Hello- September 19 2000
"Rock Star turned actor Jon Bon Jovi
talks about his leap from stadium to screen - and why despite his heart-throb
status he's only ever loved one woman. "I think of my wife Dorothea as my
best friend, my lover, and the coolest girl to be with."
Wembley Stadium as we know it hosted its last-ever concert this summer. But if it was a goodbye to the world famous venue, the band that sold out the final night, Bon Jovi, proved that after a five-year absence they could still rock the crowd.
The supergroup has sold over 80 million albums, has a world tour in progress, and both a new album Crush and a new single Say It Isn't So. But at 38, its charismatic lead singer, Jon Bon Jovi, admits he is more invigorated by his work on-screen than on-stage holding a microphone.
Born John Francis Bongiovi at Perth Amboy, New Jersey, on March 2 1962, his film career started in 1995 with Moonlight and Valentino, and the gift actor has gone on to appear in seven more movies as well as TV cameo roles including a forthcoming spot in his favourite show The Sopranos. Earlier this summer, he starred in U-571, a thriller set during the Second World War about the mission to capture the top secret Enigma Nazi coding devince from a German submarine. When the film was screened at the Venice Film Festival earlier this month, Jon took part in the two-minute silence to remember the victims of the Kursk Russian submarine tragedy.
Intensely private, preferring to spend his quiet hours at home in New Jersey, Jon took some time in Los Angeles to talk to Hello about music, acting, and life with his family: wife Dorothea, and their two children Stephanie Rose and Jesse James.
Where did you and Dorothea meet?
"In high school. I fell in love as soon as I saw her. We got married on April 29 1989 and our children have only strengthened our bond. I can proudly say that I've never loved any woman other than Dorothea."
So you are still as madly in love as ever?
"Dorothea brings me so much happiness. She is very together and incredibly focused and intelligent. I think of her as my best friend, my lover, and the coolest girl to be with."
Are you a good father?
"I think so. My kids are incredibly cool, happy and wonderful, so I must be doing something right."
Do they realise their father is a famous rock star?
"When we're at home, I'm not the star, they are. But they do know that their father makes movies. The fact they see me as a movie star, not a rock'n'roll star, makes me laugh."
Do they ever comment on your acting?
"When my daughter sees a love scene in one of my movies, she always says "Daddy, don't kiss that girl, she's not Mommy!" It's a little strange for her to see me kissing another woman."
Would you like them to follow in your footsteps?
"I would encourage them regardless of what they choose to do, whether it's music, acting or being a street-sweeper. My parents encouraged me and that was half the battle of becoming a successful musician."
Do you have any plans to retire from the music business and concentrate solely on acting?
"I get paid really well with the music. So until I can't make that much money with a movie, I'm not going to retire. But I will be scaling back the tours. Where we used to perform 250 shows a year, I would like to do maybe 50. And not so much so I can pursue acting, but so I can spend more time with my family."
Is music your big passion in life?
"No, acting is. Music is my profession."
Which of the two do you find easier?
"Music, because it's still you up there on the stage. Acting is harder as you have to play different personalities. But I find it very therapeutic."
When you were a kid, did you dream of becoming a rock star?
"Yes, like every other kid, I wanted to be a star. It was silly, of course, but when you're ten you're not aware that so few musicians are successful."
Why did you jump from music to film?
"In 1990 I won a Golden Glboe for Blaze of Glory, a song I'd written for the movie Young Guns II. I remember being so happy to have participated, even in such a small way, in a movie. That same night I took the decision to study acting. Five years later I became an actor in Moonlight and Valentino. That first time was frightening, but I stood my ground."
You worked with Harvey Keitel in U-571, and for your next film Pay It Forward, you act alongside Oscar winners Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt. Do you ever get intimidated by these critically acclaimed actors?
"I don't claim to be anywhere near where they are on the ladder, but I'm not intimidated by their presence anymore either. I feel as confident as any actor on the set."
What is the movie U-571 about?
"It's a tale based on true events that transpired during the Battle of the Atlantic in 1942 - the capture of a German sub by the British Royal Navy, which had a huge impact on the war."
What attracted you to this project?
"I loved the script as soon as I read it. U-571 has not only a great storyline, but also a lot of action and suspense."
What role do you play?
"I'm Lieutenant Pete Emmett, one of the officers."
Most of the film takes place on a submarine.
"Especially frightening for someone like me who is claustrophobic. When I got the call that I'd won the role, I looked up to heaven and said "Thank You" and then I thought to myself "What have I done? I must be crazy to accept a story that will be shot in a submarine!"
Did it pose any problems for you?
"There was one scene where I was in this tiny box. The film crew knew I was claustrophobic so they put a light in there. Well, that light exploded and started a fire, I jumped out of there like a jackrabbit!"
What did you do when they weren't shooting?
"I was writing songs, reading books, just getting to know myself. It's really rare that I'm ever truly alone. I'm either with the band, or the hundred people that work for me, or my family. So I took advantage of being by myself and learned to appreciate solitude."
How did it feel to put on those naval uniforms?
"Wonderful. We wanted to make anyone who has served, not only in the Second World War, but in any of the conflicts since, proud. I have great respect for all the sailors who fought for their country, I can tell you that."
Were you a little sceptical about having your long hair cut so short for the film?
"I wanted a crew cut! But, historically, submariners didn't have their hair cut really short. They were allowed to have longer hair, moustaches and beards. These guys had sideburns before Elvis made them famous!"
Has your success as an actor surprised you?
"Very much so. I dreamed about it, but I was also pessimistic. Especially when my agent, lawyer, manager and accountant were all against me becoming an actor. But there's no turning back now. Much to the chagrin of my record label and my band, I'm addicted to acting."
When you decided to pursue acting, were you taken seriously at first?
"I could hear the directors and producers saying "Oh another rock star wants to be in the movies! But in seven films, I think I've proven that I can contribute to the success of a movie. And what's funny is that my music has never been popular with the critics, but has made a lot of money. And my films, up to U-571, haven't made a lot of money but the film critics seem to love me."
Who has inspired you the most?
"Frank Sinatra. He toured until he was 80 and made over 60 movies. With our current album, Crush, we'll have put out eight. And I'm on my eighth movie. So I've a long way to go. But if I can find credibility in music AND film, I'll have the best of both worlds."
What other singers do you listen to?
"Always the same - Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen. They are the best."
Finally, what in your life are you most proud of?
"That I didn't spend my fortune on cocaine. That I've never replaced Dorothea with some top model. That I bought a magnificent house in New Jersey, where I was born. and that I have the greatest family in the world, who I ador