Rick Springfield juggles music, movies in hectic career
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BY TRICIA DESPRES | FOR THE SUN-TIMES
Rick Springfield just made out with Oscar winner Meryl Streep. And if that doesn’t get one to walk with a tad more swagger, what would?
Of course, Springfield has never lacked in the swagger department.
With special guests: Loverboy and The Romantics
When: 7 p.m., September 10
Where: FirstMerit Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island, 1300 South Linn White Drive, Chicago
Tickets: $19.50 – $89.50
Since slinging a guitar around his shoulders at the age of 12 in his native Australia, Springfield has filled his career with everything from hit songs such as ’80s favorite “Don’t Talk to Strangers” to his No. 1 hit “Jessie’s Girl” to acting roles on everything from “True Detective,” “Californication” and “Drop Dead Diva.”
Heck, he’s even a New York Times best-selling author.
But it’s his recent role in the movie “Ricki and the Flash” opposite Streep that really threw a loop in Springfield’s plans.
“I had to cancel an Australian tour to do the film, and I tweeted that if Meryl Streep had asked me to wash their cars I would have cancelled the tour AND brought my own bucket,” says Springfield during a recent interview via e-mail. “[Meryl] is very open and charming and doesn’t wear her status on her sleeve, and we both know, as actors, what it takes to make a relationship work on camera.”
Playing the role of an aging musician in the film wasn’t a huge stretch for Springfield, who spent a majority of the film actually playing the music he has loved over the years.
“The character I play [Greg] is the rock in a swirling mass of craziness,” says Springfield, whose son Josh worked as a production assistant on the movie. “And the music was a blast to do. [Director] Jonathan [Demme] wanted the music all played and sung live on set so they wanted an actor with some real guitar chops because he didn’t want any lip-synching or overdubbing. Plus they liked the chemistry between Meryl and me.”
Hence, the make-out session.
“Greg is a much more together, more tolerant and nicer guy than I am,” Springfield continues. “My wife Barbara, after seeing the movie at the premiere, said she likes Greg better than she likes me so that kind of says it all there. That’s the fun of acting. Playing a really nice guy and then playing a creepy dude like the one I played on ‘True Detective’. I get bored with myself so it’s great to be someone else for a while.”
Scheduled to play FirstMerit Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island on Sept. 10, Springfield says it’s nice to get back to performing in a town that has given him much in return.
“Chicago is my kind of town,” says Springfield, who is currently hard at work on another novel. “It’s the first city I visited after Los Angeles and New York when I first came here from Australia. It also gave me my wife and a decent part of my career so far. So all in all, not too bad. Plus it gave my son Josh his girlfriend, so we are batting a thousand, I think, Chicago and me.”
Springfield is currently working on a brand new album, titled “Rocket Science.”
“It’s always exciting to produce new music so that is always there and I always think ‘This is the best record I’ve ever done,’ but this one is REALLY the best one I’ve ever recorded,” Springfield says. “We are hoping for big things but also trying to manage our expectations because the music business is so weird now. I’m just happy and lucky to have an amazing fan base that wants to hear new music.”
“God is the only one who knows when I will retire,” Springfield continues. “I focus a lot on health and understand that there are certain things I wouldn’t be able to do if I weren’t healthy.”
Healthy enough to make out with Meryl Streep I suppose, huh?
“Look, my mum is 95 and still kicking butt, so I’m hoping for a few more productive decades.”
Tricia Despres is a local freelance writer.