Mary J. Blige plays Justice in Rock of Ages. Justice works at a strip club and tells Julianne Hough‘s character to get on the pole. Mary worked with some skilled pole dancers and A-listers Alec Baldwin, Tom Cruise, Russell Brand and Catherine Zeta Jones on the project. She said that she had so much fun filming Rock of Ages it “was one of the best times in my life, in my career, really.”
Luckily for Mary fans, the talented singer has no plans of quitting acting any time soon. She already has a few projects currently lined up! At a Rock of Ages press event in West Hollywood, Mary spoke to me about what drew her to her character, Tom Cruise’s performance and what her stripper fans did for her when they recognized her at a real strip club.
POTP: It’s a great role, you being a mentor at a strip club. What did you think when you were asked if you could play a proprietor at a strip club?
Mary: Adam came to me and gave me the role. I read the script and when I was reading the script I said, ‘Let me see if this chick has some depth because if she doesn’t have any depth, I can’t do it.’ I had such a good time playing Justice because she was loose but strong. She had to be loose enough to run the strip club but she had to be strong enough to keep her ground and her power with those men [in the stip club].
POTP: How would you rate Tom Cruise’s transformation, you being a performer yourself, seeing him go from actor to rockstar?
Mary: WOW! A plus! It was weird to watch him because he came in on the very first day of the table reading dressed like Stacee Jaxx with all of his entourage. He was the only one in costume [laughs]. That’s why he’s Tom Cruise!
POTP: Do you have any plans to do more movies?
Mary: I want to do more, but I want to ease into it. I don’t want to carry any roles right now because it’s a lot. Acting’s a hard job.
POTP: How is the Nina Simone project?
Mary: I’m excited about getting a role for that, it’s still in the works. I have another movie we’re shooting in September for the Lifetime channel. It’s called Parallel Lives. It’s about the lives of Corretta Scott King and Betty Shabaz. It’s about their lives when their men were on the front lives and the script is freakin’ amazing!
POTP: Do you work with an acting coach at all? How did you prepare for this role? Did you talk to any people who worked in strip clubs?
Mary: Well I worked with an acting coach and I visited a couple strip clubs.
POTP: In the movie Julianne is covered and you don’t see anybody stripping, you see them dancing.
Mary: Well in the ’80s, back then all of the women were covered. Now in the strip clubs I went to it was like ‘WOAH, that’s a lot!’
POTP: Was that in Miami where you visited the clubs?
Mary: Miami, Sin City and New York.
POTP: Were you undercover? Did people recognize you?
Mary: No, I was Mary! I went with my husband and some guys and all of the girls knew it was me and they was just running NAKED! They sat down and they were crying. It was nice ya know but it was crazy. They’re just naked. It was fun.
POTP: When you showed up that first day, how did you feel?
Mary: I was nervous! We all had these mics, and when it was your part you had to speak into the mic [laughs]. I was so nervous! The script, I knew it but I was just nervous, so things were coming out wrong and they were all just doing great acting. It was nerve racking. * Luckily Mary nailed her performance.
Rock of Ages is in theaters now! I’ll be posting the second half of my interview next week.