Hollywood’s famed Sunset Strip, 1987. Rockers wail and heads bang inside the packed and pulsating walls of a rock ‘n’ roll institution, The Bourbon Room. Heart strings are plucked and electric guitar sparks fly to the beat of some of the greatest hits of the ’80s…the “Rock of Ages.”
The Broadway hit now goes from stage to screen under the direction of Adam Shankman, who also executive produces the film. Shankman, who grew up in Los Angeles, felt right at home in the setting. “My dad was a music business manager, and his office was on the Strip,” he says. “I knew a lot of artists. I was choreographing music videos in 1987 and it was a world that I really understood and loved, so turning back that clock was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”
At the core of the film is a boy-meets-girl love story woven into classic, only-in-Hollywood dreams of fame. Shankman’s sister and producing partner, Jennifer Gibgot, elaborates, “Like so many people in L.A., the young lovers in ‘Rock of Ages’ have come here hoping to make it big and thinking it’s going to be easy. But it turns out to be a lot harder to stay on the path, to keep believing in the thing that led them there in the first place.”
The movie also shows the other side of the coin: what it was like to have achieved the fame and fortune that ’80s glam bands so thoroughly and unabashedly enjoyed. Fellow native Angelino and producer Garrett Grant, who grew up listening to that music and idolizing the artists, emphasizes, “It was important to portray the period authentically, and hit the tone as much as we could in order to truly pay homage to the rock stars—rock gods, really—of that generation.”
Julianne Hough and Diego Boneta portray the young couple with stars in their eyes at the center of the story. They are joined by an all-star cast that includes Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand, Paul Giamatti, Mary J. Blige, Malin Akerman and Catherine Zeta-Jones. And playing the rock god of “Rock of Ages,” Arsenal lead singer Stacee Jaxx, is Tom Cruise.
For Shankman, the journey began when he went to see “Rock of Ages” on the stage. He recalls, “The audience was having the best time I’d ever seen at a show. Everybody knew the lyrics to all the songs and was out of their seats and singing along and having the time of their life. That enthusiasm, that sheer emotion, convinced me to make the movie.”
It wasn’t his only reason for revisiting the era, however. “I thought it would be an interesting challenge to make a movie musical that guys would drag their girlfriends to for a change.”
Related Link: View the Full Production Notes for Rock of Ages