Rick Springfield might seem like an obvious choice to play a guitarist in Meryl Streep’s band, in any movie. But the director of Ricki and the Flash, Jonathan Demme, made Springfield audition.
Demme had Rick and the other prospects for the role — some guitarists trying to act, and some actors trying to play guitar — perform with the movie’s band. He told the New York Times that despite his initial disinterest in casting the 80s heartthrob, within moments, the role belonged to Springfield.
“I knew the name, but I couldn’t name any of his tunes.
“They start playing, and he claimed the part immediately. He had the part within a minute of them being together.”
Springfield, whose recent acting gigs have included roles on True Detective, Hot in Cleveland, and Californication, also impressed Streep with his ability to bear with her as she honed her musical chops for the role. Demme had insisted that the band play live in the film, with no overdubs allowed. Streep was cast as a seasoned musician, something she is not in real life.
“Rick was endlessly kind and patient with me, and it must have been a colossal nightmare for him to hear me make the same mistake on the same chord for like a week. It was almost as if Jonathan cast the band as much for their compassion as for their rock cred.”
Streep also told the Times that Springfield showed incredible stamina during filming. He would perform gigs on weekends after filming Ricki and the Flash during the week.
Springfield returned the compliment to Streep during an interview with the Boston Globe. He said Streep’s ability to learn guitar quickly was “pretty impressive.” The iconic actor also made her fellow bandmates feel at ease while they got to know each other prior to filming.
“She would come and sit with us at lunch to try and make it feel [comfortable]. We had some camaraderie right away. It started to sound like a band pretty fast.”
Meryl Streep fans might find the character of Ricki somewhat jarring, not because of her rock star appearance, but her political views. Vulture noted that Ricki is written as an Obama-hating Republican, which is quite different from Streep’s real-life political stance. Writer Diablo Cody said “it’s an unexpected side of [Ricki].” Streep was fine with the character and said “It felt like a real person.”
Ricki and the Flash opens August 7.
[Photo by Stephen Lovekin / Getty Images Entertainment]