By: Jeff Giles
They billed themselves as “the world’s most notorious rock band” — and Mötley Crüe proved they’d more than earned that title with the publication of The Dirt, the bestselling 2001 memoir looking back on their early exploits, fast rise to worldwide fame and the behind-the-scenes madness that frequently made them just as entertaining to watch as they were to listen to. As soon as it arrived in stores, it was a book crying out for the rock biopic treatment, and after years in development, it looks like it’s finally on its way to the screen.
Of course, anything can happen in Hollywood, and there are a million steps on the journey between a film set and your eyeballs — and that all probably goes double when we’re talking about a movie inspired by the life and times of Mötley Crüe. But a flurry of recent news has us finally convinced this thing is actually going to happen.
With cameras set to roll on the The Dirt next month — and a cast finally assembled — we’re taking a look at all the players arranged for what promises to be one of the loudest, wildest and all-around most aggressive real-life band histories ever depicted onscreen. From the projects where you might have seen the stars before to the résumés compiled by the picture’s behind-the-scenes talent — and a refresher course on the book itself — here’s everything you need to know about Mötley Crüe’s The Dirt.
Machine Gun Kelly as Tommy Lee
Colson Baker, the rapper and actor better known by his stage name Machine Gun Kelly, hasn’t been in the entertainment industry long, but he hit the ground running: Since releasing his first mixtape in 2006, Kelly has popped up on the charts and on the screen regularly, scoring a series of film and television roles (including his breakout appearance in 2014’s Beyond the Lights) between hit singles (like his Top 5 pop crossover “Bad Things,” featuring Camila Cabello). Although his short blond hair isn’t a match for Tommy Lee’s ’80s mane, the two have similarly wiry builds and an evident fondness for body ink. Kelly can also be seen later this year in the upcoming sci-fi movie Captive State, starring John Goodman.
Douglas Booth as Nikki Sixx
The Dirt won’t be Douglas Booth’s first musical biopic venture, although his first acting gig as a real-life star — playing Culture Club frontman Boy George in the BBC movie Worried About the Boy — was very different. The London-born actor has compiled a healthy list of credits over the last decade and change, landing in everything from period dramas like Great Expectations to big-budget films like the Wachowskis’ Jupiter Ascending. His chops clearly impressed producers, who tabbed Booth as an early frontrunner to play Nikki Sixx when casting reports started filtering in late last year.
his U.S. breakthrough by playing Lee Harvey Oswald in 11.22.63, the Hulu-produced adaptation of Stephen King’s novel about a time-traveling teacher trying to stop John F. Kennedy’s assassination. That series gave American audiences their first experience with Webber, but he was already an old pro, appearing in a variety of overseas films and TV shows starting with a 2008 episode of the Australian medical drama All Saints. More recently, he’s been seen as Lewis Wilson, a supporting character in Netflix’s The Punisher.
Iwan Rheon as Mick Mars
Like a number of his co-stars, Iwan Rheon was born and raised half a world away from the sunny California streets where the members of Mötley Crüe prowled. Unlike most of the others, though, he’s already something of a star in his own right. Rheon, who hails from Wales, will be familiar to many through his thoroughly convincing portrayal of the deliciously evil Ramsay Bolton on HBO’s Game of Thrones — and more recently, he’s taken on another high-profile gig, playing Maximus on ABC’s Inhumans. Playing Mick Mars in The Dirt will be a change of pace, but Rheon’s got a real-life musical background: After putting out a trio of EPs, the singer-songwriter released his debut album, Dinard, in 2015.
Tony Cavalero as Ozzy Osbourne
Tony Cavalero has signed on to play Ozzy Osbourne, with whom Motley Crue toured in their early days. Cavalero has starred as Dewey Finn in the TV adaptation of ‘School of Rock.’ He’s also had recurring roles on the series’ ‘SuperMansion,’ ‘Heart of Dixie,’ ‘The Single Life’ and ‘Aim High.’
Rebekah Graf as Heather Locklear
Rebekah Graf, who played the titular character in the 2010 sitcom My Roommate Sam and has a also been in the Entourage movie and Lycan, has been chosen to play Heather Locklear, who was married to Tommy Lee from 1986 until 1983.
David Costabile as Doc McGhee
The role of longtime Motley Crue manager Doc McGhee will be played by David Costabile. He currently plays Mike “Wags” Wagner in Showtime’s acclaimed series ‘Billions,’ and he’s also recurring roles in ‘The Wire’ and ‘Breaing Bad.’ This isn’t Costabile’s first part in a production about musicians. He was in ‘Flight of the Conchords,” an HBO comedy that ran from 2007-09 about a New Zealand novelty folk-rap duo, where he played Doug, the hapless husband of the group’s lone fan/wannabe-groupie, Mel (Kristen Schaal)
Director Jeff Tremaine
MTV’s sadomasochistic stunt series Jackass was a lot of things — including utterly addictive viewing — but it didn’t necessarily look like the greatest incubator for long-running Hollywood careers. The guys who starred in the show have gone on to varying degrees of success since the franchise went on seemingly permanent hiatus; meanwhile, behind the scenes, director and co-creator Jeff Tremaine has been quietly carving out an interesting path for himself, writing, producing and directing an array of releases that run the gamut from Jackass-style comedy to ESPN documentaries and … well, The Dirt. Tremaine has been attached to this project for years, and remained one of its most persistent public cheerleaders even when it looked like it was permanently stuck in development hell; he even produced The End, the concert documentary revolving around Mötley Crüe’s final show. However this movie ends up turning out, it’s being helmed by a guy with a passion for the project — and the band’s music.
The Dirt Book
There’s obviously no shortage of rock biographies — there’s virtually a cottage industry around books devoted to the biggest stars in the genre, with multiple weighty tomes inspired by the lives and legacies of artists such as Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan. And those of us who weren’t in the band will never really know just how accurate Mötley Crüe’s confessions might be. But even with all that being said, The Dirt remains a gripping warts-and-all account from some of hard rock’s hardest-living survivors — which is part of why it was such a bestseller upon publication in 2001, despite arriving years after the group’s commercial peak. In addition to inspiring its long-gestating screen adaptation, The Dirt also opened a literary sideline for the members of the band; Tommy Lee and Vince Neil have both since penned more straightforward memoirs, while Nikki Sixx released his acclaimed Heroin Diaries book, an account of his journey to rock bottom and back out of the drug dependency that nearly ended his life for good.