Growing up in the 80s on California’s Sunset Strip, Adam Shankman’s first concert was at the legendary Roxy Theater in West Hollywood, an appropriate opening score to the soundtrack of his life. “This music was absolutely the wallpaper of my life,” Shankman shared, “I was a little rock baby.”
Paired with the inspiration from West Side Story, Cabaret, All That Jazz, Shankman has carved out a world of his own for film goers to enjoy. “In my head it’s fine that I can sing and dance when and wherever I feel like it,” Shankman said.
Whether you’re familiar with the director, producer and choreographer extraordinaire, you’re familiar with his world. Shankman has been instrumental to some of the most celebrated Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Glee episodes as well as A Walk to Remember starring Mandy Moore and the 2007 film Hairspray. Shankman is poised to enter that world again with Rock of Ages, a film adaptation of the 2006 Broadway musical by the same name.
From early on Shankman knew he wanted to be involved with Rock. “What totally blew my mind after I saw the play was how nuts the audience went for it and how intensely they responded to this kind of souvenir and nostalgic experience and appreciated it completely in this modern world,” Shankman explained.
The resurgence of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” thanks to Glee, shows that the music that serves as the backdrop to Rock has the power to draw in nostalgic older audiences as well as a whole new generation. “If you take away the pageantry of what it looked like back then and you just hear the music now, it ends up being much more substantial music than I think we ever thought it was going to be back then,” Shankman joked. Rock of Ages features sing along favorites from Bon Jovi, Guns N’ Roses, Def Leppard, Foreigner, Journey, Poison, and Twisted Sister.
The film follows Sherrie Christian, a “new-in-town” waitress played by Dancing with the Stars turned country singer Julianne Hough, and bar back and aspiring rocker, Drew Boley, played by Pretty Little Liars’ Diego Boneta, as they fall in love in the hair metal era of the 80s. Surprisingly Hough and Boneta were two of only three cast members who actually had to audition for their roles. The star-studded cast that includes the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul Mary J Blige, Catherine Zeta Jones, Alec Baldwin and Tom Cruise as 80’s rock god Stacee Jaxx, were hand-picked for their roles in the film.
It’s Tom Cruise who surprises in his turn as Stacee Jaxx. “There was no way of telling how good [Cruise] was going to be, “Shankman shared, “. . .talk about exceeding expectations. There’s a very big element of you can’t believe what you’re seeing.”
80s rock fans keep your eyes open because if you blink you might miss some of the cameos in Rock. Skid Row’s Sebastian Bach, Boston’s Nuno Benttencourt, REO Speedwagon’s Kevin Cronin, as well as Debbie Gibson and Idol’s Constantine Maroulis are just some of familiar faces who sought Rock out.
After rocking out, Shankman is looking forward to a small film to cleanse the filmmaking palate. This is Where I Leave You, a quiet dramedy about family, is rumored to be starring Jason Bateman, Malin Akerman, Zac Efron, and Goldie Hawn.
A self-proclaimed man of many dreams, Shankman is looking forward to finding a project where he “can blow shit up” but in the meantime, he’s also attached to the action/adventure/fantasy version of The Nutcracker, a Tim Burton-esque re-imagining of the holiday classic.