Rock Star is a 2001 movie starring Mark Wahlberg and directed by Stephen Herek. The film also stars Jennifer Aniston. It was shot almost entirely in and around Los Angeles, but takes place in Pittsburgh.
Rock Star depicts, approximately, the life of an ’80s heavy metal band, with the highs and lows of fame, drugs, rock and roll, and groupies. The band depicted in the movie, Steel Dragon, is fictional.
Rock Star was inspired by the real-life story of Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens, singer in a Judas Priest tribute band who was chosen to replace singer Rob Halford when he left the band. The original title of the movie was to be Metal God, similar to signature Judas Priest song “Metal Gods”.
Rock Star was the executive producer debut of George Clooney, Wahlberg’s co-star from Three Kings and The Perfect Storm.
The band members are portrayed by ex-Dokken current Foreigner bassist Jeff Pilson, Black Label Society and Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Zakk Wylde (Zakk’s rhythm guitarist Nick Catanese plays the lead guitarist in Chris’ tribute band Blood Pollution), actor and guitarist Dominic West, and ex-Foreigner drummer and son of Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham, Jason Bonham. Myles Kennedy of Alter Bridge makes an appearance as ‘Thor’ in the movie. Also, the singing voice for Mark Wahlberg’s character was Steelheart frontman Miljenko Matijevic. Jeff Scott Soto (of Talisman, Yngwie Malmsteen, Soul Sirkus, Journey) provided the voice of the fictional band’s original singer whom Wahlberg’s character replaces.
The band Blood Pollution is also comprised of known musical artists, including the aforementioned guitarist Nick Catanese (Black Label Society), drummer Blas Elias (Slaughter), and bassist Brian Vander Ark, (The Verve Pipe, who also contributed a song to the film’s soundtrack). The only member of the two main bands who is not an established musician is Blood Pollution’s guitarist Timothy Olyphant.
Rock Star Plot
Rock Star tells the story of Chris Cole (Wahlberg) and a rock band called Steel Dragon. Cole is a photocopier technician by day, and the lead singer of a Steel Dragon tribute band called “Blood Pollution” by night.
Internal struggles between the Steel Dragon band members culminate with the firing of the lead singer, Bobby Beers (Jason Flemyng) and the starting of recruitment sessions to find a new vocalist. Chris experiences his own internal strife with his bandmates, particularly guitarist Rob Malcolm (Timothy Olyphant) and is fired from Blood Pollution. He is given an audition with Steel Dragon (thanks to two of Blood Pollution’s groupies who had a tape of one of their concerts) and joins them as their new singer, adopting the stage name “Izzy.”
Following a successful debut concert with Steel Dragon where the band’s long time fans seem to accept him, Izzy has to come to grips with the pressures of his newfound fame and success. The band embarks on a lengthy tour and Izzy experiences the excesses of the lifestyle. His new lifestyle impacts his life both for better and worse, particularly with his relationship with his supportive girlfriend, Emily (Jennifer Aniston). The group’s band manager Mats (Timothy Spall) serves as a sympathetic mentor to Izzy.
After a conversation with Mats, Izzy begins to reconsider his rock star lifestyle. In a scene directly paralleling one near the beginning of the film with their roles reversed, Izzy hears a fan (portrayed by Myles Kennedy) singing along with him toward the end of a live concert. Impressed, Izzy pulls him onstage, and hands him the microphone to finish out the concert. Backstage, Izzy realizes that what he wanted for so long wasn’t what he thought, and he goes to the back room and says goodbye to Mats, departing from the band while doing so.
Izzy (now Chris Cole again) makes his way to Seattle and starts a new coffee-house rock band. (An allusion to the end of 1980s hair metal and the beginnings of the grunge rock movement) He finds Emily working in the coffee shop she and her roommate purchased a few months earlier, but is initially too ashamed to meet her. While walking one evening, Emily sees a flyer for his band posted on the wall and takes it down. In the final scene, Chris is singing with his band in a bar and Emily walks in. Chris leaves the stage and meets her. They reconcile, ending the film with a kiss.