In the film adaptation of the hit Broadway show “Rock of Ages,” Mexican actor and singer Diego Boneta plays Drew Boley, a busboy in the 80s who dreams of becoming a rock star like his idol Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise). During an interview with me, Boneta, 21, talked about the inspiration behind his character and what was so cool about the 80s.
Did you like musicals growing up?
I’ve always been a big fan of musicals. I’m a fan of “Phantom of the Opera.” To this day, that is still my favorite musical of all time. But I also love “The Lion King,” “Billy Elliot,” and “Rock of Ages.” I also can’t wait to see “Book of Mormon.”
Would you imagine you were the Phantom when you were a little kid?
Yes, and it’s still a dream of mine to star in “Phantom of the Opera.” I love “Music of the Night.” That’s one of my favorite songs of all time.
This is a movie about 80s glam rock, but you weren’t even born in the 80s.
People have been asking me, “Dude, you were born in 1990. How do you know all these songs?” But these are the songs my parents would listen to. It’s like people in the 80s who listen to songs from the 60s. They’re timeless songs.
What did you have to do to become an 80s rock star?
I had to go to a six-week rock star college, which consisted of vocal and choreography lessons. I also had to learn how to play guitar. During the vocal lessons I had to learn how to sing with a rocker voice without hurting my vocal chords. I also had to develop a higher vocal range because all these songs are so high and so hard to sing.
How much attitude goes into this kind of musical performance?
It’s about attitude, but it’s mostly about heart. All the tattoos and piercings are just icing on the cake. The core of the rock star comes from the heart.
Tom Cruise really gets the look and attitude down.
He is fearless. He’s a movie star. He’s a rock star. He’s the hardest working guy I’ve ever met. What he brought was hours and hours of preparation and studying and research. He really became Stacee Jaxx.
Will it be more gratifying for you if people like the movie more or the soundtrack more or do they go hand in hand?
They go hand in hand. We tell this story through these songs. The story couldn’t live without them.
Besides the music, what do you think makes the 80s a memorable decade?
People came away with freedom and passion in the 80s. It was all about being yourself and not caring about what other people thought. I think people always want to go back to that because it’s really refreshing.
How do you think the film adaptation will enhance what the Broadway show has already done?
The Broadway version is amazing. It’s very interactive. That’s something really hard to do in a movie. I think [director] Adam Shankman and [co-writer] Justin Therox really gave the film a lot of humor. The premise is the same, but there are changes and new characters.
What real life rock stars inspired your character?
Mick Jagger, Steve Perry, and a little bit of Jim Morrison’s look.
Is starring in a film like this where you saw your career going?
Did I think I was going to be working in my first movie with Tom Cruise and Alec Baldwin and Catherine Zeta Jones? Hell no, but it’s a dream come true.