We have a few musicians in our time that are a bit notorious for being, let’s say, larger than life. But none compare to the wildly talented, over-the-top, infamous ’80s rock band- the Mötley Crüe. The LA-based group was formed in the early 1980s and took the world by storm with their antics, music and overall presence. When the 2001 autobiography “The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band” came out, fans were stunned at the honesty and stories that were included—so much so that the book was made into a movie.
Jeff Tremaine and Netflix brought the Mötley Crüe’s biopic “The Dirt” to life and signed on Douglas Booth, Iwan Rheon, Colson Baker (aka Machine Gun Kelly) and Daniel Webber to star as Nikki Sixx, Mick Mars, Tommy Lee and Vince Neil. The biopic “The Dirt” is set to drop on Netflix on March 22, and the film is a roller coaster ride to say the least—but also massively entertaining. Iwan Rheon sat down with Metro to talk about the film, how he took on the role of Mick Mars and how the Mötley Crüe truly is the most notorious rock band in the world.
Notoriously known: Iwan Rheon discusses the epic and gritty Mötley Crüe biopic 'The Dirt'
It took a few years for “The Dirt” to be made; some production companies wanted the story to be “cleaned up a bit,” but the band was adamant that the story be told the right way. They were never censored on stage or in life, so why should the movie be?
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“It’s all written down in the book so you’ve gotta tell that story. It was a different era, a different time. Things in the ’80s were crazy—it was a wild decade, and they wanted it to seem authentic. They wanted to keep it as close to the book as possible so that’s probably why it took so long,” says Rheon.
The actors playing the Crüe also wanted to keep their performances as authentic as possible.
“We worked really hard. We spent about three or four weeks in rehearsals working on the live performances and studying the videos of their performances trying to find all of their little moves and replicating it as emphatically as possible,” says Rheon. “One day, Tommy came to the set and he was watching what we were filming. He was so excited about it—that really gave us the confidence to go forward and to know we were on the right track and doing the right thing.”
Rheon got to chat with a few members of the band, and although he didn’t get to meet his onscreen persona Mick Mars in person, he was able to delve into the mind of the guitarist.
“I didn’t actually get to meet Mick, but I spoke to him on the phone. He was really cool, we talked a lot about amps and guitars basically- and then his wife made me a replica of a T-shirt that he used to wear and sent it to me.” Fans can catch a glimpse of the home-made T-shirt in the biopic; the 33-year-old actor filmed a few scenes in it.
“I was focused on him and who he was, and you know, his sort of function in the weird sort of family that they are. He’s a little bit older than the rest of the guys, he has a lot more experience and lived a whole sort of life before meeting the guys, where the others are more young and carefree. So I think he was the wiser of the group, he definitely had a different energy to him. But I just tried to play him as truthfully as I could from what I read in the book. I think the key to him is that he’s such a great, passionate musician- it’s all about the music for him. All he wanted to do was be a guitarist in a band.”
“The Dirt” is unfiltered and unafraid- it shows the darkest moments the band experienced including Nicki Sixx’s overdose that literally killed him for a few minutes before being resuscitated, Vince Neil’s car accident that did end up with a passenger dying, drug use, sexual exploits and a lot of raunchy, reckless behavior. As dirty, gritty and outrageous as it seems that’s what actually happened-it would be a sin if the story was told in any other way.
As notorious as the Mötley Crüe is, the band did truly make history for their musical talent just as much as their naughty antics. “In many ways, they came out in this music scene that was quite minimalistic. At the time it wasn’t about the show, it was kind of about the music and the aggression and keeping it quite simple while doing live performances. They sort of came out and turned that on its head. They were doing stadium performances in smaller venues and that made them notorious in their own way,” says Rheon.
“The Dirt” isn’t a story with a happy ending or a lot of fluffy life lessons, but it is real. The biopic isn’t meant to be a “feel-good” film, it’s all about the music, the band and how history was made by four musicians who at the time were unafraid of consequences.
"The Dirt" is available on Netflix now