‘Rock Of Ages’: Behind The Star-Studded Cameos

Director Adam Shankman explains how '80s icons like Sebastian Bach and Debbie Gibson ended up in the movie musical.
By Amy Wilkinson

Julianne Hough and Diego Boneta in "Rock of Ages"

The '80s are alive and well in director Adam Shankman's movie musical "Rock of Ages," which shimmied into theaters Friday (June 15).

Based on the hit Broadway production of the same name, the flick follows would-be musician Drew Boley (Diego Boneta) as he falls for new-in-town Sherrie Christian (Julianne Hough) and lands his big break opening for rock legend Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise) at the famed Bourbon Room.

The soundtrack is stuffed with the era's biggest hits like "Every Rose Has Its Thorn," "Don't Stop Believin' " and "I Want to Know What Love Is," but the toe-tapping tunes aren't the only throwbacks to the decade of decadence. Pay close attention and you'll spot a number of '80s music mavens.

A major plotline in the film centers around conservative advocate Patricia Whitmore's (Catherine Zeta-Jones) attempt to shutter the Bourbon Room and reclaim the Sunset Strip for more wholesome pursuits. The struggle reaches its climax in a rocking protest outside the club with Patricia and company facing off against club employee Lonny (Russell Brand) while singing a mash-up of "We Built This City" and "We're Not Gonna Take It." It's here among the assembled masses that you'll recognize a few familiar faces, like Skid Row's Sebastian Bach and Debbie Gibson. But how did the cameos come to be?

"I had said if anyone from the period wants to participate, there is a scene I'm happy to accommodate, 'cause it just felt right. ... So the studio just kind of put out the word, and that's what happened," Shankman said. "I would get the phone call the day before going, 'This is who's coming tomorrow,' and I'm like, 'Seriously?!' "

Having a bevy of rock stars on a single set might sound like a nightmare of warring egos and AquaNet, but in fact, Shankman said the stars sang for their supper, staging an impromptu concert.

"The greatest part of having those guys — [REO Speedwagon's] Kevin Cronin, [Extreme's] Nuno Bettencourt and Sebastian — all of them, our lunch that night was at 3:30 in the morning, and during lunch for the whole crew, they did a whole concert, and they sang all the songs."

Now that's a scene we want to see on the DVD bonus reel!

Check out everything we've got on "Rock of Ages."

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