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Hey Kids, such fun to have chatted with stars Dakota Fanning, Kristen Stewart and Michael Shannon, director Floria Sigismondi and rock n roll icon, Ms. Joan Jett herself, who let us in on what it was like to dip into a little rock ‘n roll debauchery in the new biopic of the band Jett started at age 15, The Runaways.

Dig it!


 The Runaways

Director Floria Sigismondi


The Lady Miz Diva:  How did you become attached to The Runaways and end up not only directing it, but writing the screenplay?

Floria Sigismondi:  My manager, Brian Young, gave me Cherie {Currie}’s memoir {Neon Angel} and I was interested, so I went to meet Art and John Linson, the producers and then I went to most of the girls and I said, “I don’t really wanna do a biopic, I wanna do a coming-of-age story,” and they were like, “yeah.”  So it was like minds and we got on right away and they just asked me if I wanted to write, so it kinda happened like that.


LMD:  And this was your first screenwriting project?

FS:  Yeah, I’d never written a movie before.  They had a lot of trust {Laughs}.


LMD:  What was it like to adapt the lives of these people and try to make it into something entertaining and watchable?

FS:  Well, you know, it was challenging cos you’ve got living people and then you’ve gotta find the story and everybody’s got their own versions of happenings and stuff.  So I interviewed everybody and sort of narrowed the story down to salt and pepper, Cherie and Joan, and how let’s say the band or this wild world affected them.  And how it was really to be 15, 16, being caught up in the rock and roll world and being so young and how it affected them.


LMD:  Is that how you decided to not go deeper into the story of others in the band like, Lita Ford, who became a big star in her own right?

FS:  Yeah, we didn’t have the rights and when I decided to make the story about the two, then I knew what would stick and what wouldn’t, even the real happenings, because I wanted to stay very true to that.  It kinda went like this, I introduce the two characters, they meet and then they come apart again, so it was like a weird hourglass.


LMD:  Can you tell us what you did to get the girls ready for these roles?  Did you make them play rock music?

FS:  Well, all the girls could play their instruments and I just put them through a boot camp.  Put them together with some guitar lessons, drum lessons and Cheri and Joan…  I mean -- now I’m getting them all confused {Laughs}.  They’re so believable that I’m getting them confused.  Kristen and Dakota, I had a little bit more time with Dakota, and I put her with a live band, so she could feel actually what it was like to compete with big amps and drums, cos as an actor you can be subtle and it comes through, but as a musician up on the stage you’re competing with lots of loud noise, especially in the rock and roll world.  So I put her with my husband’s band in the studio in my house.  So we did that like 3 or 4 times and she was taking it all in.  Then we went into the studio because I wanted them to really sing the songs, so I had Joan do the instrumentation, her and her band, so that was great, I think, for them too to know what it was like to be in the studio and record all that. And we put them through two weeks of - once I got the rest of the girls together - they actually rehearsed like a band cos I wanted all their fingers in the right places.  It was really important for me especially since the real girls had such a hard time with people believing that they could actually play.


LMD:  Was it difficult to get that great soundtrack together?

FS:  No, it happened very easily, I think it took one week.  I heard the music as I was writing, so a lot of that stuff was there as I was getting inspired.


LMD:  What did you make of meeting Kim Fowley?  Did you think he was serious about The Runaways, or were they some kind of novelty to him?

FS:  You know, I did have two meetings with him, I had a meeting with him and Joan and I think it was heartfelt for him.  Looking back, I think for all of them it really was a special time, I don’t know if they knew how special until now.  That’s how I felt anyway.


LMD:  What do you think that girls Dakota and Kristen’s age are going to take away from The Runaways?

FS:  You know, they were putting their necks out.  I think they were pioneers of their time.  They were doing things that young girls weren’t supposed to do, playing aggressive rock and roll and playing those instruments.  And it hasn’t really changed; there aren’t that many female bands.  I hope they’ll be inspired {Laughs} to make good music.


Michael Shannon


The Lady Miz Diva:  Can you tell us about meeting Kim Fowley and what research you did before playing him onscreen?

