Tom Cruise played a fictional rock artist, Stacee Jaxx, in the 2012 film Rock of Ages. Like all his other films, Cruise showed immense dedication to this role as well and practiced singing five hours a day. The Magnolia actor deviated from his usual action-packed roles to take on this rock artist role. Director Adam Shankman took a huge risk casting Cruise in this unconventional role.
Shankman described Cruise’s role as a mashup of Axl Rose, Bret Michaels, Keith Richards, and Jim Morrison. Shankman had doubts about the Mission: Impossible actor’s singing abilities, but he was convinced once Cruise attended his first voice lesson for the film.
Tom Cruise’s Rock of Ages Role Was a Huge Risk
While Tom Cruise had always wanted to star in a musical, he was uncertain about whether he could pull it off. When approached for the role of Stacee Jaxx in Rock of Ages, Cruise made no grand promises to director Adam Shankman. During an interview with W Magazine, Cruise shared that Shankman had asked him if he could carry a tune before the film.
Although Cruise was unsure about his singing abilities, he embraced the challenge. Cruise told Shankman that his role could either work or turn up a disaster, a risk the director had to take. After the Jerry Maguire actor’s first voice lesson, Shankman affirmed that he had made the right choice. Shankman later stated that Cruise had a “fantastic voice”. The Top Gun actor shared with W Magazine:
“Adam Shankman, the director, asked me if I could carry a tune. I said, ‘We’ll see, won’t we? This is either going to work or it’s going to be dreadful.’”
Interestingly, Tom Cruise arranged to meet with the director after watching his movie Hairspray 15 times, a movie his daughter loved. Shankman took the Jack Reacher actor to see the Broadway musical, Rock of Ages, by Chris D’Arienzo. However, Cruise revealed that he didn’t draw inspiration for Stacee Jaxx from the play but rather reinvented the character on his own.
Tom Cruise’s Stacee Jaxx Was A Stand-Out Performance
Rock of Ages received mixed critical reviews when it was released, and unfortunately, the box office did not favor the movie. It ended up as a bomb, grossing just $59 million and failing to recoup its production budget of $75 million. However, critics showered praise upon Tom Cruise’s performance, particularly for his renditions of Pour Some Sugar on Me and Wanted Dead or Alive.
Critics drew parallels to his previous roles in films like Interview with the Vampire and Magnolia. Shankman later revealed that Warner Bros. wanted the movie to rely on the Minority Report actor’s star power, a move that might have set the wrong expectations among viewers. He also addressed that the timing of the release might have impacted the film’s box office. The film also failed to impress Chris D’Arienzo, the creator of the Broadway musical.
Rock of Ages is now available for streaming on Max.