Julianne Hough wasn’t born until 1988, a year after “Rock of Ages” takes place, but she seems the perfect choice to play the naive, hopeful Sherrie Christian in the movie, which opens today.
With her all-American looks and her sweet voice, Hough personifies the girl who arrives on a bus from the midwest and with a gee-whiz, can-do attitude chases her dreams along the Sunset Strip.
The movie, unlike the play, tells its story through Sherrie’s eyes as she experiences all of Hollywood’s excesses for the first time. Though Hough, who was introduced to audiences through “Dancing With the Stars,” has appeared in other movies, such as “Burlesque” and “Footloose,” “Rock Of Ages” was the first to pair her with such megastars as Tom Cruise, Mary J. Blige, Catherine Zeta Jones and Alec Baldwin.
Playing the ingenue who temporarily captures the attentions of Stacee Jaxx (played by Cruise) was a blast, Hough says, who jokes that she didn’t have to act when her character is starstruck by Jaxx. However, as much as she loved playing opposite Cruise, her favorite scenes took place in the strip club, and with her love interest, Drew, played by Diego Boneta. “We had so many fun scenes,” she says. “All the strip club stuff was fun. I really love the love montage we did because that was Drew and Sherrie falling in love. They were all these short little scenes and they were setting the tone of the movie. That was the most fun for me.”
Though she is an extraordinary dancer, Hough says she was in awe of the talents displayed by the “pole specialists” in the movie. “ They’ve got some ripped bodies, that’s for sure,” she says.
Hough also enjoyed developing a friendship with Blige, who plays the strip club proprietor who takes Sherrie under her wing. She was struck by Blige’s humility as the Grammy-winning singer continues, like Hough, to develop her acting skills. “She’s one of the most influential women in music and yet she doesn’t know it,” Hough says. “I’d be like, ‘That’s amazing!,” and she’d be like, ‘Really? You really thought that was okay? I’m not sure about it.’ The fact that she’s that humble and she’s who she is is just a testament how there are so many people in this world we put in pedestals and they’re just human beings, you know.”
With each new movie, Hough, who is also signed to Mercury Nashville as a recording artist, says her faith in her abilities grows. “I just keep getting more confident and more secure,” she says. “Also, because I learn so much from each movie and a lot of technical things: how a movie is made and the process, so I know how to use my stamina, you know what I mean, and be top energy all day long. That’s a hard part.”
Hough went straight from promoting “Rock of Ages” to filming “Safe Haven,” a romantic drama starring Josh Duhamel based on the Nicholas Sparks novel of the same name. It will be one of Hough’s first non-singing roles. She admits she’s nervous about not having singing and dancing to fall back on, but also excited. “I love having a challenge and I think that’s what makes me better as a performer, as an actress, or whatever I may be pursuing, but I think the most nerve wracking part is I’m literally having to leave the press tour of ‘Rock of Ages’ to start shooting right away. I’ve always had a lot of prep time for movies so... that will be a little different, but I love different. I get bored if I’m doing the same thing long.”