Actor Diego Boneta may not be a household name in the U.S., but that’s likely to change with the 21-year-old’s red-hot debut in “Rock of Ages.” The Mexico City native plays the lead role in the highly anticipated film adaptation of the hit Broadway musical, co-starring Tom Cruise, Russell Brand, Julianne Hough, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Alex Baldwin and belts out some classic 80’s anthems while looking good in heavy metal gear (there’s just something about tight leather pants and muscle tees!).
The film – which hits theaters nationwide this Friday – tells the story of aspiring rocker Drew (Boneta) and small town girl Sherrie (Hough), who meet and fall in love in 1980s California while following their dreams of Hollywood fame and fortune. The film’s plot is eerily similar to Boneta’s personal journey to the glittering lights of Hollywood, as “Rock of Ages” marks singer-actor’s official transition from Spanish language novelas and reoccurring roles on small-screen hits (like “Pretty Little Liars” and “90210”) to full-length feature films.
“It’s been an amazing transition from doing TV in Mexico to doing Hollywood movies” says Boneta. “This has always been a dream of mine, ever since I was a kid watching movies.”
Boneta, who’s considered something of a pop icon in Mexico thanks to his stint on the hit novela “Rebelde” and two successful pop albums that went gold in Chile and Brazil, said that moving to Los Angeles from Mexico to achieve his own rock-star dreams proved harder than he thought.
“The competition was really tough although I’d already had a successful career in Mexico. No one in Los Angeles cared about that, so the only thing I had going for me was the experience I had from the television shows and tours I did,” recalls Boneta, who credits “Rock of Ages” director Adam Shankman for his big break. “I could have never, ever imagined working with such amazing co-stars like I do in this movie.”
After recuperating from the shock of receiving the part (“I had a migraine that went away as soon as I told my parents about the part,” he says), Boneta threw himself into filming. To prepare for the role of a wanna-be-rock star, Boneta took guitar lessons alongside Hollywood heavy weight Tom Cruise – an experience, Boneta says, was “absolutely amazing.”
“The first time we had a jam session, Tom surprised me by being really stoked about music and we had a great conversation about the difference between music and movie production – we were just laughing, cracking up,” says Boneta. “He’s the hardest working man I’ve met in my life, and extremely humble too, which is rare.”
Boneta, who now plays the guitar for a half hour each night before bed (“it helps me unwind and relax,” he explains), says that while he’s thrilled his movie career is taking off, he plans to continue recording music and working on television. He recorded a song with Mary J. Blige for the “Rock of Ages” soundtrack and will be headlining a concert with Queen, Def Leppard and Whitesnake for the film’s London premiere. Boneta also recently been signed to Maroon 5 front man Adam Levine’s label and will be filming a new series for MTV.
It’s a lot for the actor-singer, but Boneta says that underneath it all, fans would be surprised to know that he considers himself “hopefully romantic.” How romantic, really? Well, the star confessed to cooking up a feast of tacos with arroz y frijoles for an ex-girlfriend. And what did he serve for dessert?
“I might have had my mom help me with the flan,” says Boneta. “Just proving that there are no boundaries to what I would do for love.”