SEX&DRUGS&ROCK&ROLL Comic-Con Panel Recap: Denis Leary Looks Cool in New Series

     July 13, 2015

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My spellcheck hates Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll. Too cool for spaces, Denis Leary’s newest FX series focuses on Johnny Rock (Leary), a fading rock star who, through drugs and his own abrasive nature, never quite made the big time. Johnny’s band mates (John Corbett & Robert Kelly) have all moved onto better, but he’s still stuck playing dive bars. Enter and up-and-coming singer (Elizabeth Gillies) who offers Johnny one last shot at redemption and a chance at rock-star success albeit through her career, not his. At Comic Con, the cast and creators of the series spoke about what sorts of bad behavior can be expected on the upcoming series.

Panel Recap

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Image via FX

  • This is Leary’s first trip to Comic Con. Leary revealed the weirdest moment that’s happened to him thus far: “I had an argument with a Batman, and a Thor came over and defended me… Now I’m a big Thor fan.”
  • Leary wrote the role of his former band mate Flash with John Corbett in mind. Leary stated that he saw John playing guitar on the Internet and knew that he would be perfect for the role. Leary didn’t want to find an actor and then have to teach him to play the guitar. He needed someone who could play the guitar and was also a great actor. John Corbett was the only option. Corbett added that he was actually “on tour with [his] band when [he] got offered the role.”
  • On the other hand, stand-up comedian Robert Kelly had never played the drums before he was cast as drummer Bam Bam. How do you learn to play the drums? Kelly joked, “Get pillows and some drumsticks.” “It was tough,” he revealed, “but eventually I learned.” Leary quickly backed up his co-star: “By the end of the season, we had to do a one shot of the band playing… and [Robert] really played and he played [the drums] perfectly.”
  • Everybody sleeps with everybody on the show – except Kelly’s Bam Bam.

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    Image via FX

    Who would be the dream rock star cameo for a hypothetical season two? Leary doesn’t miss a beat: “If the show is successful – David Bowie would be my first guy.” He elaborated: “70s music sucked. SUCKED. Prog Rock sucked… David Bowie saved me until The Ramones showed up…. This is a message for David Bowie – please come on my show.”

  • There’s more than just sex, drugs and rock and roll to the series. There’s also a surprising amount of heart. Leary cited that he saw many bands backstage and saw how they interacted with each other off-the-cuff. “You see the arguments but you can also see that they care about each other and they’ll never break up.” There’s a duality to this that interested Leary.

Audience Q&A

  • Could Leary ever actually be a rock-star? Leary self-deprecatingly offered, “You would actually have to be a cool person to be a rock-star. You can’t fake it. I’m just not cool enough to be an actual rock star.”
  • Former Nickelodeon star Gillies on transitioning to a much more adult role for the FX series: “It’s different from Nickelodeon in that there are no similarities,” she joked, “Even on Victorious, I had a racier sense of humor.”
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    Image via FX

    What’s it like transitioning away from the drama of Rescue Me? Per Leary: “This is the truth — it’s way easier to fake being a firefighter… The stunt men do the heavy lifting and most of the dangerous stunts.” It’s really hard to “look cool” while being on stage pretending to be a rock-star. Leary joked that there was ‘a lot of editing needed’ to convincingly depict him in the role.


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Image via FX

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