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