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Actress knows what it’s like to sing your heart out

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Los ANGELES -- The rock 'n' roll movie musical Rock of Ages is the story of a couple of young people with big dreams who come to Los Angeles to realize their show biz ambitions.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 14/06/2012 (3828 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Los ANGELES — The rock ‘n’ roll movie musical Rock of Ages is the story of a couple of young people with big dreams who come to Los Angeles to realize their show biz ambitions.

Ironically, it’s Swedish-Canadian actress Malin Akerman who hews closest to the experience of the movie’s hero and heroine. It’s ironic because Akerman, 34, doesn’t play one of those musical neophytes. She plays a Rolling Stone reporter by the name of Constance Sack — double entendre is doubtless intended — sent to a tawdry Sunset Boulevard rock joint called The Bourbon for an interview with the film’s primary rock god, Stacee Jaxx, played by movie god Tom Cruise.

But Akerman did actually front a band called the Petalstones before the movie thing worked out.

David James Malin Akerman with Tom Cruise.

“It was back in 2002,” Akerman says. “It was sort of a self-made, self-taught, if-you-can’t-hit-the-note-scream-it kind of thing.”

In principle, that should have given Akerman some grounding in the role. The Stockholm-born, Toronto-raised actress has become a familiar face on movie screens owing to a series of roles in films as diverse as Watchmen, The Proposal and Couples Retreat. Akerman herself says the movie suited her, given the requirements of good acting ability and good singing ability.

“I have gone to auditions for other musicals, and not gotten called back,” she says. “So the fact that this was a rock musical — I was so excited because I kind of felt this was right up my alley.”

The singing part proved to be less important, she says.

“They were trying to figure out if they wanted a singer or they wanted an actress — and I think they went with the acting, because my singing was not that great in the audition,” she says matter-of-factly. “I know they made use of Auto-Tune and other fantastic toys.”

“I love singing music and have so much fun doing it,” she says. “But there’s a reason why we never got picked up for a record label. My fault for that. But now I’m really happy I got to do it in a film for the first time.”

Akerman’s key scene is a kind of musical seduction of Cruise to the Foreigner song I Want to Know What Love Is. It is simultaneously pretty sexy and pretty funny and features the spectacle of Akerman carrying the song while licking Cruise’s face.

“The part of me sticking my tongue into his ear and singing, that was all sort of made up while we were doing the choreography,” Akerman says. “Both Tom and I were totally game. And every time, we just kept cracking up and we thought, ‘If we’re laughing at this, I think the audience is going to dig it too.'”

Her character is a bit in awe upon meeting Stacee Jaxx and that dynamic played out earlier the first time Akerman met Cruise a year before Rock of Ages, while she and Cruise’s actress wife Katie Holmes worked on the indie film The Romantics.

David James Malin Akerman

“The very first day he walked onto our set, I was completely star-struck and I stumbled and didn’t know what to say,” she says. “But I met him and got to know him and had some dinners and whatnot. All that kind of disappeared at the point where we finally got to this movie and we were shooting,” she says. “When you’re working together and you just become certain characters, all of a sudden, you’re just two actors working together.”

Even so, Akerman says she valued the experience of working with the more seasoned Cruise.

“Anytime you get to work with an actor who is beyond you in experience and talent, I feel like they make you a better actor. You really bring up your game,” she says.

“I used to run track and field and the coach would always say, ‘Run with someone who’s faster than you while you’re practising so you run faster.’ And that’s what it feels like.”

Rock of Ages opens in theatres tomorrow.

randall.king@freepress.mb.ca

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Randall King

Randall King
Reporter

In a way, Randall King was born into the entertainment beat.

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