IAR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Taryn Manning talks 'The Perfect Age of Rock 'n' Roll'

Friday, 05 August 2011 12:14 Written by  Jami Philbrick
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IAR EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Taryn Manning talks 'The Perfect Age of Rock 'n' Roll'

Actress Taryn Manning is clearly no stranger to starring in films with musical themes but she is also an accomplished singer-songwriter in her own right. The actress is best known for her roles in the Oscar winning hip-hop films 8 Mile and Hustle & Flow, as well as starring opposite Britney Spears in her film debut Crossroads. But Manning has also licensed her own music to movies like Mean Girls, The Hot Chick, and The Italian Job. Now the actress/musician returns with a new film that seems tailor-made for her unique talents entitled The Perfect Age of Rock ‘n’ Roll, which opens in theaters on August 5th.

Written and directed by Scott Rosenbaum, the film revolves around a group of childhood friends who reunite their former band and must come face to face with their own “rock ‘n’ roll demons” (sex, drugs & booze) while on a cross-country trip that compels them to face their past, present, and future. In addition to Manning, the film features an excellent cast of actors including Kevin Zegers (Fozen), Jason Ritter (W.), Lauren Holly (Dumb & Dumber), Lukas Haas (Brick), and living legend Peter Fonda (Easy Rider). I recently had a chance to speak with Taryn Manning about The Perfect Age of Rock ‘n’ Roll and we discussed the film; it’s themes, music’s infamous “27 Club,” the recent passing of Amy Winehouse, Manning’s musical lineage, and working with the great Peter Fonda. Here is what she had to say:

To begin with, your film deals with the infamous “27 Club,” the legendary rock n’ roll milestone that has prematurely taken the lives of many of the greatest musical artists of all-time including Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, and Kurt Cobain. I apologize for having to ask you this, but since it has to do with the plot of your film and it is so topical right now, what are your thoughts on the loss of Amy Winehouse and how that falls into the theme of your movie?

Taryn Manning: It's obviously been a topic all day, and it’s opened up a lot of opportunities, not that we're capitalizing on it at all because we did this film three years ago. This timing is just so bizarre. I was a huge Amy Winehouse fan, that's like right up my alley as far as music that I listen to. It's crazy you know? I mean obviously we all know she was troubled, I guess I just didn't see it coming. I guess I could see it happening, but I couldn't see it coming because she was just starting to get back out there. I saw that one Youtube video and I realized that she wasn't well and the next thing you know I woke up to that news and it's been very sad all day. They keep showing clips of her when I'm doing the news segments or a piece of her music and it's been heartbreaking. I've been holding back tears today because it's just constant. It is very uncanny how we've lost so many incredible artists at that age.

Do you think it's a coincidence that we’ve lost so many great musicians at the age of twenty-seven or do you think it might have something to do with the human body just not being able to take all the drugs, alcohol, loud music, fame and abuse that comes with the rock n' roll lifestyle?

Manning: I mean of course there's all that. I don't think it's a coincidence, I really don't. I honestly think there more like chosen ones in a way. I also have heard such things as your brain peaks at twenty-seven. I'm not exactly sure what that means, so maybe if you're using drugs that heavily, constantly and you're run down, I don't know if maybe it's your chemistry. I've just heard so many different theories today. Also, I have my own theories. I do think these are just the chosen ones and I that they're just going back home because they come here and they’ve serve their purpose. Most of them I think are troubled too, but I guess that's sort of what makes sometimes a brilliant artist is that sadness, that depth or even the drugs that enhance the writing. I don't know. I mean I'm a musician myself and I know that when my brother got sober he had a really hard time writing music after that and it's been a totally different situation since my brother got sober. So I have it within my own experience, I've seen somebody suffer trying to write after they became sober. So I don't know, I don't think anybody really has the answer. I even tried to look up some numerology stuff, like if there's some kind of something with the number twenty-seven, that's some sort of fate, I don't know. It's just crazy though, poor thing.

Can you talk about how that idea and those issues play in with the story of your film?

