Why It's a Bad Idea to Cast Tom Cruise and Anne Hathaway in Rock of Ages

Right, I know: There's no way anyone can ruin Rock of Ages. After all, the Adam Shankman-directed film is based on the trashy, Tony-nominated musical (!) of the same name -- the only Broadway show where a person can walk down the aisle carrying four cans of Coors Light without drawing a second glance. (Not that I know anything about that particular example.) It's basically ruin-proof. Unless, of course, you decide to load up the supporting roles with some of the most famous stars in the world.

Hot on the heels of Tom Cruise agreeing to co-star in Rock of Ages as Stacie Jaxx, the flamboyant lead singer of Arsenal, Deadline reports that Anne Hathaway is in talks to portray a rock journalist in the film. This comes after news that Alec Baldwin and Russell Brand were circling the roles of Dennis and Lonnie, the two men in charge of The Bourbon, the Los Angeles rock club where most of the action in the film takes place. Those are four heavy-hitting actors, and four A-listers who I really enjoy seeing on the big screen. And yet, what in the Twisted Sister are they doing in Rock of Ages.

Let me explain: This is a musical that starred the sixth runner-up from American Idol; not to knock the Tony-nominated Constantine Maroulis (who, to be fair, is wonderful in Rock of Ages), but he's not really synonymous with the A-list. Or the B-list. Or any list. He's just Constantine, and he worked so well as the lead because it isn't hard to imagine the Brooklyn-born singer heading West with the hope of fronting a Def Leppard cover band. You wouldn't expect to see a guy like him rubbing elbows with an over-acting Tom Cruise. You wouldn't expect his character to either.

(Which brings up the question: Who will play the Constantine role in the movie? At this rate, why not just cast Chris Pine or Taylor Lautner and get it over with.)

The schlock Rock of Ages sells is a delicate balance of nostalgia, cheese, and meta-irony. It's like the musical version of air quotes -- Ages breaks the fourth wall so many times, audience members might as well consider themselves extras. It doesn't need air quotes around its air quotes. This is a genuinely silly musical -- nothing but a good time, as it were -- and the idea of Cruise and Hathaway spending the length of their screen-time trading winks and being even more silly than the material (which, be honest, you kind of have to assume they will be) is a bit like throwing a slice of pizza on top of a sundae. To put it another way: Rock of Ages is not a musical in desperate need of any more tongue in its cheek, and Cruise and Hathaway are all tongue.

Don't take my word for it though -- watch the Stacie Jaxx scene from the show, and just try and picture Tom Cruise doing it justice. Or "justice." Whatever. It's Friday.


  • Chicago48 says:

    The worst casting in the history of movies. How much money was passed under the table? And how much skin was shown?

  • HwoodHills says:

    With Cruise and Hathaway (if she does it) the lead role is one that could be used for an "unknown". As you've stated, the lead needs to be a fresh face we can route for. If you haven't seen ROA on stage, it's dynamic.
    Find some guy who can act and carry a tune and the work will be done.
    SUPERMAN worked because no one had baggage associated with Christopher Reeve. STAR WARS too because who the hell (in the general public) knew who Hamill, Fisher and Ford were?
    Two exceptions, maybe, but two pretty big ones.

  • KevyB says:

    I find nothing surprising here. Shankman tried desperately to derail Hairspray with John Travolta's horrendous performance. The lesser-knowns saved it, along with great turns by big stars Queen Latifah and Christopher Walken but if everyone isn't at the same level, the others stand out, here Travolta and Michelle Pfeiffer.
    I understand some names need to be attached to get the budget up and people into seats (it is a musical after all), but put those names in backup roles and let Broadway stars shine!

  • Kate says:

    A list, B list, C list... Who cares? At one time, unless they were born into show biz, they weren't on any list.
    After seeing Broadway Constantine, I would have a hard time with another actor taking his role. I think it was a known fact that had they cast another actor as Drew in the touring Rock of Ages show, there certainly wouldn't have been any sold out shows. I hope Shankman thinks out of the box and comes to the realization that Constantine is the draw that he is.

  • Sam says:

    I hope Tom Cruise doesn't ruin this movie.

  • jenna says:

    I think putting actors like Tom Cruise in this film is a real disconnect from fans of this show. I have seen live or in youtube clips of the Broadway Stacee, the Toronto Stacee and the tour Stacee. Any would be superior to Tom in the role and I think I would have to give the nod to the tour Stacee MiG Ayesa. Comparing their performances with youtube clips of Cruise singing in his other movie was enough for me. some of the big names they are tossing around seem a good fit like Mary J Blige but I don't see Alec Baldwin as a good fit for Dennis Dupree either. I think the film would do better with a well written script and people who are strong vocalists and dancers. Tom Cruise does not fit this role!

  • Watcher says:

    Anne Hathaway may be the current "it" girl, but she's a lousy actress and a lousy presenter.