Adam Shankman Keeps Rocking Steady
BY Jeremy Kinser
June 17 2012 2:54 PM ET
Speaking of setting the bar high, you directed Tom Cruise in his first film musical. How did this come about?
I told him Tropic Thunderwas his audition. It showed his level of commitment to a character. I was like now your stunts. The other thing was when he did that dance number with Jennifer Lopez on the MTV awards. I thought he dances and he can do comedy. I thought if he can sing, I’m in heaven. There’s no one who will bring a level of commitment to a character like Tom. We got a voice coach and I heard it and he had this amazing rock voice that he didn’t even know he had. We were freaking out, thinking this is going to work! But before that we talked about the character and decided the springboard is the lyrics to “Wanted Dead or Alive.” It’s this guy who is always surrounded by women, managers, monkeys, but in your head you see yourself as this lonely cowboy trudging through the desert and people are trying to steal your soul.
Tom is known for his commitment to roles. How easy was it for him to pick up the dance moves?
It wasn’t easy. He worked really hard and willed that into his body. He rehearsed more than anyone I’ve ever worked with in my entire life. He sang more and danced harder than everyone. He takes his job very seriously. He’s also an incredibly happy spirit on set by the way. He is nothing if not supportive. He was so good to Julianne and Diego and so supportive of them and in awe of their talents. He always wanted Diego to come over and practice guitar with him because they were both learning guitar for the movie.
Despite the androgynous appearance of many of the rock stars, heavy metal and hard rock doesn’t seem like an accepting place for gays. During your research did you find much of an LGBT presence in that scene?
In the music scene, I don’t know. There was a lot of questions about the Runaways with Lita Ford and Joan Jett. There wasn’t a big gay presence. Even Freddie Mercury wasn’t out back then. So there wasn’t a big LGBT presence but look at Adam Lambert, the world is just a different place now. Women in that world were just accessories. There weren’t even Yoko Onos in this world. It was a man’s world and men were run amok.
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