24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Adam Shankman

CinemaCon: Tom Cruise bares 'fantastic' backside in 'Rock of Ages'

April 25, 2012 | 11:13 am

Rock-ages-thumb-66472
With "Rock of Ages," Tom Cruise is aiming to show audiences a different side of himself. Literally.

In the first scene of the upcoming musical, the actor will reveal his backside, says director Adam Shankman. Cruise's buttocks have made on-screen appearances before, in "Far and Away," "Jerry Maguire" and "Eyes Wide Shut." But at 49, he's still not ashamed of showing off a little skin, said Shankman.

"We were filming a scene and I told him, ''You do know when I come around, I'm gonna see your [butt]?'" the filmmaker recalled this week in Las Vegas, where he was on hand at the CinemaCon theater owners convention to promote the June release. "And he's like, 'Is there any way to shoot around it?' And I said, 'No.' And he said, 'How is it?' And I said, 'It's fantastic.' And he said, 'OK, well then let's shoot it.'"

In "Rock of Ages," an Cruise plays Stacie Jaxx, an aging, out-of-control rocker whom Shankman describes as a mix of Axl Rose, Bret Michaels and Keith Richards. To prepare for the role, Cruise had lunch with Jon Bon Jovi, though the director says the actor wasn't able to garner much about bad-boy behavior from the "humble, down-to-earthy" singer of "Dead or Alive."

"It wasn't so much that there was a rock star I wanted him to emulate," said Shankman. "It was the fact that these guys lived in a world where no one said no to them, during a period where they were not conscious of things like AIDS. They were literally children run amok."

Shankman admitted he was initially hesitant to direct a jukebox musical, which is based on a popular 2006 Broadway musical. But after the filmmaker attended a performance of the show in New York City and saw how "every straight guy in the house knew the words to every song," he changed his tune.

He'd discussed working on a musical with Cruise before, and after the actor expressed how much he loved Shankman's 2007 take on "Hairspray" -- saying it was his daughter Suri's favorite movie -- the two decided to team up for "Rock of Ages." 

"I think it's a risk that we're both really excited about how it turned out," said Shankman. "When this opportunity came up, I thought, 'If he can pull this off, people will go crazy.' It's a real performance. It's an incredible show of talents no one ever thought he had."

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--Amy Kaufman in Las Vegas

twitter.com/AmyKinLA

Photo: Tom Cruise stars in "Rock of Ages." Credit: Warner Bros.


'Rock of Ages' director Adam Shankman: Constantine Maroulis wasn't right for the lead role

April 4, 2011 |  6:00 pm

Maroul
Adam Shankman decided a few days ago to bring on Diego Gonzalez Boneta, a Mexican actor on teen-friendly shows such as  "90210" and "Pretty Little Liars" -- and also an accomplished singer -- for the lead role of Drew in his filmic version of "Rock of Ages."

That disappointed fans of Constantine Maroulis, who scored a Tony nomination for his portrayal of the aspiring singer on Broadway and recently came with the production to the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles. Shankman said he understood why fans felt strongly but didn't believe Maroulis suited his movie's needs.

"Constantine was perfection as Drew in the play," Shankman told 24 Frames. "But the truth of the matter is that I cast at age, and I wanted someone who doesn't have to act 20 or 23 but actually is 20 or 23 [Maroulis is 35]. The authenticity of someone actually being that age is important."

Diego Shankman said that he understood fans' attachment to the former "American Idol" contestant but believes others can and should be given a chance at the role. "It would be like saying Ethel Merman is the only one who could play Mama Rose. This is a great example of a torch being passed."

The filmmaker said he had reached out to Maroulis to see if he would be interested in a smaller part in the movie. Asked about Maroulis' reaction to the news that he wouldn't be playing Drew, Shankman said, "I can't put myself in anyone's shoes. I can't imagine how difficult it must be to hand over a role."

As for the man who did land it, the 20-year-old Boneta came out of nowhere, literally. He was one of about a thousand young actors whose name popped up in online auditions. But Shankman said he immediately felt drawn to the actor and singer, who's also recorded several hits in Spanish.

"The 'It' factor was impossible to deny," Shankman said. "Diego sang the ['Rock of Ages'] songs effortlessly, and they were written so high, for freaks of nature. But he handled them so easily. Everything about him was at ease. He was charming and innocent and guileless. He's a very handsome kid who seems to have no awareness of what he looks like."

Shankman said the move from the theater to the screen won't compromise the essential emotional ingredient of the story, in which, against the backdrop of the 1980s and the development of the Sunset Strip, aspiring rocker Drew and struggling actress Sherrie fall in love. "If you look at 'Avatar' or even 'Titanic,' " he said citing two cinematic blockbusters, "what's at the core of it is a little love story about people who are destined to be together and fate rips them apart. And that's right at the center of this."
 
While Shankman has been pestered by plenty of actors deluded about their own musical talents -- "you have no idea" -- he says his biggest name for the film, Tom Cruise, is a perfect fit.

The director said he, too, was skeptical until he saw the actor in "Tropic Thunder." "It was just the courage he showed as Les Grossman and how far he could go, and with this role [of veteran rocker Stacee Jaxx] the more out there the better," Shankman said. "Tom is so committed to the work; he would never expose himself if he didn't think he could do it. And he's from singing stock -- his grandfather and great-grandfather were opera singers."

The "Rock of Ages" cast -- which also includes Alec Baldwin, Mary J. Blige and, schedule-permitting, Russell Brand -- offers plenty of star power. But Shankman, who previously directed "Hairspray," believes there's a trove of musical talent here too. "You need to cast up in order to get movies of this size greenlit; we never could have made this movie with lesser-known people," the director said. "But I also think audiences are going to be stunned when they see it."

