In “Ordinary World,”Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong plays Perry Miller, a former punk rocker coming to terms with his square existence as a family man living in Queens, working at a hardware store. Approaching 40, he’s happily married to a beautiful, successful lawyer (Selma Blair) with two kids, but he spends a lot of time pondering what could have been. Armstrong, who is 44 himself, chats with us about making family a priority, getting the acting bug and bro-ing out with co-star Fred Armisen.
“Ordinary World” is out Oct. 14 in theaters and on demand.
This role shows what your life might look like if Green Day hadn’t been successful. Did you ponder that “what if” as you were getting into character?
The rad thing about Perry is he puts his family first, and I can relate to that with my own family. As far as the professional side of it, I come from a very working class background: my dad was a truck driver, my brother’s a plumber, my other brother’s a custodian, so somehow, I probably would have ended up…the president of the United States of America? [Laughs.] I probably would have ended up working with them and trying to support my hobby as a musician as much as I could.
What drew you to this film?
After I did “American Idiot” on Broadway, I guess I got the acting bug a little bit and I started getting smaller roles like on “Nurse Jackie” and on “Like Sunday like Rain” and then [writer/director] Lee Kirk asked if I was interested in it. I read it and basically fell in love with it overnight.
How is acting different from musical performance?
The hard part is probably bringing someone else’s words to life. [As far as Green Day], I am the character and writing my own songs. I think I just try to approach it with the same work ethic that I do with everything.
The scene where Perry meets Joan Jett is pretty funny considering it’s you. What is your relationship with Jett?
Joan’s a legend. The Blackhearts and Green Day toured together in Europe. There was a scene where Lee wanted a rock star to come in and I thought she’d be amazing, and I asked her if she wanted to do it and she was game. I love Joan. She actually came to my 40th birthday, believe it or not.
What was it like to work with Fred Armisen?
He’s hilarious in a way where we were just being bros, as you say. We had a lot in common. Actually, our bands played together in the early ‘90s, so it was fun to reminisce about that and talk music. We both were pretty tired while we were shooting together, so there was that kind of delirious comedy.
Perry splurges on a presidential suite at the Drake Hotel to try to throw a birthday rager. You’ve probably stayed in countless hotel rooms like that in your career.
The difference between Perry Miller’s experience and mine is that the TV actually did fly out of the window on several occasions. [Laughs]