Malin Akerman was named one of Variety’s “10 Actors to Watch” in 2007, and the Swedish-Canadian actress has since become known for her sharp comedic timing and cover-girl good looks, while also wowing audiences with her touching dramatic performances. She recently wrapped production on Simon West’s actioner “Stolen,” starring alongside Nicholas Cage and Danny Huston. In Adam Shankman’s new musical, “Rock of Ages,” Akerman plays hard-hitting journalist and Rolling Stone reporter, Constance Sack, who comes to The Bourbon to interview Stacee Jaxx, who is on the road to becoming a washed-up rock star.
At the press day for “Rock of Ages,” MoviesOnline sat down at a roundtable interview with Akerman to talk about bringing the smash hit Broadway musical to life on the big screen. She told us what it was like working with director Adam Shankman and choreographer Mia Michaels, playing opposite Tom Cruise while frolicking in her skivvies, and why she was speechless when she met Steven Spielberg. She also discussed her upcoming movie about CBGB in which she plays Debbie Harry, what Blondie songs she plans to sing, and what it was like to be in a rock band in real life.
Q: What would you say is most celebrated from the ’80’s in this movie and what should never be brought back from the ’80’s in a movie or elsewhere?
MA: I think we can leave mullets back in the ’80’s. Don’t you? I’m really not a big fan of them. I did like the permed hair that I had in it. That was great, and I think that we should always have ’80’s music, forever and ever and ever. I’m a big fan.
Q: What about the ear licking?
MA: I’m a big fan of that, too, yeah, apparently. Me and my character.
Q: Was it hard to keep a straight face doing that?
MA: Yes. We had a lot of rehearsals, obviously, to choreograph this whole thing and that was not in the script, by the way, the ear licking thing. That was in the choreography while we were trying to figure out what we were going to do. I’m such a big fan of physical comedy. I’m totally game. I love that kind of stuff. Tom [Cruise] was totally game. It was just kind of like if it made us laugh, like, “Okay, if this is making us laugh, it’s got to make the audience laugh, too. It’s got to be fun.” So, it was just about pushing the limit as far as you can go for a PG-13 film and just having fun with it and making it sexy and funny but grounded. So, I loved it. I thought that was a really good moment.
Q: What about when he sang to your butt?
MA: Oh, that was normal. My husband does that every morning. No. That was amazing. I don’t think that we got through one rehearsal with a straight face when he did that. Every single time we would crack up. It’s just ridiculous in the best way possible.
Q: How closed was the set for that scene?
MA: Very closed. I wasn’t about to be frolicking in my skivvies with, like, fifty gaffers around, God bless them. They’re amazing. I love them, but you know, I’m in compromising positions. They’re always so respectful with that kind of thing. They always close the set down, but of course everyone is over at the monitors watching. But they make it as comfortable as possible.
Q: Which of your fashion choices in the film, for the ’80’s, did you think were the best for your character?
MA: I think I would wear what she wore in the scene where she gets her face licked.
Q: I wasn’t paying attention to what she was wearing then.
MA: Yeah. I don’t think many people were, but I love the black, the tassels and the leather, obviously. I’m still wearing that. I haven’t let go of that. I love all things leather, and so I love that from her outfits as well. But I don’t know if I would necessarily do the Mozart top, the button down, the ‘Hot For Teacher’ kind of look. That’s not really my thing. I would let that one go.
Q: What about the curly hair, was that you?
MA: The curly hair was a wig, but would I do that? Totally, but I think that people would think that I was really stuck in the ’80’s then.
Q: What’s the weirdest interview experience you’ve had with a journalist?
MA: There were a few weird ones while we were doing “Watchmen.” We were in Europe somewhere and one guy came in dressed in a mask, in a superhero costume, his own one, like made up. It was like a dirty sock with holes in it and he’d painted something on it and he was like, “I am –.” I can’t remember the name of what his superhero was. I was like, “Okay.” He goes, “Why are all superheroes only American?” I said, “I don’t know, are they?” He came in and was so everything anti-American and then he took off his mask and went, “Ah, it’s not working. Never mind, never mind,” and he got up and left. I was like, “Okay.” I didn’t even know what was working or wasn’t working because nothing was working for me. It was the weirdest thing ever. I don’t know what he wanted or what he was getting at, but obviously I wasn’t giving him what he wanted.
Q: Were those glasses that you wore in your introductory scene as a Rolling Stone reporter sort of an homage to something specific in the 80s?
MA: For me, not necessarily. I think there was that draw of doing the real kind of ‘Hot For Teacher’ and then the glasses come off and the hair comes down and it’s like, “Whoa, here’s this beautiful, kind of rocking chick.” So, it was trying to make her a little bit more nerdy so that we could have a bigger revelation at the end when she turns into a rock chick, but you can ask Adam [Shankman] because that was sort of his idea, that she was going to have glasses and the costume lady. So, it might’ve been something for him more than what I just said, but I’m not sure.
