James Mottram chats with the Watchmen star Malin Akerman about her new film Rock of Ages, steamy scenes with Tom Cruise and carrying tunes.
Music or movies, Akerman seems to hit the right notes
"I wouldn't call myself a singer," says Malin Akerman. "But I sing." The Swedish-born starlet is being modest. Long before she wowed fanboys in Watchmen, when she first arrived in Los Angeles she was the lead singer of the alt-rock band The Petalstones. "I did the band thing for about a year and a half," she explains. "But sleeping on a couch in the studio with no money was not fun."
Fortunately for her, two good things came from her years as a rock chick. First, it gave her the chance to meet The Petalstones' drummer, Roberto Zincone, whom she married in 2007. And secondly, it prepped her for the new film Rock of Ages. Based on the hit musical, it's a 1980s tale of rock 'n' roll-excess set around The Bourbon Room, a fictional Sunset Strip club nestled in the heart of Hollywood.
"It's all these rock anthems I grew up with - Bon Jovi, Whitesnake and AC/DC," the 34-year-old enthuses. Already familiar with the stage version, "I took my family, including my sister to see it, when they were in New York a couple of years back, and everybody loved it," she says. "I just feel all age groups will appreciate it, whether you know the music or not." She smiles, as a sound bite comes to her: "It's Rock of Ages for all ages."
Akerman plays the bookish-looking Rolling Stone journalist Constance Sack, who arrives on the Strip to interview the wild frontman Stacee Jaxx (an irrepressible Tom Cruise), whom she describes as someone "on the road to becoming a washed-up rock star but who was a truly great rocker in his early days. She really believed in him, so she's frustrated that he's given up". When Constance stands up to Stacee, it "intrigues him, excites him and confuses him all at once."
Cue one of the sexiest duets in recent Hollywood history, as Cruise and Akerman sing Foreigner's classic I Want To Know What Love Is while their characters seduce each other in his dressing room. "It's a really hard life," says Akerman grinning, knowing she's probably the envy of every woman on the planet for getting to make sweet music with Cruise. So how did she get over that little scene? "A lot of therapy."
Evidently, their time together left Akerman impressed by Cruise. "It's incredible," she gushes. "He loves making movies. It's his life. It's what he lives for. You walk away from an experience with Tom, you have nothing bad to say about that man." Still, having just worked with both Nicolas Cage and John Cusack (in the forthcoming thrillers Stolen and The Numbers Station, respectively), she admits it's both intimidating and inspiring to work with such stars. "It forces you to bring your 'A' game."
The same might be said of her next role. She's set to play the Blondie singer Debbie Harry in CBGB, a look at the New York punk scene. So, between CBGB and Rock of Ages, is she still trying to tell us that she can't sing?
"Well, with a little bit of Auto-Tune," she winks, referring to the software producers use to beef up vocal performances. She's being modest again: there's very little off-key about this star.
* Rock of Ages opens in the UAE tomorrow