Rock music from the ’80s still resonates today for a variety of reasons. There’s a certain glamour that stuck to the supposed rock gods of that era. Between their amazing voices, flashy demeanor and long, teased hair, they were people many admired. Those days have come and gone, but the spirit of the music and decade is still alive in Adam Shankman’s new movie Rock of Ages.
Malin Akerman plays Constance Sack, a Rolling Stone reporter who gets the interview of a lifetime with rock star Stacey Jaxx (Tom Cruise). We recently spoke to Akerman about what it’s like playing Cruise’s love interest, the music of that time and strutting her vocal pipes on screen.
Malin’s character is best known for getting romantically involved with Jaxx. Therefore, her and Cruise spent lots of time together. Cruise is known for surprising his co-stars, and we wondered if he managed to do that to Malin?
Malin Akerman: I was surprised. He is really intense and has all these amazing action flicks. I was amazed at his sense of humor and how far he wanted to go. But again, that’s why he is who he is. That’s why he’s had such a long career because he’s game for anything. I didn’t really know what to expect in that sense working with him. I’ve met him a few times before and he’s so lovely and charming, but acting with someone can be very different. Tom loved Adam Shankman’s humor, ate it up, was so on board and had a great sense of humor. That was sort of the surprising part. Not that I didn’t think he wasn’t funny, but he’s more of an intense actor. He was ready to go all the way for comedy.
Her character’s shining moment includes her and Cruise singing a duet, while throwing each other into different positions. Though some may think it would be uncomfortable to shoot that kind of physical comedy, Malin had a blast.
Malin Akerman: I love physical comedy. I feel really comfortable doing any kind of physical comedy. I get excited when you push a limit, when you’re like ‘Let’s go this far.’ and I’ll go ‘Well, what about a little bit further?’ I just love that kind of stuff so when we started the rehearsals I guess it was a little bit of ‘Okay, sure let’s do this.’ I just kept looking at Tom. I’m like ‘Are you cool with this? Cause I’m cool with this!’ He’s like ‘Yeah, this is hilarious.’ So that was sort of my concern was more for him and what he was going to be cool with. The rehearsals were a lot of fun. The tongue in the ear kind of singing things were invented during the rehearsals. I think anytime something comes along that we find funny, I think that’s sort of a sign that all right, I think the audience is gonna love this. That’s sort of how we gauge it.
Malin was well-prepared for Cruise, but extremely nervous about her singing. Why would she be scared to sing? A few years ago, she was the lead vocalist in an Italian band.
Malin Akerman: This was the most nerve-racking part of this whole process. I did have a band in 2002, but that was sort of a fluke to be really honest. I was helping these Italian guys write lyrics in English and they kind of just asked me to become the singer of the band. I wasn’t getting any acting jobs so I was like so who doesn’t want to be a rock star kind of thing. [It's] sort of like the theme in this film. And so we did that for a year and a half, but it was self-taught recording in a closet. Nothing ever happened with it, and then all of a sudden here we are doing this big musical singing an epic song. The pressure is on, you don’t want to mess it up. And then it’s intimidating to go into a studio with these producers who’ve produced really great artists. You kind of feel embarrassed if you can’t hit the note and the sound is off.
Like the rest of us, Malin is a rocker chick at heart. She talks about her love of the genre and how delighted she was to be in a movie based on this catchy musical.
Malin Akerman: My favorite bands growing up were Metallica, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC. My first rock concert was Bon Jovi, so this was… I went and watched the Broadway show twice before I even knew the movie was going to be made because I’m just a big fan of music. Music and comedy put together was the perfect mix, so honestly this was my jam. I loved it.
Now that Malin’s had a taste of singing in front of the camera, she’s ready to take on her next role playing the iconic singer Deborah Harry from the band Blondie. She gave us some details about her upcoming film CBGB.
Malin Akerman: I don’t know yet if I will be singing or lip-syncing her stuff. It’s a very small budget movie compared to this one. It’ll be shot in five weeks and it’s about CBGB and the owner of CBGB. So we’ll see a lot of the artists that went through CBGB and obviously Blondie was one of them. I think we’re performing maybe two songs throughout the film and a little bit of dialogue and I’m really, really excited. I met Clem, her drummer just recently and was like ‘What was she like? Was she cool?’ I’m hoping I get the chance to speak to her as well. I’m a huge fan of hers and many of the artists that went through CBGB, so it’s exciting.
Lastly, there were a few press folk who were interested in hearing what Malin had to say about playing a reporter that ends up sleeping with a rock star. She explains how even though they hit the sheets, Constance is still a good person — despite her faults.
Malin Akerman: I think that was obviously in her case completely unexpected. She came in with a lot of integrity and walked out with none. But definitely, I don’t think that was intentional. You can tell by her little cutesy underwear that she wasn’t wearing a thong thinking she was gonna get some. But I think they were both shocked and surprised. She is a serious journalist who came in and was a real music lover and really believed in Stacey Jaxx, what he used to be and was disappointed. She wanted him to wake up and I thought that’s what was beautiful. A lot of times in this business I think a lot of stars have yay-sayers around them constantly. They surround themselves with people who just say yes, which is disconcerting. So I think finally for her to stand up and say, ‘No, you’re not who you think you are’ that was powerful for him. That connection was a surprise for both of them and that was what was really fun.
Rock of Ages is out in theaters everywhere June 15.