Julianne Hough came back to her old stomping grounds Thursday night for the premiere for Rock of Ages at Regal South Beach. The former Dancing With the Stars professional partner (she won Season 4 with Olympic skater Apolo Ohno) plays a bright-eyed Oklahoma hick who arrives in Hollywood, Calif., with big dreams of being a famous singer.
Actually Hough came to Miami, where the ’80s era hair-band movie — co-starring heavy hitters like Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Catherine Zeta Jones and Russell Brand — was shot.
In one of the first scenes, Hough steps off the bus and encounters a crowd of people, who are actually in front of Macy’s, off Lincoln Road. A few minutes later, she’s trying to get a job on the Sunset Strip at the fictional Bourbon Room, whose exteriors were shot in Wynwood and interiors at Revolution Live in Fort Lauderdale. Geographically attentive viewers will note other supposed Angeleno sites dotted throughout South Florida.
Spending so much time here made Hough, who turns 24 next month, feel like a local.
“It’s so great to be back,’’ said Hough, in a tight royal-blue leather dress. “I remember going to the movies and getting pomegranate margaritas across the street [at Rosa Mexicano]. Such great memories.’’
Director Adam Shankman was just glad to be inside an air-conditioned theater. The crew camped out in South Florida during our cruelest months, July and August.
“Ugh, I didn’t like the heat at all. It was like 110 degrees at night with 8,000 percent humidity. That was a little rough. All the actors had little blowers and I was in my chair covered in sweat. We may choose a drier place next time.’’
Shankman really is joking. He wouldn’t have had it any other way.
“Miami is amazing, are you kidding me? And the city really does look like L.A. That’s why I chose it.’’
The project was a personal favorite for the Hairspray director for another reason.
“I was a huge fan of ’80s music. I was in my early 20s then. That was a time in my life when I knew no responsibilities. I thought I was going to live forever.’’
Shankman’s responsibilities were to make sure all his talent knew how to belt out classics like Can’t Fight This Feeling, Jukebox Hero and I Love Rock n Roll. Yes, all the big stars carry a tune, some better than others; e.g., Baldwin, who plays the Bourbon Club owner, really wasn’t as off-pitch as you’d think.
“Everybody was a professional. They came in and realized they were doing a musical, which is not a normal [acting] job because you really have to rehearse,’’ Shankman said.
Speaking of which, how was the consummate pro, stuntman extraordinaire Cruise as Bret Michaels-esque rocker Stacee Jaxx?
“Oh, my god, for someone about to turn 50, what he can do. It’s amazing,’’ Hough said. “He is just incredible.’’