In the feature film adaptation of the smash hit Broadway musical Rock of Ages, small town girl Sherrie (Julianne Hough) and city boy Drew (Diego Boneta) meet on the Sunset Strip in 1987, in pursuit of their Hollywood dreams. With the hits of Def Leppard, Foreigner, Journey, Poison, REO Speedwagon, Twisted Sister and so many more, to help tell the story, their rock ‘n’ roll romance hits its fair share of speed bumps on the road to fame. For more on the film, watch eight clips here.
At the film’s press day, co-stars Julianne Hough and Diego Boneta talked about what it was like for them when they each came to Hollywood, when they felt like their career was on the right track, what Tom Cruise was like as rock god Stacee Jaxx, how tough pole dancing can be, having some of the original rock stars perform for them on a lunch break, and the cut lap dance scene between Hough and Cruise that will make it on the DVD. Julianne also talked about focusing on her acting career and what she’s doing next, while Diego talked about his new MTV show Underemployed and the album he’s working on with Adam Levine (Maroon 5). Check out what they had to say after the jump.
Question: What did this film get right about the ‘80s, and what would you never want to see brought back?
JULIANNE HOUGH: I think that Adam Shankman did this movie right, so there doesn’t need to be any more ‘80s music movies. No. I think the music is so incredible and the melodies from the ‘80s are really what made the songs so iconic and classic. I wish there would be more melodies like that today, in music. Look, I am not dogging on non-melodic pop music because I love it, but I am saying that is why the timeless songs are still here. It’s because of the melody. As far as what shouldn’t be brought back, the high-waisted bikini bottoms.
Julianne, was the pole dancing tough?
HOUGH: It was extremely tough! I thought it was going to be a lot of bumping and grinding on a pole, and then I found out that there is actual upper body strength that you need to have. My arms were totally ripped. Those were pole specialists. There is one girl that walked down the air backwards, hanging on with one hand. It was absolutely incredible. It was tough.
Did you have any injuries?
HOUGH: I had bruises everywhere, all along the inner thighs. And there were just lots of sore muscles.
Diego, what was it like for you, when you first came to Hollywood?
DIEGO BONETA: It was tough, man. I moved from Mexico City with my family, to start again, from ground zero. When you move to L.A., there is a lot of competition. It is the Mecca of the entertainment business. I realized how much I loved what I did and how much I wanted it. It was all about the perseverance, the discipline and preparation, and not giving up, that made all this happen.
Wasn’t it odd to be a superstar from when you were 14 and you couldn’t walk around the streets in Mexico to coming to Los Angeles and being a total unknown and starting all over again?
BONETA: It was crazy! It was very weird. I felt like I was Bruce Wayne. I was going and doing concerts in Latin America, where I was Batman, and then I would back and no one knew who I was. It was very humbling. I started appreciating getting recognized a lot more because no one really cared here. It was really weird.
Julianne, what was your experience of coming to Hollywood?
HOUGH: Mine was very unconventional. I had $2,000 in my pocket when I came to L.A. and I told my Dad I had $5,000, so I could move out here. My rent was $800 a month, so that was not a lot of money. But, I was lucky. Everything that I went out for, whether it was booking a commercial or doing something for choreography, I just knew I had to get it, otherwise I would have to go home, so I always somehow got it. I worked hard for it. I remember that I lived with a bunch of models. They would do a job and get like $10,000 and I would be like, “This sucks!” And then, they wouldn’t work for a month. They would just be in their pajamas when I left, and then, when I came home, they would still be in their pajamas, while I was out working and auditioning. I thought they were so lucky. We are still really good friends now, but it was hard. I was working my butt off.
What commercials did you do?
HOUGH: I did this one commercial for shoes. It wasn’t a national commercial, but I danced in it. It was a lot of dancing stuff.
During the time when you were struggling, was there an experience you had that made you go, “Yeah, this is Hollywood. I am here and I am stoked to be here,” that made you feel like you were a part of the Hollywood magic, like your characters?
BONETA: That is a good question. I think just being here and knowing that each audition was a step closer to whatever was going to be coming next. It was about not looking at that one audition that you were going out for, but what could happen after that. This is kind of a crazy story, but in the summer of 2010, I auditioned for Glee, for the role that Chord Overstreet got. There were three finalists, and Chord was one of them and I was another one, but I didn’t get the part. I was very happy for Chord, but I was very bummed because I thought that was the perfect job. Then, a year later, after I got Rock of Ages, (director) Adam [Shankman] and I were talking. For the Glee audition, I had to put myself on tape singing “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” Adam said, “Diego, I knew it was you when I YouTubed you and that darn “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” video came up.” Never, in a million years, would I have thought that that video was going to get me Rock of Ages. There was something brilliant that Steve Jobs said in a speech: “You can never connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking back.” That is one of those examples. You just never know.
