June 18, 2012

Singer and actor Diego Boneta is already famous in his native Mexico City for his turn on the soap opera Rebelde and the two hit albums he’s released, ‘Diego’ and ‘Indigo’. He made his stateside splash with guest-starring spots on 90210 and Pretty Little Liars, but it’s his lead role in the film adaptation of the Broadway hit Rock of Ages opposite big-screen heavyweights like Tom Cruise, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Alec Baldwin that might cement his status as Hollywood’s next heartthrob. Here he is on his new film, and why drinking laws in America don’t quite make sense.

As much as it’s a musical, do you think Rock of Ages is–at its core–about good and evil?
In some ways, yeah. I think it’s more about following your dreams or following other people’s dreams instead. There’s definitely some good and evil moments involved, where our characters need to make a choice of whether to follow our hearts or to go for the money and instant fame. For example, my character starts out as a ‘rock star,’ singing all these rock songs with long hair and everything, and then Paul Giammatti, who’s one of the villains, turns me into a frickin’ boy band! He cuts my hair and I look like Marky Mark, completely against who I am. My character needs to make the choice of whether to stick with that, or go back to how things were. It’s not that things are necessarily going bad as a boy band. But it’s more a following your heart kind of thing, which is something we all deal with in our everyday lives.

What was your relationship with this music before you even got involved with the project?
Ever since I was eight years old, my parents would only listen to U2 and Queen and The Police. Growing up, those were my favorite bands. I was listening to other bands from that time like the Stones and Foreigner and Journey. I saw all of the songs that were in the movie and I knew every single one of them.

What’s a sin that shouldn’t really be considered one?
Having fun with your girlfriend, or girls, or your boyfriend, all that stuff. I don’t know why it’s even a sin, as long as you’re careful and you protect yourself and do it for the right reasons, you know, not hurting anyone or being an asshole about it. To say that sex in general is a sin, it’s like, come on, man! If it’s for the right reasons and you’re not being a d-bag about it and hurting people along the way—you know, work hard, play hard, man!

What do you think is something that in 20-50 years time will no longer be considered a sin?
This is very delicate ground, and I don’t want to get in everyone’s business or anything, but me being raised in Latin America with a Spanish background and my dad being Mexican—one of the big things that is a huge deal here that was really hard for me to understand was alcohol. Here it’s like, you can’t drink until you’re 21 and you can go to war when you’re 18, and down there, I’d have a glass of wine at Christmas or half a glass in front of my parents at a birthday dinner, and growing up with that I knew that it’s not bad as long as you’re responsible. When I first moved here I was underage and all my friends were like, Hey man, my parents are out of town! We can get wasted on beer! I was just like, That’s not really my thing. When I was living in Mexico, even in New York, where things are a bit more open-minded, I was going out to clubs when I was under eighteen with my friends, because that’s what people do there. Same thing in Europe. You’re sixteen and you’re having a glass of wine and people don’t look at it as a taboo because they know their limits. They know you’ve gotta be careful with it. So that’s something that I hope people get a little more flexible over.

Why do you think there’s that gap?
I think a lot of it has to do with culture. I don’t want to talk bad about why America’s not that way, or why families here are different. I think it just has to do with culture and the way you grew up. The states are very open-minded with a lot of things. That’s just one there’s very little tolerance for. And I’m not saying, Hey, go and be an alcoholic and drink and party when you’re fifteen. That’s not my point. But it’s like, hey, if you can go do other stuff when you’re eighteen, like go to war, you should at least be able to celebrate with a beer.

Most Relatable Sinner?
Sisyphus, the greek king whose avarice was punished when he was condemned to push a huge boulder uphill for eternity. “I’m used to doing that all the time since training for Paradise Lost. [Production on the Alex Proyas–helmed adaptation of Milton’s epic poem has since been shut down indefinitely.] I had to gain 15 pounds of muscle in six weeks and keep my body fat in single digits.”

Least Appealing Sin?
Mediocrity. “I think not following your dreams, not sticking to your gut, and not following what you want to do is a big sin. It’s one of the deadliest ones, and it’s an easy sin to indulge.”

Photography by Grant Thomas

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