Q: Who had that Stacee Jaxx affect on you, a rock star or someone that you’ve gotten to meet?
MA: Oh my goodness. One of the first people that I met that did that to me was Steven Spielberg. I still get speechless when I think about it. He’s done so much in his life and he’s so brilliant, and I got to work with him, or work for him, for his company on “Heartbreak Kid,” which is one of the first films that I did out here. I was sitting in my chair on set and he came and sat beside me and I was eating soup. I’ll never forget because I was like, “I don’t know if I should continue eating my soup because I don’t know if I’ll spill it on myself or if it’s rude to talk with soup in your mouth.” The stupidest thing was that I was so concentrated on this soup that after a while no words were coming out of my mouth. He was like, “Alright, nice chatting with you, Malin. I’ll see you later.” I was like, “God. I didn’t say anything.” But I have walked by Mick Jagger at a party and I could smell his hair and that was awesome. That was really great.
Q: You’re doing Linda Lovelace. How physical are you going to be in that role?
MA: I don’t know what’s happening with that movie, to be honest with you. So, we’ll see. That’s been one of those that just hasn’t –
Q: Is that because of the other movie about her?
MA: No, that has nothing to do with it. It’s just one that’s not happening at the moment, unfortunately. The next one I’ll be doing is a movie about CBGB, playing Debbie Harry.
Q: Have you met her?
MA: I haven’t met her, no. I would love to. I met her drummer. I met Clem [Burke] and that was really amazing and he had a lot of stories about her so that was really cool. She’s apparently a really cool chick, which is no surprise.
Q: What’s the focus of that movie?
MA: The focus is really about CBGB and the beginnings of it, and the owner, Hilly, who created it. So, it’ll be about, I think, a four-year time span and it’ll sort of present all these different artists that came through and became something, a lot of them thanks to CBGB. Debbie Harry was of course a part of that crew.
Q: How gritty does that film get because this is kind of the fantasy version of that era and industry?
MA: I think this one will be a lot more gritty, for sure. This will be a little bit more reality as opposed to big dance numbers and things like that. This will be a little bit more documenting the real moments and the real bands and how they became who they are and what happened at CBGB. Also, the budget is a lot smaller. So, it’ll be a shorter shooting period.
Q: What Blondie songs are you going to sing?
MA: “X Offender” but not “Heart of Glass.” I guess that came along later, because this is in ’73/’74. So, it’s some of her first songs. I can’t remember the other one, and I don’t know if I’ll actually be singing them or just lip syncing, I hope. But again, that’s a budget thing. It costs a lot to record. We’ll see. I hope I get to sing it.
Q: You’ve been in a rock band yourself, right?
MA: I have, yeah.
Q: Was that a serious endeavor for you?
MA: Not really. I came out here to do the acting, and then after a year of auditions and not getting anything, I met these Italian guys and they asked me to write lyrics for them. Then they said, “Why don’t you just front the band?” I said, “Well, maybe because I can’t sing. I’ve never sang before in my life.” But we did and it was just sort of a fun thing, self-taught stuff kind of recorded and recorded in a closet and all that good stuff. We did that for a year and a half and it was so much fun, but nothing ever came of it.
Q: You never put anything out?
MA: We did. We recorded a CD. We did it all ourselves. We put it out. It’s on iTunes. We did this video with these student videographers from the New York Film Academy. We had a blast, and of course we were really trying to do it for real, but nothing ever came of it, and so I said, “Alright, I’m going to give acting one last shot. If it doesn’t work, I’m going back to Toronto.”
Q: You got some good life stuff that came from that though, right?
MA: It certainly did. I got my husband from it. He was my drummer, and it’s funny because a friend of mine gave me a book right when I started the band, or became a part of their band, and the book was titled “Don’t Sleep With Your Drummer.” Guess who I married? The drummer. You challenge me and I’ll do it. It’s horrible.
Q: Can you explain the appeal of the rocker because it sounds like you know what it is?
MA: Yes, I do. Ultimately, it’s so funny because you think you’re attracted to this bad boy, this guy who’s…rockers are freedom of speech. They do whatever they want, and ultimately you don’t really want that. You don’t want someone who’s out on a tour bus, sleeping around with different people, and doing whatever and getting wasted. I don’t really want that, but I like the image of just someone who will throw you around. I don’t know what it is, but this crazy, bad boy image. The funny thing is that my husband couldn’t be sweeter. He looks like this bad boy. He’s got tattoos and earrings and a Mohawk, but when you talk to him and when he’s around you, he’s such a gentleman. He holds doors for ladies. He pulls out chairs. He cooks. He cleans. He’s an Italian boy who grew up in the south of Italy with a family. His parents have been together for forty years and he takes such good care of his mom. So, it’s just beautiful, and so ultimately, I guess I don’t really want that. I like the image. I love watching him be real and visceral on stage. I love watching him drum. It’s so great and he’s such a talented drummer. I think anyone, when you watch them do what they do best is attractive. That was a long winded answer.
