Who Plays Greg In 'Ricki & The Flash'? The Movie Guitarist Rocks Off-Stage In A Major Way
Ricki and the Flash stars Meryl Streep as an aging rocker who comes home to try to mend her relationship with the family she neglected in favor of her own dreams — ones she's still pursuing. The movie cuts and back and forth between Streep's reunion with her family and her work as a musician, fronting a band called The Flash filled with talented members. One of her bandmates, Greg, is particularly notable, both for being Ricki's lover and a highly skilled guitar player with a rock-god persona of his own. This is no coincidence, as it's the world-famous musician Rick Springfield who plays Greg in Ricki and the Flash.
The role was highly-coveted amongst musicians and actors alike because it offered the opportunity to play across the amazing Meryl Streep. You might think that the Aussie rocker won the gig because of his acting experience on General Hospital and Californication, but in fact, director Jonathan Demme decided to cast Springfield without even having seen him act or read from the Ricki script. Demme told The New York Times that he actually already had two rockers in mind as possibilities to play Greg, but he brought in a host of others to audition by playing guitar alongside Meryl. To Demme, line reads were less important than how the potential performers interacted onstage with Meryl's character.
When Springfield stepped into the room, it was a gamechanger. Demme described the audition to the Times: "[Springfield] plugs in, is introduced to Meryl, and suddenly the sunshine comes out. They start playing, and he claimed the part immediately. He had the part within a minute of them being together." Suddenly, Demme's two other favorites were "out the window," and Springfield was preparing for his big-screen opportunity.
The "Jessie's Girl" rocker wanted to separate the character from his own persona, so he grew a beard and let his hair grow out in its natural grey color. But his experience as a figure in the music industry was undeniably helpful during the filming process, as Streep would turn to him for guidance during their performance scenes. There was no lip-syncing or fake playing, which might not have been a big deal for a seasoned vet like Springfield but was challenging for Streep (who learned electric guitar specifically for the role). Streep told USA Today that Springfield was "endlessly kind and patient" despite her repeated playing mistakes, but Springfield himself said that Streep looked like a total natural with a guitar onstage. Perhaps more importantly, the pair look totally natural onstage together — showing that this real Rick was the perfect choice to complement Streep's fictional Ricki.
Hmmmm, Rick and Ricki...sounds like a pretty good name for a sequel!
Images: TriStar, Giphy