Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning star as Joan Jett and Cherie Currie in The Runaways, the music-fueled, coming of age story of the groundbreaking, all girl 1970s rock band. Written and directed by Floria Sigismondi, Apparition will release the film on March 19, 2010.
Los Angeles 1975, Joan Jett (KRISTEN STEWART) and Cherie Currie (DAKOTA FANNING), two teenage valley girls with punk in their blood, meet and become the heart and soul of the seminal all girl band, The Runaways. Floria Sigismondi brings The Runaways to the big screen in this story of a group of extraordinary young women as they rise from rebellious Southern California kids to rock stars of the now legendary band that paved the way for future generations of girl musicians. Under the Svengali-like influence of rock impresario Kim Fowley (MICHAEL SHANNON), the group evolves into an outrageous success and a family of misfits.
With its tough-chick image and raw talent, the band quickly earns a name for itself--and so do its two leads: Joan is the band's pure rock' n' roll heart, while Cherie, with her Bowie-Bardot looks, is the sex kitten.
The Runaways is produced by John Linson, Art Linson and Bill Pohlad. Joan Jett, Kenny Laguna and Brian Young serve as executive producers. The film marks the first theatrical collaboration between Apparition and River Road Entertainment.
At the core of The Runaways is the relationship between Joan Jett and Cherie Currie (Stewart and Fanning). A tumultuous, love-hate partnership on and off stage that bloomed over the course of the band's meteoric rise, their wild life on the road fueled by sex, drugs and booze and the eventual dissolution of The Runaways just three years and five albums later.
The Runaways is as much a coming of age story as it is the story of a band set against the backdrop of the colorful crowds at Rodney Bingenheimer's famed LA club English Disco where Jett and Currie met; the arduous and often abusive recording process which led to hits like "Cherry Bomb," and the Beatlemania-like reception upon their arrival in Japan.
Academy Award-nominee Michael Shannon plays the über-eccentric Kim Fowley who helps form The Runaways and serves as the band's foul-mouthed manager caught between manufacturing the girls' "jailbait" image and keeping the teenagers in line and out of trouble long enough to get them to the next gig or cut the next record.
Scout Taylor-Compton (Halloween, Love Ranch) and Stella Maeve (Gossip Girl, Brooklyn's Finest) play Runaways founding members Lita Ford and Sandy West, respectively. Alia Shawkat (Whip It, Arrested Development) plays "Robin," a fictional composite character representing the numerous personalities who've played bass for the band. Model and Elvis Presley's granddaughter, Riley Keough joins as Cherie Currie's twin sister Marie and Oscar winning- actress Tatum O'Neal rounds out the cast as Marie Harmon, Cherie's former actress mother.
Oscar-winning production designer Eugenio Caballero (Pan's Labyrinth) lends his remarkable talents to recreate the look of the mid-to-late 1970s --moving from the dreamy innocence of Southern California to the metallic, stark grey and white of Japan -- and a group of girls losing their way.
Noted music supervisor George Drakoulias (The Hangover) not only delves into a treasure trove of mid-seventies rock hits, but was instrumental during the process of re-recording tracks with Stewart and Fanning singing, to avoid as Stewart puts it, "coming off as frauds." John and Art Linson (Fight Club, FX's Sons of Anarchy) produced the film along with River Road CEO Bill Pohlad (Into the Wild, Brokeback Mountain). Executive producer and music legend, Joan Jett, was on set nearly every day to offer firsthand guidance on what it was like to have lived out this extraordinary story of a couple of young girls who dream to be rock stars, and then have to face all that comes with having that dream come true.
Summer 2009, Kristen Stewart transforms into a fiery red leather jumpsuit-wearing, guitar-strumming powerhouse. Immediately to her right, Dakota Fanning is now a glam rock star, wearing a tight corset and fishnets. The crowd goes wild as the band rips into the thunderous "Cherry Bomb," The Runaways' biggest hit.
The hyper-realistic moment is something far more than actors filming a scene: Fanning is really singing and Stewart is really playing as tears begin to fill the eyes of the real Cherie Currie and Joan Jett, who are watching their lives play out thirty years later. The fans are pretending to cheer for The Runaways but are sincerely star-struck at the site of Fanning and Stewart.
Raw truth and authenticity prevail as Floria Sigismondi directs the camera to capture the moment at every conceivable angle. For the characters it is the apex of their journey. For the young actors, it is near the end of an intense month-long shoot, where they have been challenged by the grittiest, and perhaps deepest, roles of their careers.
Sigismondi wasn't interested in making a biopic or celebrating the past. She saw The Runaways as a way to tell a story of empowerment where young girls come into their own and set out to make a place for themselves.