Q: Is he in a band right now?
MA: He is. He’s in two different bands that he plays with here, locally, in L.A., but mainly his focus here has been studio session work. He’s a musical director and so he develops new talent, which is great. I prefer him here rather than on a tour bus.
Q: Who’s he done sessions with?
MA: I don’t know if you’ll know any of the artists because they’re really new artists. There’s one band that he did some music for, that he drummed for called Carolina Liar, that he did two songs for, but mainly it’s new artists. The producers that he’s worked with are Eddie Kramer who produced Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix, some of my favorite musicians, and Jimmy Waldo who I can’t remember what he’s done. Those are the two producers that he tends to work with. Good peeps.
Q: Did you have time on this movie to break the ice with Tom, go to dinner or hangout or play ping-pong, because you have such intimate scenes in the film?
MA: Play ping-pong? I hear that is a new trend in New York, that there are ping-pong bars which is awesome. We knew each other from before because I had done a film with his wife, Katie [Holmes]. So, through that we’d gotten to know each other. We have done dinners together, and that was really nice. It’s always nice to know somebody, and I also knew Adam Shankman through Anne Fletcher who I’d worked with on “27 Dresses” and she’s one of his best friends. So, it was a very familiar set. Justin Theroux who was in “Wanderlust” co-wrote this. It was great because, especially like you said, if you have intimate scenes with someone you feel way more comfortable if you know the person, you know what they’re about, no funny business. Tom is the most respectful person that you’ll ever meet and that’s really important when you’re doing these kinds of scenes. He’s just so professional. He’s done it so long and there’s a reason why his career has been so long lived, because he’s just amazing. You really walk away from that experience a better actor. He’s so present when he’s acting with you that your job is easy. You just have to react and you’ll be doing a good job. It was amazing to work with him, especially after having followed his body of work throughout the years. It was incredible to work with someone who’s that talented. It’s great, and he’s really game. He’s got a great sense of humor and goes for it, which I love. Anyone who does physical comedy with me, I’m happy. It’s like two kids playing, like, “Oh, you’ll play that game with me? Great.”
Q: What did you guys invent together, something not in the script that maybe
Adam threw your way?
MA: The ear thing, yeah. That was all done together with the choreographer and Adam Shankman.
Q: What about the belt buckle with your teeth?
MA: I don’t remember where that came from, to be honest with you. I don’t know. It was so collaborative. The bulk of it was the choreographer and Adam and then there were those little things where, like, I don’t know if the tongue was sort of born from me, like I just got really close to his ear. I tend to do stupid things sometimes, but it was a lot of that. It felt like we were all doing it together as the choreography became a part of the characters. You just added little bits and pieces.
Q: You said that you kept cracking up in rehearsals. When did you finally get through a take?
MA: I didn’t. I mean, I did, I got through it, of course. Once you’re on set and you’re really in character and you’re playing the emotions that you’re playing, then you stop thinking about what you’re doing. It was the initial rehearsals where you’re going, “Oh my God, this is crazy,” and when you’re inventing new things and doing new moves. That’s when you’re laughing the hardest because you’re not really in character. You’re just trying to learn the moves, but once they call action, you’re in it and it’s like you transport yourself to a different place and then they call cut again and you go, “Oh, I’m in my underwear. How did that happen?” But yeah, it was fine once we were on set.
Q: Did you and Tom do your work together on the schedule, like three days in a row, and then you didn’t see anyone until later?
MA: Actually, we did all of that…[inaudible] I was literally in a corner on set somewhere. I wasn’t even there for the concert. I was there for three weeks total, and so all of my stuff that’s in the movie was done within three weeks. It felt like three week increments. Russell [Brand] and Alec [Baldwin] did their thing and then we just crossed over. Catherine [Zeta-Jones] came the day after I left. So, I didn’t get to meet her, because it’s such a big ensemble cast. Most of the work, we did all of it in those three weeks.
Q: Did you keep a souvenir from this movie?
MA: I did. I got the coolest souvenirs, by the way. Lita Ford came by set, which was awesome, and I have a leather jacket of hers. She lent some of her clothes to this movie, and then she said, “If anyone wants to buy them, I’ll sell them for a hundred bucks a piece.” I was like, “Yeah. I’ll take Lita Ford’s leather jacket for a hundred bucks.” It’s hand painted on the back. It’s so cool.
Q: Is it up on eBay now for sale?
MA: No. I’m going to keep that forever. I would buy that on eBay for a thousand dollars.
Q: You should wear it to the premiere.
MA: I should. I don’t know if it’ll go with my gown, but I’ll bring it.
“Rock of Ages” opens in theaters on June 15th.-