HOUGH: There have been a lot of moments for me. Just being a part of the Dancing with the Stars family. The first time I came back from not being on the show, and I had to perform as a singer and actress, and be on the show that started everything, that was the moment when I was like, “Holy cow! I feel like I am actually a part of not just a reality show, but as part of Hollywood and the entertainment world.”
Can you talk about Tom Cruise, as a rock god?
HOUGH: He really is a rock god. I would have loved to have seen him, actually in the ‘80s, as Stacee Jax, because I think he would have been the most sought-after rock star, if he had been there.
BONETA: On set, when Tom performed “Pour Some Sugar on Me,” Joe Elliott from Def Lepard said, “You are a movie star. You are a rock star. I f’n hate you!” What can’t Tom do? Not only is he very talented, but he is just as humble as he is talented, which is my favorite combination.
What was it like to have some of the original rock stars who created these songs on set?
HOUGH: It was very cool!
BONETA: In the scene with the mash-up of “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” Sebastian Bach was there and Nuno [Bettencourt] from Extreme was there. They were all there with Russell [Brand]. They performed for us on our lunch break once, which was insane.
Julianne, what was it like to work with Mary J. Blige?
HOUGH: I was starstruck to work with Tom Cruise, but there was also this overwhelming nervousness that I had when I would sing with Mary J. because I don’t think there is anybody as influential, especially in R&B music, as Mary J. has been, and just the success that she has had and the human being that she is. We were on set, for hours in a strip club and, a lot of the time, we weren’t being used because they were shooting the other dancers, so there was a lot of downtime where we just bonded. We are really close. She calls and leaves me messages, out of the blue, all the time that are like, “I just want you to know that I love you so much, Julianne, and you are so amazing.” She just boosts my confidence, every day. She said, “I am here for you, whether I am your friend, your sister, your aunt, your mom. Whatever you want me to be, I will be.” My dad was obsessed with her. He did not get starstruck over anybody, and hasn’t, with anybody I have been around. He got to sing “Happy Birthday” to somebody with Mary J. Blige, and he still talks about it. Even if he is talking about something else, he will bring it up somehow because it is the highlight of his life.
Are there any songs that got cut, that might be on the DVD?
HOUGH: Yes. “Rock You Like a Hurricane” is the duet that I did with Tom [Cruise], and it is bad freakin’ ass. And it is literally ass. It was the sexiest performance in the movie, but I think it was a little bit too much for people. People, especially women, didn’t like Sherrie after that, so they cut it out. But, it will be on the DVD, for sure. I like to say that it is a musical lap dance. If you take out the music, it was a little woo-woo, but with the music there, we were singing and dancing. It was the most physical dancing that I saw Tom do. I can’t wait for people to see that. He was amazing!
Julianne, you sing in Rock of Ages, but don’t dance. You were just announced for the next Nicholas Sparks movie, Safe Haven, and it doesn’t sound as if you will be singing or dancing in that. Where do you see your career going now?
HOUGH: I actually just did another film with Russell [Brand] that was Diablo Cody’s directorial debut, and I didn’t dance in that either. I just love to entertain. Dancing is a part of my life. When I don’t dance, I feel that there is something missing because I am such a physical person who loves to express myself through dance. I love to act, I love to sing and I love to entertain, so if I am passionate about a certain project and I want to do it, I hope to stretch my acting skills. I got to a point in my dancing, where I did so much hard work and I achieved a lot of great things, but I wanted to try something else and put that same kind of commitment into something that I was also passionate about. I have had so many opportunities with my dancing, and now I am just excited to get better, as an actress.
Diego, what’s next for you?
BONETA: I am working on my third album, and I am working with Adam Levine (from Maroon 5). He signed me to his label. We have been working together and finding just the right songs for this album, which will hopefully be coming out later this year. I am also in Chicago right now, shooting an MTV show called Underemployed, which was created by Craig Wright, who is an amazing writer. It is my first time playing the comedic levity of a project, which has been a lot of fun. There are a lot of funny scenes. It has been a great learning experience.
Julianne, don’t you also have an album coming out?
HOUGH: I have a second record completely done, but we will see when that comes out. I want to be able to give the right time and commitment it takes to promote an album, the way it does for a movie, so we’re waiting until the right time.
Are you going to get married?
HOUGH: Oh, goodness! Eventually, definitely. I was put on this earth to get married and have babies!