"It is a coming of age story of young women kind of getting in too far deep into, and kind of surviving, their time together," said Sigismondi. "They just get too far, lost in their circumstance. But it is not a documentary. I have taken liberties with trying to depict the truth through the events, and finding a story beyond what we know."
This story was four years in the making-- beginning with producer John Linson (Lords of Dogtown) who licensed the rights to Currie's book and set out to get this movie made. Growing up around the entertainment business and the music industry (his father is renowned producer Art Linson-- Fast Times at Ridgemont High, The Untouchables, Heat-- also a producer on The Runaways), John Linson was particularly versed on the toll fame can take, especially on youth.
He was at a party talking music and the name Cherie Currie came up. Cherie was someone Linson admits to "having a bit of a crush on" when he was a young kid reading the wild tales of The Runaways in "Creem" magazine. As the others conversed about the impact of The Runaways on music, Linson was struck with the idea of "making a movie about two young girls who go up against Hollywood." To do The Runaways justice, Linson knew this wasn't going to be some PG-13 sugarcoated version of the band that quells the racier parts of the story. "It wasn't as much to do a music film as much as a teenage girl powered drama that tells the truth of what life can be and not be in LA," Linson continues.
To make the movie they wanted to make, the Linsons needed the right backing from a production company that was unafraid to produce films that fly in the face of studio formulas and convention. They didn't have to look far to find River Road Entertainment, given Art Linson had just produced Sean Penn's acclaimed adaptation of Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild, based on the life Christopher McCandless and his extraordinary journey into the American West. For a company that has made a number of "true stories," River Road is not interested in simply recreating the past. The company aims to produce films that stand the test of time in the sense that they are more about the characters' progression and the broader meaning of their lives as much as the individual beats along the way.
The Linsons and River Road founder Bill Pohlad were in sync on the angle of The Runaways story. "It has to be about the people," said Pohlad. "It is about girls, and the ability even at that young age to try to find yourself and try to cut something out of life for yourself as opposed to just being part of a pattern or falling into one trap or another."
While it wasn't essential, finding a female director was important to the producing team, given the coming of age nature of the piece. After talking to a number of different prospects, for more than a year and a half, they found Floria Sigismondi. "We certainly knew of Floria and her music video work," offers Pohlad. "We were all very drawn to her, and it's turned out incredibly well. She dove into the material, and certainly had a strong connection to it. She's very confident with a very strong vision, and is somebody with great visual sense and a great eye." Read more
Music Supervisor George Drakoulias recalls a pivotal moment during the rehearsals, when he was playing tapes for Joan Jett. "George, why are you playing my songs back to me, I thought we were supposed to listen to Kristen?" Jett asked. "No it is Kristen singing," said Drakoulias.Read more
Academy Award-nominated actor Michael Shannon wasn't sure his schedule would allow him to take on the role of Kim Fowley. When he began to research the part, he came across an interview Fowley had done on "The Tomorrow Show with Tom Snyder" back in the 1970s. Read more
"I made a conscious effort to be very realistic in creating a world in terms of our story arc, said Sigismondi. "At the beginning, the valley is beautiful and sunny California, but it shapes and shifts as the film progresses; the girls go on the road and things get grittier."Read more
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE RUNAWAYS
FLORIA SIGISMONDI (DIRECTOR)
The multi-disciplinary work of Floria Sigismondi encompasses film, video, photography and installations. Incorporating early film and painterly aesthetics Floria creates a hyper-surrealism based on the figure, using images derived from hallucinatory dream-states. Her videos mix seamlessly with her photography series, and her photographic images translate naturally into mixed-media forms. Floria's images exist in a theatre setting that is both narrative and starkly visual, revealing the poetic and sometimes macabre world.
Most recently, a second photography book titled Immune, a book of photographs from publisher Die Gestalten Verlag, was released in 2005.
Floria Sigismondi was born in Pescara, Italy to opera singing parents. When she was two years old the family immigrated to Canada, settling in the industrial city of Hamilton, Ontario. Floria has exhibited her photography, film, and sculpture installations in exhibitions internationally in New York, Paris, Toronto, Rome, Los Angeles, Mexico City, London, Italy, Germany, Sweden, and Copenhagen.
Musical artists Floria has worked with include The White Stripes, David Bowie, The Cure, Leonard Cohen, Sigur Ros, Marilyn Manson, and Bjork, among others. Her photographs have been included in group exhibitions with Cindy Sherman, Rebecca Horn, Vanessa Beecroft, Tony Oursler, Donald Lipski, Francesco Clemente, and Joel-Peter Witkin.
JOAN JETT (EXECUTIVE PRODUCER)
Joan Jett is a pioneer, revered songwriter and musician. Her influence is felt not only in the music world, but also in the fabric of society, penetrating pop culture with her music, her signature style, and her social activism.
Joan is not only known for her 6 platinum albums, 17 hit rock tracks, and 9 Billboard "Top 40" singles, but also because her unique style and persona has influenced countless musicians, artists, fashion designers, and authors.