Michael Shannon:  The first day I was on the set, at the end of the day, Kristen and Joan were like, “You still haven’t met Kim, have you?” “No, I haven’t” “Well, it seems like you should.” And I was like, “Yeah, I probably should.”  So they set up this dinner, we met at this Denny’s out in the Valley and we sat down and Kim came.  He told me about his life, he brought all these pictures and clippings and stuff.  He told me a lot about his childhood and parents and growing up.  The thing is for the image he shows the world now, he was actually kind of a lonely, sensitive child.  He had polio twice when he was a kid and I don’t think he had a lot of friends.  He said he parents were very wrapped up in their own thing and they didn’t pay much attention to him.  I feel like maybe a lot of the way he is now today is a reaction to that.  They say a lot of times that when you lose your childhood due to illnesses and things like that, you try and get it back when you’re older.  So maybe his formative years made him what he is today.

Before that I had been watching footage of him an interview that he did on the Tom Snyder show.  It’s really the only thing I watched over and over.


LMD:  Did meeting him and finding all that out affect your portrayal at all?

MS:  No, not really.  If anything, it made me feel more of a sense of trying to get it right, but it wasn’t like I wasn’t trying before.  He just told me at the end of the dinner, “This is probably how people will remember me after I’m dead is from this movie, so get it right.” I went, “Okay.”  He was kinda kidding, but I don’t know.


LMD:  What do you think Kim’s take was on The Runaways?  Do you think he took them seriously as a band?

MS:  I think he was pretty passionate about them.  I mean, Kim’s been in music a long time; even before he helped form that band, he’d been producing, writing, performing music for decades.  And obviously he’s not a household name, so anybody who does that must really love music.  If he just wanted to get rich or get famous, he could’ve done something else.  I think he genuinely believed in the music, he helped write some of the songs.  I think they excited him.  It’s hard to tell, because he turned around and left pretty much right after it started.


LMD:  That intrigued me because he was so involved and he disappears and left the girls on their own.  He reminded me of an absent parent. 

MS:  Yeah, he disappears.  Maybe he’s the kind of guy who doesn’t like to get too attached to something, you know?  That’s possible, too.  I have a CD at home of him working with 25 different artists and every song sounds different and some of them he sings on, he writes.  Maybe he’s kind of person that thrives on variety, that doesn’t wanna wake up and do the same thing every day.


LMD:  What’s coming up next for you?

MS:  I’m shooting a TV show for HBO called Boardwalk Empire and I have a few other movies I’ve been involved with that may come out soon.  This movie The Greatest is coming out in April, I think and a movie called 13.  And I’m in this film called Jonah Hex with Josh Brolin that will come out this summer.


Dakota Fanning and Kristen Stewart


The Lady Miz Diva:  Besides learning to play instruments and what it was like to be in a rock band, what did you learn from your real life counterparts? How involved were they in helping you mold your characters?

Dakota Fanning:  I think they were really involved in helping us as much as we wanted them to help us and to be there.  I mean, playing a real person is kind of the most daunting task and Cheri actually being there and meeting her and talking to her about these experiences was more than helpful.

Kristen Stewart:  Cos there were things that we would never know, that we wouldn’t be able to put in the movie that would be lost that were very important to them; just details and photos and footage and a book that is a subjective retelling of the story.  I mean, her {Currie’s} book is definitely her side of it and it was nice to hear Joan’s because it was very different.  There’s a million things that would’ve been different in the movie and it would’ve been telling the story wrong had they not been there to sort of correct us.


LMD:  But in terms of Cheri’s and Joan’s physicality, were there things you studied watching the way they moved or their posture?

DF:  Definitely, yeah, I was definitely looking at the way Cheri was.  I mean, Cheri onstage and offstage is very different and I wanted to make sure that there was a difference between the two.  Because onstage she emulated David Bowie and was bigger than life and had so much confidence; but in real life she’s actually very vulnerable and kind of has an innocence about her.


LMD:  What do you think people, particularly girls your age will take away from The Runaways?

DF:  I don’t think a lot of girls my age know who The Runaways are, so I think that they’ll definitely know who they are.  And I don’t think that a lot of people know Cheri Currie’s story, so I think that’ll be really great, and yeah, to bring their music to a different generation.

