With every new piece of info that emerges surrounding director Randall Miller's rock 'n' roll tribute “CBGB," the more the film simply certifies itself as having a brilliant casting director in Richard Pagano. After Alan Rickman, Malin Akerman and Rupert Grint all found unconventional but intriguing roles as various mainstays of the famous New York club, the production continues its streak of inspired choices by adding a talented musician, a sitcom star, and a period-drama actress, among others, to the list.
The nearest anyone has come to portraying reptilian rocker Iggy Pop onscreen was Ewan McGregor's loose character riff on him in “Velvet Goldmine,” though a different Elijah Wood-starring biopic came close. However, The Hollywood Reporter states Miller's film will change all that, as Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins has agreed to step up to the challenge of bringing the role to unsettling life. Hawkins is clearly already halfway there physically, but a debut screen performance inhabiting a force of nature like Iggy would be intimidating to just about anyone, A-listers included.
Also rounding out the cast are Johnny Galecki (“The Big Bang Theory”) as manager Terry Ork, and Mickey Sumner (“The Borgias”) playing Patti Smith. The film centers around Rickman as Hilly Kristal, the notorious entrepreneur who placed his entire existence into the cramped space of CBGB, and in the process turned it into the legendary punk-rock venue that saw almost every major act pass through until its closure in 2008.
The stellar cast involved could lead one into expecting amazing results, but then again, Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning faced similarly fantastic casting in their film “The Runaways,” and that project, while a fun flick, definitely disappointed in terms of lost potential. Let's hope Miller has acknowledged the music genre's inherent clichés and traps in his script, and goes on to assemble a film that doesn't rely too heavily on its stellar cast, but instead supports them through a compelling narrative and engaging atmosphere.
“CBGB” is set to begin production June 25th in Savannah, Georgia before transferring to New York to finish.