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.
At the film’s press day, actress Malin Akerman, who plays a Rolling Stone reporter that catches the eye of rock god Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise), talked about her love of ‘80s music, being a fan of ear licking, having Tom Cruise sing to her butt, trying not to crack up during takes, the weirdest experience she’s ever had with a journalist, and what she got to take home from the set. She also talked about how the Linda Lovelace movie she was set to do seems to currently be stalled, and that the next thing she’ll be doing is playing Debbie Harry in CBGB. Check out what she had to say after the jump:
Question: What would you say is most celebrated from the ‘80s, and what should never be brought back?
MALIN AKERMAN: I think we can leave mullets back in the ‘80s. I’m really not a big fan of them. I did like the permed hair that I had in the film. That was great. And I think that we should always have ‘80s music, forever and ever and ever. I’m a big fan.
What about the ear licking?
AKERMAN: I’m a big fan of that, too. Me and my character.
Was it hard to keep a straight face, doing that scene?
AKERMAN: Yes. We obviously had a lot of rehearsals to choreograph that whole thing, and that was not in the script. That was in the choreography, while we were trying to figure out what we were going to do. I’m such a big fan of physical comedy. I’m totally game. I love that kind of stuff. And Tom [Cruise] was totally game. It made us laugh and we were like, “Okay, if this is making us laugh, it’s got to make the audience laugh, too. It’s got to be fun.” So, it was just about pushing the limit as far as you can go for a PG-13 film, just having fun with it, and making it sexy and funny, but grounded. So, I loved it. I thought that was a really good moment.
What was it like to have Tom Cruise sing to your butt?
AKERMAN: Oh, that was normal. My husband does that, every morning. No. That was amazing! I don’t think that we got through one rehearsal with a straight face, when he did that. Every single time, we would crack up. It’s just ridiculous, in the best way possible.
How closed was the set, for that scene?
AKERMAN: Very closed. I wasn’t about to be frolicking in my skivvies with 50 gaffers around, god bless them. They’re amazing. I love them. But, I was in compromising positions. They’re always respectful and they always close the set down, but of course, everyone is over at the monitors watching. But, they make it as comfortable as possible.
What’s the weirdest interview experience you’ve had with a journalist?
AKERMAN: There were a few weird ones while we were doing Watchmen. We were in Europe somewhere and one guy came in dressed in a mask and superhero costume. It was his own, made-up one. It was like a dirty sock with holes in it that he’d painted something on. I can’t remember the name of what his superhero was. He said, “Why are all superheroes only American?” I said, “I don’t know. Are they?” He came in and was so anti-American. And then, he took off his mask and said, “It’s not working, nevermind!,” and he got up and left. I was like, “Okay.” I didn’t even know what was working or wasn’t working because nothing was working for me. It was the weirdest thing, ever. I don’t know what he wanted or what he was getting at, but obviously I wasn’t giving him what he wanted.
Who has had that Stacee Jaxx effect on you?
AKERMAN: Oh, my goodness! One of the first people that I met that did to me was Steven Spielberg. I still get speechless when I think about it. He’s done so much in his life and he’s so brilliant, and I got to work for his company on Heartbreak Kid, which is one of the first films that I did out here. I was sitting in my chair on set, and he came and sat beside me, and I was eating soup. I’ll never forget it because I was like, “I don’t know if I should continue eating my soup because I don’t know if I’ll spill it on myself, or if it’s rude to talk with soup in your mouth.” The stupidest thing was that I was so concentrated on the soup that, after awhile, no words were coming out of my mouth. He was like, “All right, nice chatting with you, Malin. I’ll see you later.” I was like, “God, I didn’t say anything.” But, I have walked by Mick Jagger at a party and I could smell his hair. That was awesome! That was really great.
Are you doing the Linda Lovelace movie next?
AKERMAN: I don’t know what’s happening with that movie, to be honest with you. We’ll see.
Is that because of the other movie about her?
AKERMAN: No, that has nothing to do with it. It’s just one that’s not happening, at the moment, unfortunately. The next one I’ll be doing is a movie about CBGB, playing Debbie Harry.
Have you met her?
AKERMAN: I haven’t met her, no. I would love to. I met her drummer, Clem [Burke], and that was really amazing. He had a lot of stories about her. She’s apparently a really cool chick, which is no surprise.
What’s the focus of that movie?
AKERMAN: The focus is really about CBGB and the beginnings of it, and the owner, Hilly, who created it. It will be a four-year time span, and it will present all these different artists that came through and became something, thanks to CBGB. Debbie Harry was, of course, a part of that crew.
Rock of Ages is the fantasy version of that era and industry. How gritty will CBGB get?
AKERMAN: I think it will be a lot more gritty, for sure, as opposed to big dance numbers. It will be a little bit more about documenting the real moments and the real bands, how they became who they are and what happened at CBGB. Also, the budget is a lot smaller and it will be a shorter shooting period.
What Blondie songs are you going to sing?
AKERMAN: “X Offender” is one. I’m not doing “Heart of Glass.” That came later. This is set in ‘73 and ‘74, so it’s some of her first songs. I can’t remember the other one I’m doing. And I don’t know if I’ll actually be singing them, or just lip syncing. I hope I’ll be singing, but that’s a budget thing. It costs a lot to record. We’ll see.
