'Rock of Ages': Why Tom Cruise decided to let it all hang out

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Image Credit: David James

We’re now less than a month away from the release of Rock of Ages, the big-screen adaptation of the hit Broadway musical about rockers and wannabes on the Sunset Strip in 1987. The cast is impressive—Julianne Hough, Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand, Paul Giamatti, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Bryan Cranston, and Mary J. Blige all show up. But the one person you’ll be talking about when you see the movie is Tom Cruise, who as hair-metal superstar Stacee Jaxx not only belts out “Pour Some Sugar On Me” but also appears in perhaps the skimpiest outfits of his career. “I wasn’t going to ask him to go as far as he went,” says director Adam Shankman (Hairspray). “Tom is incredibly creative but he’s very literal. I put an enormous amount of research material in front of him about these hair bands. We had these pictures of the guy from W.A.S.P. in a codpiece with sparks coming out of it. And it just made Tom laugh. Rita Ryack, our costume designer, came to me and said, ‘Okay, he wants to do the assless chaps.’ I said, ‘Are we putting anything under them, like underwear?’ And she goes, ‘No, I think he’s fine with it just being what it is.’ I was like, ‘Okay, this is awesome.'”

But once on set, Shankman had to explain to his almost 50-year-old star that certain camera angles would get a little up close and personal. “I said to Tom, ‘You do know in the reverse that I will see your ass, right?'” Shankman recalls. “He said, ‘Well, is there any way to shoot around it?’ And I said ‘No.’ He said, ‘Well, let’s shoot it.’ Then he turned to me and goes, ‘Wait, how is it?’ And I said, ‘Fantastic!’ At an age when people are starting to play junior senators, he’s in a assless chaps.” And we’ll all never forget it.


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