And her character’s take on ’80s hair metal fashion is pretty awesome, too.
First off, Rock of Ages is CRAZY. It’s awesome, horrible, amazing, cheesy, inspired, ridiculous, insane and very, very loud. Really, it doesn’t even feel like a movie and it’s kind of a bummer that you have to watch it in a theater. I imagine watching it in a rock club barely standing after having downed five wine coolers (or a bottle of Boone’s Strawberry wine—anyone remember that?) would be the ultimate viewing experience. But failing that, man, try to see it on IMAX.
In case you’ve been living under a rock (I mean, Tom Cruise is seriously everywhere), the movie is based on the ramshackle Broadway musical of the same name and stars an motley crew of Hollywood stars (unfortunately Motley Crue’s music is absent from the shenanigans). There’s Alec Baldwin as the gruff-but-goodhearted club owner. Russell Brand as his loopy sidekick. Paul Giamatti as a oily band manager. Mary J. Blige as a strip-club owner and Catherine Zeta Jones (doing her best PMRC-era Tipper Gore impersonation) as a rock ‘n’ roll hating zealot. They all sing, and it’s all too much, but like Bon Jovi says, "too much is never enough" and Rock of Ages does get you.
Or at least it got me. I don’t expect the movie to get a lot of love from critics—it’s a mess, but in my opinion, an exuberant, glorious mess. Maybe I’m being too forgiving, but as a person who frequented L.A. clubs including the Whiskey, Roxy and Cathouse, in the late ’80s, just before grunge took out hair metal (I will never forgive you, Nirvana), this movie is a must-see. Julianne Hough, who is basically the "small town girl living in a lonely world who took the midnight train going anywhere," is endearing in her big role opposite a sweet rocker boy (played by relative newcomer, Diego Boneta), but it’s really Malin Ackerman, as Rolling Stone journalist Constance Sack, and Tom Cruise, as the pseduo-mystical Axl Rose-esque Stacee Jaxx, who steal the show. Their scenes (including the much talked about "tonguiest tongue kiss of all time") are more fun than anything else in the movie. And that’s saying a lot.
So take it from a woman who once strutted the Sunset Strip in a tuxedo jacket with just a bra under it, a skull and crossbones-emblazoned miniskirt from a store called "Retail Slut" (OMG! Still exists!) cowboy boots and torn fishnets, this movie, for all its absurdities, does actually capure what was once a real time. And yes, it was that F’in crazy.
Read on to see what Ackerman has to say about her big-screen, big-haired role and get your ass to see Rock of Ages (trailers here) when it opens this Friday.
The movie is incredible, awesome and crazy! I was a metalhead, and it worked for me.
It’s as close to metal as you’ll get with any musical.
What did you think of Constance’s outfits?
Constance is a Rolling Stone reporter, so we had to have her be a little bit more conservative than all of the rock stars and singers. She’s really a lover of music and of Stacee Jaxx as an artist. I felt like there would have to be a little bit of rock and roll in her, so we decided on an outfit when you first meet her that’s a little bit “hot for teacher." She tried a little bit to look a little sexy for Stacee Jaxx, but also serious with her little Mozart shirt. But I think the high leather boots gave her a nice attitude. It gave us somewhere to go with her character as she becomes more rock and roll, so the second time we see her, she’s in like this black dress with tassels on it, and definitely more rock and roll. It’s a little bit more daring because she’s trying hard now to look good for her man.
Were the clothes vintage?
They were mainly vintage. Lita Ford came by set and gave me some of her clothes, and I ended up buying one of her leather jackets and taking it home with me. It was really awesome. Rita Ryack, the stylist, is kind of a rock and roller herself, so it was real deal stuff.
How long did your makeup and hair take? You hair is like a big, wild perm.
You know, we were very smart about it; we decided we were gonna wig it. That way we wouldn’t have to curl it every single day. it would have been too many hours in a hair chair. They could just prepare the wig, stick it on, and then fix it up a little bit. The makeup didn’t take too long because it wasn’t crazy rock and roll makeup for me.
The lips were a bit light and overall your look wasn’t too slutty.
Exactly, we wanted her look to be contrast from everyone else in the movie. We kept it kind of light and fun, and towards the end we got a little darker. We needed somewhere to go with it.
You were in a band yourself. What was your your onstage look was like when you were playing in a rock band?
We were kind of inspired by Evanescence and Linkin Park, so it was a little bit rock-punk—it was leather gloves with a black corset, and kind of like a plaid schoolgirl skirt with socks. Or it would be tight, ripped jeans and a cut-off t-shirt. It was all over the place—kind of just whatever mood I was in.
Are your band days behind you?
Band days, yes, but not music entirely. This movie kind of inspired me to get back into it. I don’t know what we’re going to do with it, but we’re [Malin and her husband, musician Roberto Zincone] just having fun right now playing music together.
It’s big news that you were cast as Debbie Harry for an upcoming biopic. Did that come about because of Rock of Ages?
I don’t know, I don’t know if they had thought of me for it before Rock of Ages came out, but I’m sure it must have helped. So I think they knew I had been in a band, and they had seen the videos. That movie will definitely be a lot gritter than Rock of Ages. It’s more of a bio pic on CBGB. It takes place over a four-year time period, and has all of the bands who were a part of that amazing club, and of course, Debbie Harry was one of them.
What kind of direction did you get for your kiss scene with Tom Cruise? Did the director tell you specifically to go tongue crazy?
That was in the script as “the tongueiest tongue kiss of all time.” We kept laughing whenever we read over that. And then we finally got to it, and we went, “Alright, what do you want with this thing?” And Adam [ Shankman, the director] was just like, "go for it, I don’t care, lick her eyeball if you have to!" So, we dove right in, tongue first!
What does this music mean to you? Are you a fan?
I have many memories associated with it. I grew up on this music; I love it. I’m a big rock fan and pretty much every single song in this movie I’ve heard many times. One of my first concerts was Bon Jovi. It’s the soundtrack of my childhood and teenage years.
Why do you think Constance sleeps with Stacee Jaxx? Was it his charisma?
She came in thinking she wasn’t going to do that at all, but I think it was that connection where she truly believed in him as an artist, what he used to be. When she finally gets the courage to tell him what she thinks of him, and he responds to it, I think it’s a huge moment for both of them, and they see each other in a new light. She gets through to him. It becomes very intriguing for him—he’s this sexy rock star, and he’s very appealing, and he’s open with her about love and what it feels like to be him—and ultimately that brings out something in both of them that they’ve been trying to hide a little bit.
You know she violated every rule of journalistic integrity.
Oh yes, I certainly know that. And I think that when she gets up afterwards and he says, “You can put that on the record,” she knows that she’s walking out of that room with no integrity whatsoever.
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