You’ve been in a rock band yourself, right?
AKERMAN: I have, yeah.
Was that a serious endeavor for you?
AKERMAN: Not really. I came out here to do the acting thing, and then, after a year of auditions and not getting anything, I met these Italian guys and they asked me to write lyrics for them. Then they said, “Why don’t you just front the band?” I said, “Well, maybe because I can’t sing. I’ve never sang before in my life.” But, we did and it was just a fun thing. I’m self-taught. We recorded in a closet. We did that for a year and a half, and it was so much fun, but nothing ever came of it.
Did you put anything out?
AKERMAN: We did. We recorded a CD. We did it all ourselves. We put it out. It’s on iTunes. We did this video with these student videographers from the New York Film Academy, and we had a blast. Of course, we were really trying to do it for real, but nothing ever came of it, so I said, “All right, I’m going to give acting one last shot. If it doesn’t work, I’m going back to Toronto.”
But, you got your husband from being in the band, right?
AKERMAN: I certainly did. He was my drummer. It’s funny because a friend of mine gave me a book, right when I became a part of their band, that was titled Don’t Sleep With Your Drummer, and guess who I married. If you challenge me, I’ll do it. It’s horrible.
Why are rockers so appealing then?
AKERMAN: It’s so funny because you think you’re attracted to this bad boy. They do whatever they want, but you don’t really want that. You don’t want someone who’s out on a tour bus, sleeping around with different people and getting wasted. I don’t really want that, but I like the image of someone who will just throw you around. I don’t know what it is. The funny thing is that my husband couldn’t be sweeter. He looks like this bad boy. He’s got tattoos and earrings and a Mohawk, but when you talk to him and he’s around you, he’s such a gentleman. He holds doors for ladies. He pulls out chairs. He cooks. He cleans. He’s an Italian boy, who grew up in the south of Italy with a family. His parents have been together for 40 years, and he takes such good care of his mom. It’s just beautiful. So, ultimately, I guess I don’t really want that. I like the image. I love watching him be real and visceral, on stage. I love watching him drum. It’s so great, and he’s such a talented drummer. With anyone, when you watch them do what they do best, it’s attractive.
Is he in a band right now?
AKERMAN: He is. He’s in two different bands that he plays with here, locally, in L.A. But, mainly, his focus here has been studio session work. He’s a musical director and he develops new talent, which is great. I prefer him here rather than on a tour bus.
Because you have such intimate scenes with him, did you have time on this movie to break the ice with Tom Cruise?
AKERMAN: We knew each other from before because I had done a film with his wife, Katie [Holmes]. Through that, we had gotten to know each other. We had dinners together, and that was really nice. It’s always nice to know somebody. I also knew Adam Shankman, through Anne Fletcher, who I’d worked with on 27 Dresses, and she’s one of his best friends. Justin Theroux who was in Wanderlust with me. So, it was a very familiar set. It was great because, if you have intimate scenes with someone, you feel way more comfortable if you know the person, you know what they’re about, and you know there will be no funny business. Tom is the most respectful person that you’ll ever meet, and that’s really important when you’re doing those kinds of scenes. He’s just so professional. He’s done it for so long. There’s a reason why his career has been so long-lived, and that’s because he’s just amazing. You really walk away from that experience a better actor. He’s so present when he’s acting with you, that your job is easy. You just have to react and you’ll be doing a good job. So, it was amazing to work with him, especially after having followed his body of work, throughout the years. It was incredible to work with someone who is that talented. It’s great, and he’s really game. He’s got a great sense of humor and goes for it, which I love. Anyone who does physical comedy with me, I’m happy. It’s like two kids playing. I’m like, “Oh, you’ll play that game with me? Great!”
If you kept cracking up in rehearsals, when did you finally get through a take?
AKERMAN: Once you’re on set and you’re really in character and you’re playing the emotions that you’re playing, then you stop thinking about what you’re doing. It was the initial rehearsals, where you’re going, “Oh, my god, this crazy!” When you’re inventing new things and doing new moves, that’s when you’re laughing the hardest because you’re not really in character. You’re just trying to learn the moves. But, once they call, “Action!,” you’re in it and you transport yourself to a different place. And then, they call, “Cut!,” and you go, “Oh, I’m in my underwear. How did that happen?” So, it was fine, once we were on set.
Did you and Tom do all of your work together, in one block?
AKERMAN: Actually, yeah. I was there for three weeks total, so all of my stuff in the movie was done within that three weeks. It felt like three-week increments. Russell [Brand] and Alec [Baldwin] did their thing, and then we crossed over. Catherine [Zeta-Jones] came in the day after I left, so I didn’t get to meet her. It’s such a big ensemble cast.
Did you keep any souvenirs from this movie?
AKERMAN: I did. I got the coolest souvenirs. Lita Ford came by the set, which was awesome, and I have a leather jacket of hers. She lent some of her clothes to this movie, and then she said, “If anyone wants to buy them, I’ll sell them for a hundred bucks a piece.” I was like, “Yeah, I’ll take Lita Ford’s jacket for a hundred bucks!” It’s hand painted on the back. It’s so cool! I’m going to keep that forever. I would have bought that on eBay for a thousand dollars.