Manning: Well our film is called The Perfect Age of Rock N' Roll. It's clearly referring to that age and how we've lost so many greats at that age. I realize we've lost a lot of musicians at all different ages, but there's been an uncanny amount that we've lost at twenty-seven. It's not just Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin. If you go online you'll see so many people, even way before our time, that died at that age that were trail blazers in their day. We just lost a lot of people at that age.

What can you tell me about  your character Rose, the role she plays in the film and how she gets involved with Spider, Eric and the rest of the band members?

Manning: Well you know she's been a part of this band and the idea of the family for a long, long time. They broke up so the film is about them coming back together. She's had relations with both characters in this film. She’s their road manager and she really cares about their success. She's very close to them. I wanted to make sure that you saw this person had redeeming qualities. That she loves these boys and wants to see them win. She's in it with them, there's no ill intention except for success and love. She's dedicated, but she's human and she makes some mistakes along the way. It was really important to me when I took this role that I could work to find those redeeming qualities and make sure that Rose wasn't just like a total douchebag if you will. You see the regret and the guilt about the decision that she makes.

It’s interesting that you say that because in a lot of “rock n’ roll” movies the manager is often demonized and depicted as an evil person that is just out to exploit the band and steal their money. You can you talk about why you chose to play your role differently and against the common stereotype that we’ve seen so many times before?

Manning: I'm an artist. I had a manager on my acting side for ten years and I left him for three years but I just recently went back to him because I realized that this is hard. This is a hard road and when you have someone behind you that really believes in you, sticks by you and has that passion for so long, it’s an incredible thing. I only left him because I never tried anybody else. I went and I tried somebody else and I was like no, this isn’t right. I miss that passion. My manager believes in me more than I believe in myself sometimes so that's sort of what I wanted to get across with Rose.

I know that you are also a musician and that you come from a musical family, but I’ve noticed that there is an interesting musical theme running through the films that you have chosen to do. Obviously some of your movies like Hustle & Flow, and 8 Mile are musical films but you also appeared with Britney Spears in her film debut Crossroads. Can you talk about your passion for music and how you’ve been able to bridge your love for both acting and music into one career?

Manning: I did not set out for it to work this way. I just believe in my heart that people like Britney Spears, and Eminem; they had a hand in choosing me. I feel that through my essence and my spirit they related to me because I'm a musician through and through. Pretty much every movie I've done has had a song of mine organically end up in the film. It's not like I go up to the director and say, hey here's my CD! I'm just not that person. It's all been so organic and so natural and I’ve got to be honest, it trips me out too. I've done the only movie that Britney Spears has ever done, and I've worked with Ludacris on Hustle & Flow and the list just goes on. I've licensed songs to movies like Mean Girls, The Italian Job and The Hot Chick. I really believe that my careers are just intertwined and it's just my destiny and my passion. I can't really explain it because I never meant for it to happen, but I'm definitely enjoying it. It's pretty cool.

What can you tell me about director Scott Rosenbaum’s vision for the film and what he wanted to accomplish with this movie?

Manning: Scott had a very similar vibe to the director of Hustle and Flow. When I say that, they’re both directors that are very clear on their vision and that respect the art of filmmaking. We had two weeks of rehearsal, which you don't usually get. We had rehearsal and then we dissected our characters. We found the nuances and Scott was with us along the entire journey creating these characters. It was a genuine collaboration of artists. I just love very clear directors that know the movie they're making and he's that kind of guy. He’s very similar to a Craig Brewer. Scott has a lot of respect for the craft of filmmaking.

Finally, legendary actor Peter Fonda is also in this film, did you have a chance to work with him and what was that experience like for you?

Manning: Yeah, I have scenes with him. He's a hoot.

He IS rock n' roll, isn’t he?

Manning: That's straight up rock n' roll I agree. Just like in all the stories he told us, that were really, really cool I have to admit. I do have scenes with him in it. I think one of my best scenes is with him so it was great! We got along really well.

Did he take you on a ride on his chopper?

Manning: No, but he was so funny driving that RV we were in. He's an interesting guy with a lot of interesting stories, I’m sure you can imagine.

The Perfect Age of Rock ‘n’ Roll begins rocking in theaters today!

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