected the music world, in general?

ASHLEY GREENE:  I was aware of it, but not to the extent that I am now.  It was just before my time, I think.  So, for me, it was really exciting to get to explore that whole world.

JOHNNY GALECKI:  I was very aware.  I thought I knew a lot more than I had come to learn, and that I had to learn, but it was all wonderful stuff to learn.  I think I had the common misconception that’s shared about the club, that it was very hardcore and hostile, and even violent, and it wasn’t.  It was a very, very supportive place that these artists shared.

What was it that ultimately made you want to be a part of telling this story and playing these characters?

GREENE:  For me, it’s a really exciting thing to be able to help portray this moment in time at this establishment that was such a big piece and part of people’s lives.  I think that music is a very, very powerful thing, especially when you have a movement like this to shed new light on music and the power of it.  So, it was a no-brainer for me to hope on.

GALECKI:  Just selfishly, I wanted to be associated with something as synonymous with cool and cutting edge and artistic as CBGB.  People are aware of that, at least, even if nothing else.  That’s something to be proud of, to be a small part of the association with something like that. 

cbgb-movie-2What is the first live concert that you went to, that made an impression on you and that you still remember?

GREENE:  Mine was a Jimmy Buffett concert. 

GALECKI:  That’s great!  You could certainly do worse.  Geez!  It wasn’t New Kids on the Block, or anything.

GREENE:  I’m just being honest.  Part of it was just the whole experience.  It was more than just going and seeing someone.  There was this whole community.  There were water balloon fights in the parking lot.  And I sat on someone’s shoulders to watch the concert because I was short.  It was just a really fun experience.

GALECKI:  Mine was INXS on the Kick Tour.  It could have been Danzig, or something like that.  God, what a spectacle!  I was 12 or 13, and I don’t think I had ever seen 25,000 people in the same area, sharing this experience.  There were no water balloon fights, but it was still a good time.  I lost a shoe, which is always a sign of a good concert.  I wonder where that shoe is today.

GREENE:  Someone probably has it, and framed it. 

GALECKI:  Let’s hope so! 

GREENE:  It’s a cool thing, to see one band or person affect so many people, in such a large way.

cbgb-ashley-greene-alan-rickmanMy first concert was George Michael, on the Faith Tour.

GALECKI:  That’s pretty good!  It’s not Danzig.  I don’t know why I keep bringing up Danzig.

What was the most fun day of shooting for you guys?

GREENE:  There was a day where they had both Blondie and Iggy [Pop] on stage, fighting for the mic, and that was a fun day to be a part of. 

GALECKI:  My scenes with Taylor [Hawkins], I was really looking forward to because I’m a big fan of the Foo Fighters and his incredible drumming, for many, many years.  That was a good day.  I left before his stage dive.  He was upset that I left.  He wanted me to stay for support, and I was just tired and wanted to go to bed, so I was like, “You’ve got it, buddy!  You’ve got it!”  And I can’t imagine that that would have been Taylor’s first stage dive.  I knew that he had it down. 

GREENE:  And you knew girls would catch him.

GALECKI:  Exactly! 

cbgb-ashley-greeneWhat was it like to work with Alan Rickman, and see him go all in, the way he did with this role?  Does that make you want to up your game?

GALECKI:  I was very envious of Ashley.  What a complicated dynamic, those characters had.  They really gave the film heart.  It was really beautiful work, if you don’t mind my saying.

GREENE:  Thank you!  It was phenomenal, working with him.  It’s always a really great thing to have an actor that does make you want to up your game.  It naturally motivates you to do and try things that maybe you wouldn’t necessarily do or try.  And he was very, very supportive, and it was very safe.  You never know, when you’re going in to work with people, especially of his caliber, if they’re gonna be friendly or judgmental, or what have you.  There’s a ton of insecurities that go into my head, before I start working with someone. 

GALECKI:  For example, I was a nightmare. 

GREENE:  We actually had all these scenes together, and I was like, “I’m not gonna do them!”  But no, it was a really, really fun experience to have.

CBGB opens in theaters on October 11th.

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  • Mark Dana Kristal

    I’m Mark Dana Kristal. My father was, Hilly Kristal and mother is Karen Kristal. My mother was the owner of Sareb Rest Corp Doing Business as CBGB until my sister and father finally got it away from her when she was too old to protect herself. {See the Village Voice article by Mike Clancy.} My father wanted to get rid of his old partners from Hilly’s on the Bowery, so he urged my mother to become the owner and in return promised her that the business was for me, Lisa Kristal, who is my sister, my mother and himself, and she agreed . My mother is the real person that negotiated with the IRS to pay the back taxes when my father screwed up. Karen Kristal is also the person that thought of making the bands play only original music. It was to get around paying Ascap. I remember my father would be sitting at his desk near the front door and a reporter would ask him why he only had original music in CBGB. I’d be sitting at the bar with my mother listening. He’d answer grinning,” It’s a philosophy.” “Mom I’d say, why don’t you tell them the truth?” She’d laugh and say, that he needs it. But I think she needed it too, she was just so afraid of how mad Dad would get if she said anything. Mom won an art scholarship to the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and studied calligraphy, the art of lettering. The logo was designed from my mother’s canopy art work. In the film they have my father painting the CBGB canopy. Some-how my father hid the money he made from the CBGB tee shirts and any of the CBGB profits from my mother and she was too afraid of him to do anything about it. My mother actually painted the CBGB canopy while I held the ladder. In 1979 I began writing a story that weaves around growing up on the Bowery in CBGB. My mother helped me make it into a screenplay in my sister’s apartment on her computer. Less than three years ago Lisa, who is a lawyer, said that she hopes my mother and I make a lot of money from our film project. Even though my primary motivation was not Lisa’s hope, I appreciated her comment. My main motivation was for my mother to see me make the CBGB movie in her life time. She never made any money from CBGB and I wanted to make up for the recognition she never received. She lives off her social security and is bed ridden. I even won two first place prizes in two film festivals in my pursuit of this dream. I was shocked when I found out that Lisa was making a movie and sold the exclusive rights to the use of the logo my mother designed to make her own film. I may need a lawyer to resolve this. Artie Lange started in my mother’s Improv Theater in the CBGB gallery. He’d let me take a polygraph on any of these statements that I just made on his satellite show. I’d love to have my sister come on and take one too. I can be contacted by phone in Manhattan and by gmail.

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