And yes, that stunning musical talent even includes Baldwin. "Alec sang on 'Saturday Night Live,' which was a joke, sure. But this guy can more than carry a tune."

--Steven Zeitchik

twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photos: Constantine Maroulis as Drew on the Pantages stage. Credit: Chelsea Lauren / Getty Images; Diego Boneta as Javier Luna on "90210." Credit: CBS Television


'Going the Distance' director: Drew and Justin's real-life romance made working with them easier

August 24, 2010 |  2:30 pm

Many directors would be wary of working with two actors who have been involved in a longtime on-again, off-again romantic relationship — not Nanette Burstein. The filmmaker, who directed Drew Barrymore and Justin Long in the upcoming romantic comedy "Going the Distance," said the pair's history made working with them "easier."

"They were just so happy together, and they had this chemistry that you can’t create," Burstein said at the movie's premiere at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood on Monday night. "Plus, they had the intimacy, too, to draw on. Sometimes you get couples that fall in love in the middle of making a movie, but they don’t have that history together to draw on. And here you had both."

In recent years, Burstein has gained notice for her work as a documentarian. In 2002, she made "The Kid Stays in the Picture," which centered around producer and former Paramount studio head Robert Evans. Six years later, she took home the best director prize at Sundance for her work on "American Teen," which followed high school seniors in Indiana. 

But after working on documentaries for the last 15 years, she was ready to try her hand in the fiction world. The script for "Going the Distance" — which landed a coveted spot on the Hollywood Black List in 2008 — spoke to her because of its focus on a unique kind of a relationship.

"I related to the subject matter. I’ve had long distance relationships before. And I realized, 'Huh, there’s really never been a movie about this extremely relatable topic,'" she said. "And I love the humor and I love the sincerity of it. So I just wanted to make a Hollywood movie with the same sort of tone that I loved about some of the documentaries I’ve made."

But she didn't leave all of her documentary filmmaking skills behind during production on "Going the Distance." During one scene, in which Barrymore and Long's characters connect on a long first date, Burstein opted to shoot at the bar she co-owns in Manhattan's Chelsea district called The Half-King. She only used a "couple of small HD cameras" and all-natural light.

"I shot it like a documentary," she smiled.

For more from the "Going the Distance" red carpet, including interviews with Barrymore and Long, check out full coverage on our sister blog Ministry of Gossip.

— Amy Kaufman

Twitter.com/AmyKinLA

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Adam Shankman won't sing on new musical, but will he make his way to the Emerald City?

April 28, 2010 |  6:04 pm

EXCLUSIVE:  Disney's  Wizard of Oz prequel "The Great Powerful" is turning into a hot directing gig in Hollywood -- so hot that "Hairspray" director and Oscars producer Adam Shankman has taken the bold step of removing himself from another Disney project as he aims to land the job.

Shank Shankman had attached himself to direct "Bob the Musical" -- a musical about a man who, after being struck on the head, hears melodious versions of others' thoughts -- at the end of 2008, right as Disney was bringing out his children's fairy tale  "Bedtime Stories." But Shankman has now stepped aside from "Bob" in an effort to show Disney where his heart lies.

Shankman will still have to sell Disney executives Rich Ross and Sean Bailey, as well as producer Joe Roth, on his take on the story of the Wizard before he came to Oz, a broad adventure story that will be shot in 3-D. And he will need to outmaneuver his main rival, Sam Mendes, for the gig. The winner could almost become the answer to a high-concept parlor game:  Is it better to imagine the Wizard of Oz by way of "American Beauty" or by way of "Hairspray"?

Shankman's move throws into question the future of "Bob," which already wasn't considered an especially high priority with the current Disney regime. It does speaks to how much of a priority "Powerful" is at Disney, with directors angling to land one of the few big gigs currently available.

It also offers a clue as to the professional intentions of Shankman, a choreographer earlier in his career who has remade himself as a versatile director and producer, particularly on musicals. In February, Shankman told my colleague Amy Kaufman that he feels he has graduated beyond some of his earlier work. "I’m being picky," he said. "I want to do something more adult than kids and animals, something with a more sophisticated sense of humor." The wizard awaits -- for one man, anyway.

--Steven Zeitchik

(Follow me on Twitter.)

Photo: Adam Shankman. Credit: Jason Merritt / Getty Images


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Adam Shankman's (conflicted) Oscar Twitter thoughts

March 10, 2010 |  6:59 pm

Shankman Throughout awards season, this year's Oscars co-producer Adam Shankman kept his nearly 55,000 Twitter followers amused by sharing behind-the-scenes tidbits about working on the telecast, making up with enthusiasm what he lacked in punctuation and spelling.

It began in December: "Had dinner last night with Oscar cohosts steve martin and Alec Baldwin. Laughed so hard I almost passed out. This is gonna b goooood..."

The remark was followed by a number of other show-related Tweets. In many he queried his fans about whom they would most like to see appear on the Oscars. Some responded with tween favorites like Zac Efron and Miley Cyrus, both of whom ended up presenting awards at this year's ceremony.

So it's no surprise that, post-Oscars, Shankman has taken to his Twitter account to take on those -- like the Times' own Mary McNamara -- who criticized the show's pace, montage omissions, and dancing sections.

"did the best i could last night with so many perameters," he tweeted on Monday. "just so everyone knows the horror tribute was linked 2 roger cormans govs oscar."

Earlier today, he took to his page again with a more positive message, thanking a slew of people, including hosts Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin, co-producer Bill Mechanic, and set designer David Rockwell.

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