The three-time Oscar-winning actress sings and plays guitar in Ricki and the Flash, directed by Jonathan Demme (The Silence of the Lambs) from a screenplay by Diablo Cody (Juno).
TriStar Pictures has released the first look at Streep rockin’ out as Ricki in the movie. Check full, hi-res first look photo here below.
Ricki and the Flash see the 65-year-old Streep as the title character, an aging rocker who had chosen a music career over her family; unfortunately, she failed to become a huge rock star and instead became estranged from her children during her attempts to make it big. Now, she has the chance to make things right with her family.
The new photo of Streep sees the Into the Woods actress channeling Bonnie Raitt with a Fender Stratocaster, feather necklace, and partially braided long locks as she sings on stage into a microphone, with her drummer in the background. For her role as a talented musician, which will find her playing opposite real-life aging teen heartthrob rocker Rick Springfield as her bandmate, Streep learned to play guitar. Back in August, screenwriter Diablo Cody revealed that the movie had not started filming because the actress was going through a band boot camp because director Demme insisted that all the songs in the film be performed live. “Everything you hear, the band has to play and Meryl has to play,” Cody said, adding that while Rick is a classic rocker, she’s not above getting her Lady Gaga on.
While Streep makes her on-screen debut as a guitarist in the film, it won’t be her first time singing: The actress performed ABBA tunes in the 2008 film adaptation of the musical Mamma Mia, and more recently appeared in the big-screen version of Stephen Sondheim’s hit Broadway musical Into the Woods. (She’s up for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for the 2014 film.)
Starring alongside Streep is her real-life daughter, Mamie Gummer, who plays her divorced daughter who she tries to help, as well as her Sophie’s Choice co-star Kevin Kline as her ex-husband Pete; Sebastian Stan (Captain America: The Winter Soldier as her estranged son Joshua; the aforementioned “Jesse’s Girl” singer Rick Springfield, who’s Ricki’s bandmate who has a crush on her; and Ben Platt as Daniel, the bartender at the club Ricki and her band performs at regularly.
Also no stranger to music in film is Demme, who previously directed music videos as well as the 1984 Talking Heads documentary Stop Making Sense a recent trilogy of Neil Young concert films. The Philadelphia director began principal photography on Ricki on October 13, 2014, in Rye, New York.
Meanwhile, the 65-year-old Rick Springfield (who, I must say, still got it), who topped the charts in the 1980s with hits like “I’ve Done Everything for You”, “Don’t Talk to Strangers”, “Love Somebody,” and of course, “Jesse’s Girl,” has plenty of acting experience under his belt. He played Dr. Noah Drake on TV soap opera General Hospital during the height of his musical career and starred opposite Keith Richard’s wife, model Patti Hansen, as a rock star in 1984’s Hard To Hold. In 1995, he starred on Broadway in the Tony Award-nominated musical Smokey Joe’s Cafe (I totally went to see that and got him to sign my Playbill – old crushes die hard), and I can’t mention Rick Springfield without pointing out his connection to the world of scifi with his role as pilot Zac on TV’s original Battlestar Galactica. I’m not sure what watching him crush on Meryl Streep will do to me, especially if they somehow end up in a love scene where let’s say his pants come off. Please, Diablo Cody, you know what we want.
And on the subject of the 36-year-old Cody, who won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for 2007’s Juno, will undoubtedly bring a lot of flare and pop culture references to the dialogue for Ricki and the Flash. The Young Adult writer, who’s married to Chelsea Lately actor Dan Maurio, based the character Ricki on her mother-in-law, who fronts a New Jersey bar band.
An aging woman, Ricki, chases her dreams of becoming a famous rock star by abandoning her family. She gets a last chance to put things right when her ex-husband Pete (Kline) asks her to visit Chicago and help their estranged, divorced-daughter Julie (Gummer) through a difficult time.
Ricki and the Flash hits theaters on August 7, 2015.
Typically, on a film like this where an actor who’s not really a musician has to play a rock musician, I get turned off. But then I saw that GoD’s trusted movie reporter BAADASSSSS had it on his list of Most Anticipated Films of 2015. Add to it the script by Cody, direction by the incredibly talented Demme, and RICK SPRINGFIELD (!) and I’m totally looking forward to it now. I dig that Streep had to learn the guitar for the role, and I’m very curious how the musical performances will play out, since they’re supposedly recorded live (I wonder if that means live “live” or KISS! Alive kinda “live”). It doesn’t seem like Streep had all that much time to learn to master the instrument and as someone who been playing guitar since I was 12, I can say intense, lengthy practice sessions with bloodied fingers and aching back and sweat and tears (think Miles Teller in Whiplash) would be what’s necessary in this scenario. Although, Ricki might only be rocking 3 chords or 12-bar blues, in which case, a quick boot camp would suffice. I’ll have to wait til Summer to find out the outcome when I take my 89-year-old grandma to see her favorite actress in this film.