KS:  There’s definitely that and it’s nice to deliver the story to people who don’t know about it, and I think it’s good to know sort of where we came from because we’ve grown up in a different way.  I’ve never thought for one second that I couldn’t do or say something or look a certain way.  That’s not how I was raised and it was different for them.  Also, Joan is really excited and we’re all really excited about, like, people have been inspired by the music a little bit.  Like I’ve had a lot of friends say, “Oh man, I wanna be in a band now.”  We’ve experienced that the most we possibly can and we’re like, “Yeah, do it!”  But we’re like, fine, you know? {Both laugh}  But it’s just really awesome, because you see a lot of girls playing instruments now, you see a lot of girls playing music, but actually none of it’s aggressive.  None of it!  Like none of it’s hard.  Nobody plays hard rock anymore, really, like no girls.  That would be awesome if more people got more into it and felt like they could do that again.


Joan Jett


The Lady Miz Diva:  Talk about the Glorious Results of a Misspent Youth.  What was it like to watch Kristen playing your avatar on screen?

Joan Jett:  Well, it’s the first time I’ve heard it put like that. {Laughs}  I’ll tell ya, it’s about as surreal as you can get.  It’s a pretty interesting feeling.  It’s a good feeling; it’s been a pleasant experience so far.


LMD:  How do you think she did?

JJ:  I think she did really great.  If I didn’t think she did great, I probably wouldn’t even be here, you know?  She really made a grand effort to be authentic and genuine and really try to embody me and I think she got it.  And people in Los Angeles who know me, know me pre-Runaways, or during that time, people like my family, people like Pat Smear from The Germs who hung out with me, many times, many times.  When you’ve got guys who are like that saying, “She nailed it!”  You know, that goes beyond me saying it, so other people who’ve lived with me and know me.  Yeah, I thought she was brilliant.


LMD:  What do you think went wrong with The Runaways?  Do you think anything could’ve changed their ending?

JJ:  I don’t, I really don’t.  I think we were five girls with a different… I mean, we came together to do a certain thing, but ultimately I’m not sure if we were all on the same page about what it meant to us or what we wanted to achieve from it.  I’m not sure that Cheri’s were necessarily the same as mine.  I think Sandy {West}’s and mine were pretty similar, about trying to make it easier for girls to play and they would see another…  You know, in life, society creates these roles; roles for men, roles for women.  So you grow up, you go to school and this is the way we flow; men flow into these jobs, women flow into these jobs.  I was trying to create a vision that you can flow into this, as well, and that that’s okay.

It was also about the communication.  We didn’t communicate.  We didn’t sit down and talk about what is bugging us, y‘know?  What’s the problem?  If some of the girls weren’t getting along, what is the issue and to resolve it?  I know we didn’t sit down and talk those things out, but I’m also not sure they were resolvable.  Some of them were basic music issues; where somebody likes one kind of music and somebody else likes a totally other kind of music and it’s just we’re growing apart and that’s just the way it is.  And soon we would’ve been 20-year-old Runaways, and that just can’t be.


LMD:  You mentioned wanting to change the mindset of what was acceptable for girls to do.  Do you think girls today watching The Runaways will take that away from the film?

JJ:  Well, somebody said, “It made me wanna form a band!”  So, I thought, well, if this movie makes girls wanna do that - and boys, too - that’s great.  Or anything, anything that you want to do that people are saying, ‘No, you can’t do that’  ‘Why?’  ‘Because you don’t!’  ‘Well, now I do.’  You know, it’s like, you’re not tired, until you are, you know that sort of quote?  Well, things are the way they are until they’re not!  And who’s gonna be the one to change it?  Why not us, y’know?  Get out there and do it.  Let’s give it a shot and if you don’t make it, at least you gave it a shot and you won’t spend your whole life going, ‘Dammit, I followed my parents’ path and even my fuck-ups aren’t mine!’



~ The Lady Miz Diva

March 16th, 2010



Click here for our review of The Runaways.



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Exclusive photos by LMD

Film stills courtesy of Apparition






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