Film & TV

Tom Cruise Bared Chest, Conjured Steve Perry for Rock of Ages Filming

Tom Cruise fans were tickled pink while dressed all in black at the Hard Rock Casino yesterday during the six-hour filming of the final scene of his upcoming film, Rock of Ages. The rest of us nonfans were just working up the enthusiasm to cheer for a couch-hopper dressed sexily as rock 'n' roll hero Stacee Jaxx. 

Cruise and the fictitious band Arsenal joined Dancing With the Stars' Julianne Hough and Mexican actor and singer Diego Boneta onstage for a series of rowdy one-minute clips of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'." Cruise performed a solo clip of Bon Jovi's "Wanted Dead or Alive" sans shirt. Our job, as extras, was to cheer loudly and wave the sign of the horns at Maverick doing his music thang onstage. When you're doing something like this, it's always a relief when you don't recognize anyone else in the crowd.

Though the call for extras brought us to Sun Life Stadium, upon arrival, about 400 of us -- not too different from a weekday Marlins crowd -- were told to leave their phones in their cars, get on school buses, and be driven through the rain to Hollywood (Florida, of course). Because we had no phones, we have no pictures. Don't worry; it'll look better on the big screen.

In the theater, there were both paid extras and the rest of us. The paid extras were fed hot food and dressed in cool, totally rock 'n' roll '80s outfits with big hair; they even appeared to be sprayed with something that looked like asbestos to make them glow all white and stuff. The rest of us were given Rock of Ages T-shirts and sat in the bleacher seats eating dry snacks. We kid. It wasn't as bad as all that. It was more like we didn't look as good and were 10,000 times as excited as they were, and only a handful of us got prizes -- while they got paychecks.  

The crowd was, not surprisingly, mostly women with big hair. It was very diverse and included people of all ages over 16. We were herded behind the fancy extras and told to stand elbow-length apart. Some of us were a little confused about the decade, sporting Pink Floyd T's. Wardrobe came around checking to make sure we were all dressed appropriately in black, handing out cut-up T's to the noncompliant. A crew member came bearing lighters to wave at the stage and burn our little mitts. 

Director Adam Shankman warmed us up a little, while Hough and Boneta walked about the stage, waving and taking photos. Everyone looked relaxed and like they were having a good time. A voice ordered everyone off stage, and out came the man himself, Mr. Cruise. 

The audience lost its shit. He was wearing a cowboy hat and an open, sleeveless, buttoned-down shirt. His chest was exposed, ladies. The flames on the guitar screamed Hollywood metal, woo-woo! A clip of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" played about five times, and Hough and Boneta came out back to back dancing across the set. They were the stars of this scene. The crowd went wild. Immediately, girls jumped on the shoulders of their dude friends and bodies were bouncing. It was incredible how everyone got into the song so quickly. Tom Cruise is no Steve Perry, but he did all right. He sang his songs for the movie, and even though outside of his role in Magnolia he makes us cringe, we have to admit, his voice ain't so bad. 

During an extended break, the guys and gals of the crew kept us busy with snacks and giveaways. Watching the light guys haul a bazillion pounds of metal onto the stage was really neat (nerd stuff). 

The most engaging and entertaining part for us extras was when the music producer, Adam Anders, who also works on Glee, and music supervisor Matt Sullivan conducted us through a singalong. All us regular folk sounded quite lovely as we sang a few lines from Journey and Jon Bon. We had to sing along during the "Wanted Dead or Alive" takes, and cheers to us. We were good.  

The lights turned red for the Bon Jovi portion of the filming, and can we say, people looked better in the dim room. Is that mean? For about 45 minutes, we just stood around like the antsy concert crowd we were. The film's choreographer ran through Cruise's moves onstage, and the choreographer was one smooth dude. It was clear Tom would't be able to replicate this guy's fluidity; this guy is a real dancer. When a topless, inked Cruise came out onstage, he actually straightened up the choreography and made it look like a less corny version of a successful hair band's act. He had some sort of a face or devil or heart tattooed on his left breast and angel wings on his back. Let's hope those aren't real. 

It was funny: No matter where we found ourselves, it was next to the other two least enthusiastic crowd members. Guess you won't see us on film. Every time Cruise did something actorly, it was hard not to be a mean old cynical eye roller, but the truth is, he's good at what he does. After the scene wrapped, the natives were restless. The crew was luring us to stay in the hopes of winning two Fender guitars signed by the stars in a raffle. After being there for five hours, it was time to go. So we handed our raffle ticket over to a young lady and hit the road. A crew member said there'd be an outdoor scene, but the rain threatened to squash that. We'll just have to wait and see what happens when the film comes out next June. 

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Liz has her master’s degree in religion from Florida State University. She has since written for publications and outlets such as Miami New Times, Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, Ocean Drive, the Huffington Post, NBC Miami, Time Out Miami, Insomniac, the Daily Dot, and the Atlantic. Liz spent three years as New Times Broward-Palm Beach’s music editor, was the weekend news editor at Inverse, and is currently the managing editor at Tom Tom Magazine.
Contact: Liz Tracy