Her impact is felt in a wide range of places, from NBC Broadcast's Sunday Night Football, where you can hear Faith Hill sing the theme song against the melody of Joan's "I Hate Myself for Loving You" to American Chopper, the hit TLC show, which uses her seminal recording, "Bad Reputation," for their signature song and video.
Her music is heard in video games, nightclubs, sports arenas, TV shows and movies, and has continued to inspire new generations of listeners. Joan's unique style is seen on the runways and in fashion magazines, in make up styles and street styles. Her style has even inspired designs in furniture.
Joan's legacy is not just topical; it is of social importance as well. When Joan co-founded The Runaways with drummer Sandy West, she made history and paved the way for all the women who came after her by pioneering a seminal all girl rock and roll band. She opened the door and inspired female musicians to pick up a guitar in the formerly male dominated landscape.
In keeping with her pioneering spirit, she became the first woman to start her own independent record company, Blackheart Records. The label continues to grow, giving emerging artists a chance to succeed.
Joan recently designed with Gibson, her signature Joan Jett Gibson Melody Maker. This is the first signature electric guitar created by a woman, and the Joan Jett Melody Maker is one of the hottest guitars on the market.
Joan's influence and music speaks to all corners of society and spans generations. She is an activist, a philanthropist and a timeless icon.
Cherie Currie rocketed to international stardom as the teenage lead vocalist for the now legendary all-female rock band, The Runaways, alongside band mates Joan Jett, Lita Ford, Sandy West & Jackie Fox.
After three albums with The Runaways, ("The Runaways", "Queens of Noise", and "Live In Japan"), Cherie went on to record 2 solo albums ("Beauty's Only Skin Deep" for Polygram Records, & "Messin' With The Boys" with twin sister Marie Currie for Capitol Records), then as an actress, starred in numerous films including "Foxes" with Jodie Foster, "Parasite" with Demi Moore, "Wavelength" with Robert Carradine, "This is Spinal Tap", "Twilight Zone-The Movie", "Rosebud Beach Hotel", "Rich Girl" and others, as well as numerous guest spots on series television.
Cherie is the co-author of "Neon Angel: The Cherie Currie Story". Considered one of the best rock & roll biographies of all time, this treasure is scheduled for re-release and has been updated to include the years since its original release, also featuring additional stories from Cherie's days in The Runaways.
The multi-talented Cherie continues to act, record and perform around the world. Recently, she added the role of record producer to her impressive resume, and opened her own Chainsaw Art Gallery in Chatsworth, California. She is currently training to enter her first Chainsaw Art competition. Check out her online Chainsaw Art Gallery at ChainsawChick.com.
Over the course of his decades-long career Kim Fowley has been a true jack-of-all-trades; a singer, songwriter, producer, manager, a disc jockey, published poet and the catalyst behind much of the music to emerge from the Los Angeles area during the 1960s and 1970s. In the mid- 960s, Fowley became immersed in the Los Angeles counterculture, befriending Frank Zappa and his band the Mothers of Invention and later appearing on their Freak Out! LP.
A prolific songwriter, he also composed material for the Byrds, the Beach Boys, Soft Machine, Cat Stevens, and Them, and produced the likes of Gene Vincent, Warren Zevon, and Helen Reddy. In 1967 Fowley issued his own solo debut, Love Is Alive and Well, a record that found him closely aligned with the flower power movement. A series of solo records followed, including Born to Be Wild, The Day the Earth Stood Still, and International Heroes.
In 1975, after completing the LP Animal God of the Streets, Fowley returned to his Svengali role by assembling the notorious Runaways, a teenage hard rock girl group featuring a young Joan Jett, Lita Ford, and Cherie Currie. After the original group splintered, Fowley launched another Runaways in the 1980s.
From the Monkees to Van Halen to No Doubt and beyond, Rodney Bingenheimer, a.k.a. "Rodney on the ROQ," has been a cherished figure not only in Los Angeles, but the entire music community, for over 2 decades.
Motivated by his love for music and the allure of Hollywood, Rodney first hit the infamous Sunset Strip as a teenager during its psychedelic 1960s heyday. A constantly evolving fixture as scenester, journalist, promoter and club owner, Bingenheimer was deemed "Mayor of the Sunset Strip." He began spinning records on Los Angeles' cutting-edge radio station KROQ, and soon became one of the country's most well known DJs.
In the 1970s Rodney made his name as a national columnist for "Go" and "Phonograph Record" magazines; and he also operated and co-owned his club, "Rodney Bingenheimer's English Disco", an L.A. club where Bowie, Iggy Pop, T.Rex, Suzi Quatro, Led Zeppelin, and the Sweet were all regulars.
THE ART OF ADAPTATION