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Colson Baker, Douglas Booth & Iwan Rheon Interview: The Dirt

The Dirt is a biographical film that tells the story of glam metal band Mötley Crüe’s rise to fame. Colson Baker, known professionally as the rapper Machine Gun Kelly, plays Tommy Lee, Mötley Crüe's drummer.  Douglas Booth, who starred in Darren Aronofsky's Noah and The Wachowskis' Jupiter Ascending, plays Nikki Sixx, the band’s bassist. And Game of Thrones’ Iwan Rheon plays Mick Mars, Mötley Crüe's guitarist. The Dirt was released on Netflix this March.

Screen Rant: Guys, amazing job. First and foremost, I’ve got to ask, what do you think people are going to get to take away from this? Because there's a lot of trials and tribulations this band goes through. Through fame, through their mishaps. What can the new generation of artists take away from Mötley Crüe?

Douglas Booth: Well I feel like, for us, our main focus was telling-- Giving people, maybe for like younger ones haven't seen that world into the '80s which was such a different time, like such a lost time now, you'd never returned to something like that. But Mötley Crüe sold how many hundred? A hundred and something million…

Iwan Rheon: Loads.

Douglas Booth: Loads of albums. So, we wanted to like honor the music, and the people that saw that band then, and it meant so much to them, and kind of bring that to life.

Colson Baker: Yeah, kind of make it feel like that they're experiencing that for the first time.

Douglas Booth: Yeah, ‘cause I was born in ‘92 so I missed it. So, it's such a fascinating window into a time, a long, lost time, I would say.

Colson Baker: And showing consequences. I think, to answer your question, I think showing consequences.

Screen Rant: I mean it also shows them in a pretty real light. Like pretty raw reality. But you play Nikki and he has quite the arc. How fulfilling was it playing that character and diving into somebody as complex?

Douglas Booth: Oh, I mean, it's, for as an actor, it’s a dream to play someone that has so many layers. I remember when I first read the script, I was like, “I want to play Tommy. He's just like, there's such a lovable horny puppy dog of rock and roll.”

Colson Baker: And I wanted to play him.

Douglas Booth: He wanted to play Nikki.

Iwan Rheon: I wanted to play Vince [LAUGHS].

Douglas Booth: And then we kind of both, I mean, he literally, he walked into the room, and he's like, his physicality, his everything, he is Tommy Lee. And they were like, “Would you think about playing, Nikki? Would you do a tape for Nikki?” And suddenly I realized there was such complexity there. And that is a dream for an actor to dive into that, I guess.

Daniel Webber as Vince Neil, Iwan Rheon as Mick Mars, Douglas Booth as Nikki Sixx and Machine Gun Kelly as Tommy Lee in The Dirt

Screen Rant: Well, speaking of Tommy, I mean that's like perfect casting for you as Tommy, because you come from a music background as well. How did you relate to that? Both being kind of like in the rock star kind of life.

Colson Baker: I think, I had attached myself to Tommy just as a fan from a lot younger. Even his other book Tommyland, I was huge on. I'd read those when I was really young. I had got Tommy Lee's Mayhem tattoo, that was on his stomach, tattooed on my wrist.  When I was like 18 maybe. And, dude, I was always like tall, lanky, loved girls, loved music. It wasn't too far of a departure from who I am [LAUGHS].

Screen Rant: Now Mick may not have been the biggest celebrity coming out of the band, but he has one of the sharpest personalities and perspective. What did you want to bring to that character and really dive into with Mick?

Iwan Rheon: I guess, first and foremost, how much of an incredible musician he is and what he brought to the band as a musician. That passion and drive to just be amazing and that aggressive style. And also, I think he's kind of the wise owl of the band. He's lived a bit more, he's already experienced life a little bit more.

Douglas Booth: He used to live on park benches when he first started.

Iwan Rheon: Yeah, exactly. And he had, he'd lived a whole different life. And, yeah, it's kind of how excited he was to finally [find] where he was supposed to be in this band, with these guys. And I think that was really important for him.

Colson Baker: But I think what really took it to the next level though, really, the physicality of the acting. Because I think too, it was, it was amazing to see that. Sure, there’s less words on paper for Mick Mars. But watching, you can't help but just always see the little things. Like when he struggles to get up, or all those, you know, it spoke so loudly. I remember when I watched it for the first time, I mean, I don't like talking to you while you're right here, talking about you while you're right here [LAUGHS], but…

Iwan Rheon: Thanks though, that’s really sweet.

Screen Rant: Now Mötley Crüe is known for having crazy, crazy stories, and not all of them could fit into this film. Are there any crazy stories that you guys have heard about or researched that didn't make it into the film?

Douglas Booth: I mean, I think there was, there's definitely a process when you write a script that you can't fit everything in. So, there's definitely, there’s a lot of stories that didn't make it into the film. And we had a great writing team, that kind of just weave the best version of our story for now, I think.

More: Read Screen Rant's The Dirt Review

Key Release Dates
  • The Dirt (2019) release date: Mar 22, 2019
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