We sat down with Rock of Ages stars Julianne Hough and Diego Boneta as the two dish their rocking chemistry, the magnificent madness that is director Adam Shankman and what it meant to the two young actors that they now share a film with superstars Tom Cruise, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Alec Baldwin.
Both performers had different experiences seeing the Broadway musical that the film is based on, as dictated by the helmer of Rock of Ages. “I saw it after. Adam did not want me to see it before because there was going to be changes from the movie to the musical and he didn’t want me to be influenced by them,” Boneta said.
As soon as the film wrapped, the actor rushed to experience the theatrical version. “I flew up to New York and I watched the play as soon as I could. I was very impressed by what they did with adapting the play to the movie because it’s not an easy musical to adapt,” he said. “(Screenwriter) Justin Theroux did an amazing job with it.”
Hough, on the other hand, went to see it once she had the part, but hadn’t shot the film yet. “I was the most annoying person in the theater because I was like, ‘Oh, we changed this part’ and ‘Oh, that character isn’t even in it.’ My friends were like, ‘Julianne, shut up!'” Hough said and laughed.
Hough and Boneta play Sherrie and Drew, the central characters to the entire Rock of Ages story universe, who have a little romance. Both portray young adults landing in 1980s Los Angeles with rock star dreams. If their chemistry works, then the film works — something not lost on either performer. “It was really hard working with him. I’m just kidding,” Hough said, smiling.
“Diego was awesome. We got to know each other for six weeks prior because we were doing our little rock college thing. Then, we got to be the kids on set. We were there from the beginning to the very end of the shoot. We had that bond before we even started shooting.”
Boneta too felt the two bonded long before a camera started rolling. Something had them on the same page. “Julianne is an amazing, talented actress and we wanted to bring our A-game to this,” he said. It sounds as if the two gelled over their collective desire to not be the weak link in a star-studded cast. “We only have Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin and Catherine Zeta-Jones in the movie! We wanted to really deliver. She became my sister throughout that whole process.”
“A sister he makes out with,” Hough added and they both laughed.
Even though they were prepared, we wondered what they felt like walking onto the set to work with the biggest names in the business in Cruise, Jones and Baldwin. “It’s my first movie! At first, I was nervous. I was a bit intimidated,” Boneta said.
“But then when we met them, and seeing how passionate they were on set and how excited they were, it went from being intimidated to being motivated. Seeing Tom on set, he was treating this movie like it was his first and last movie.”
Hough shares many scenes with Cruise and Baldwin, but was disappointed she never met her idol on the set. “I didn’t get to do any scenes with Catherine Zeta-Jones! As a female actor, she is the epitome of a beautiful female movie star. I still get nervous around her. I saw her yesterday and I was nervous. She walked in in this gorgeous white suit and just exuded movie star. She wears movie star perfume. She’s gorgeous, beautiful on the inside and out.”
Another person that inspired Hough and Boneta on Rock of Ages was their director, a firecracker to say the least.
“He’s a goofball and I think that’s an understatement. He is like crazy, insane fun,” Hough said. “He’s so happy though and he really loves what he does. That just translates to his work and just to us. Everybody around him, every single day, has that kind of energy.”
Boneta was struck by how Shankman was a team player that wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. “There was a very fancy production office and Adam had a very fancy office. I don’t think he was there once. His office was at the choreography warehouse with no air conditioning with this plastic white table, a plastic chair and he was there every single day. That’s how involved he was. Every detail, he was in the trenches. When you have someone like that directing, you can see that on screen.”