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ROCK OF AGES

Nothin' But A Good Time
Shankman's "Rock of Ages" is based on the Broadway smash, which earned five Tony Award nominations and is still entertaining audiences on the Great White Way as well as in touring productions around the world. The show's book was written by Chris D'Arienzo, who is also a writer and executive producer on the film.

The story, about pursuing your heart's desire, is backed by incredible songs and set on the iconic Sunset Strip, a place emblematic of the time, a place where fantasies could become reality, and did. Where a band from nowhere could perform at the Whiskey or The Roxy and wind up with a record deal.

Writer Justin Theroux enjoyed working on the screenplay for the jukebox musical, an opportunity he describes as "a totally different experience. In a weird way, you write backwards from the point of view of the song. The song is always the emotional center for the characters in any given scene, so it's fun to try to get them to that specific destination. The song does a lot of the emotional heavy lifting for you, but you have to build ramps up and down, to and from, that centerpiece."

Though most of the songs in the film are taken from the musical, Theroux was happy to add one that was a favorite of his growing up. "I thought 'Jukebox Hero' would be a great way to add more backstory to the character of Drew," he explains. "It has such great narrative in the opening lines and really paints the picture of a teenage kid who wants to be a rock star."

Writer Allan Loeb also took pleasure in fiddling around with the script's musical moments. "At times there are two songs playing off each other, going back and forth between the different storylines, with a lot of intercutting, to enable the song to serve more than one set of characters," he details. "So the challenge was to shuffle the story and the verses, while also allowing for the choreography, until everyone explodes into a mash-up of the songs' choruses. That's how they did it on stage and how we handled it in the screenplay, and it was great fun to write."

Says Shankman, "What's often the most difficult and compelling thing about a musical like 'Rock of Ages' is that half of a song is played as performance and the other half as dialogue or inner monologue. I think the writers did a great job of turning a terrific stage show into a real cinematic experience. I'd like to see the movie-going audiences jumping out of their seats just like the theater audience did, and I think this story and these characters and this rockin' music, performed by our unexpected and unbelievably talented cast, just might get them on their feet." "Waiting for a Girl Like You"

The opening scene of "Rock of Ages" follows a beautiful, if somewhat naïve, girl named Sherrie Christian, who has just hopped a bus from her small Midwestern hometown in pursuit of her Hollywood dream to be a singer. When she takes her first steps on the Sunset Strip, she thinks she's found paradise.

Julianne Hough was cast as the wide-eyed Sherrie, who lands at the epicenter of the rock 'n' roll scene. "She just wants to make something of herself, even if she's not going to be the biggest rock star in the world. She wants to be around it, the excitement and the energy of a city like that. It makes her feel alive."

Prior to casting Hough in "Rock of Ages," Shankman had an opportunity to direct her in a music video for her latest album. "Julianne blew my mind," he says. "She has an extraordinary rapport with the camera; her beauty and talent is right there in a really big way."

Arriving in town with hopes high, Sherrie immediately experiences a bit of a rude awakening. The disappointment doesn't last long, though, as she's rescued by a handsome young man, Drew Boley, who offers her what she needs more than anything in the world: a job.

Diego Boneta won the role of Drew after a nationwide search. "Drew is a barback at The Bourbon Room, a legendary club like the Whiskey, where all the bands play," says Boneta. "He's a rock star in his heart, and he's a good, honest, romantic guy."

"We saw thousands of people for Drew," Shankman relates. "Diego's audition tape came across my casting website, and after I watched it, I just had that feeling. I called Jennifer and said, 'I think I found the guy. I'm looking at him right now.'"

Gibgot recounts, "We brought Diego in, and the moment he walked through the door, Adam and I just looked at each other and said, 'That's Drew.'"

Being hardworking young performers on the rise themselves, it wasn't difficult for either Hough or Boneta to understand the hopes and dreams of their characters.

"Sherrie and Drew are both in L.A. for the same reasons, they have essentially the same goal in mind, so they click, they really connect," Boneta attests. "At first, they help each other out at work, but there's a definite attraction; things between them just grow from there." Hough agrees. "Drew and Sherrie are the couple that you root for," she says. "They're young and learning about life and being in a relationship, and excited for the future. It all seems perfect until they have…a big misunderstanding."

That misunderstanding is made even bigger by the fact that it comes in the form of one of music's biggest stars, Stacee Jaxx, the rock god that Drew wants to be and that every woman wants to bed. The lead singer of Arsenal, Stacee is at a turning point in his career, and in his life. He's about to go solo, and his final show with the band is at The Bourbon Room. It's a homecoming of sorts, as he played his first gig there back in the day. But fame and fortune may have come too easily to the front man who, after years of indulgence, has become boozed up and blasé to the point of bored, and less than reliable when it comes to showing up for his own shows.

The casting of Stacee Jaxx turned out to be somewhat serendipitous. "I was thinking to myself, 'Wouldn't it be cool if we got one of the biggest movie stars in the world to play one of the biggest rock stars in the world?'" Shankman reflects. "And, as luck would have it, I ran into Tom Cruise, told him I was directing this movie, that it was a musical, and that I was going to offer him this part. He said, 'Are you serious?' I said I was. Then I described Stacee to him and he laughed really hard. The next thing I knew, he was in, and I was making a musical with Tom Cruise."

To play the role, Cruise underwent a complete transformation, and Shankman admired his diligence. "From the moment he signed on, Tom started training his voice with an incredible vocal coach, Ron Anderson. I remember the first time we heard him sing. He's got this outrageous, four-octave range-turns out he has opera singers in his ancestry, so he's probably genetically predisposed to sing, but no one's ever asked him to before. I'm just the lucky recipient of this revelation, I suppose," he smiles.

With an entourage at his beck and call 24/7 and groupies professing their undying love for him at every turn, only one individual has the integrity to see Stacee Jaxx for who he really is: Rolling Stone reporter Constance Sack.

The hard-hitting journalist is played by Malin Akerman, who says, "Constance comes to The Bourbon to interview Stacee Jaxx, who is on the road to becoming a washed-up rock star but who was a truly great rocker in his early days. She really believed in him, so she's frustrated that he's given up. And he's clearly never met a woman who has stood up to him before, which intrigues him, excites him, and confuses him all at once. But when she tries to pull the truth out of him, things don't go quite as she'd planned." <

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