Steven Tyler’s film work typically comes on the soundtrack, but the iconic rocker is stepping in front of the camera for a role in the thriller “Happy Birthday.”
The film, which will be available Friday on VOD, features two friends (Matt Bush and Riley Litman) who have a crazy, drunken weekend in Mexicali, Mexico, which takes a dangerous, possibly lethal turn.
Tyler plays Kasape Suka, one of the crazy characters they meet along the way.
amNewYork spoke with Tyler about the role.
How do you know writer/director Casey Tebo, and what do you like about him as a filmmaker?
Casey walked into the Aerosmith studios one day over 10 years ago, hell bent on doing whatever he could to get him to the point of making movies, and he knew he could use us as a catalyst. ... Trying to do something for a band as big as ours is hard, you have labels, managers, wives ... so many opinions. So after a few years, he learned how it all worked politically and did the smart thing by making a concert film — “Rock for the Rising Sun” — and didn’t tell anyone until it was finished. He avoided all the possible roadblocks, and that’s what I admire. Joe Perry and I always dare people to fail. It’s a game we play: “Dare to suck.” He dared many times, and now he has his first movie coming out. ... So, if someone called him after “Happy Birthday” came out to make a superhero movie with a huge budget, he wouldn’t blink an eye. He’s not scared. That’s what I love about him as a filmmaker and a friend.
Casey wrote the role of Kasape Suka for you. How do you feel inhabiting this character?
It was an absolute blast. When I go on stage, no matter how tired or sick I am, I have to be me. People want to see that guy. When I did “Be Cool” with F. Gary Gray, I was still me, I was playing Steven Tyler, you know? But with “Happy Birthday,” it was something totally different. Sure, there’s bits of me, but there are also bits of Robert Downey Jr. in Tony Stark, know what I mean? ... Sometimes characters and the people who play them have things in common. Like Charlize Theron playing Furiosa in “Mad Max.” You know there’s a part of her that’s a complete badass, but could other actresses sell that? I’m not so sure. But I can sell crazy shaman all day.
In the film, your character says, “I believe anything worth doing is worth overdoing.” Does that mentality align to your own life as well?
Google “Steven Tyler quotes” and you’ll find those exact words.