Return to Cherie Currie
Back in harmony: Jett and Currie boost "The Runaways"
By Tim Campbell

January 27, 2010

By Colin Covert

Park City, Utah
Joan Larkin “was told by my parents I could do anything I wanted. So I wanted to be an astronaut or an archaeologist.” At least until she heard the proto-punk music of Suzy Quattro and Gary Glitter. Then she changed her name to Joan Jett, fought with the high school music teacher who informed her girls don’t play electric guitar, and became the driving force behind L.A.’s first all-girl rock band, and eventually a feminist icon.

Jett’s groundbreaking exploits are the subject of “The Runaways,” a rock drama that chronicles the band’s rowdy life on the road in the ‘70s and the love-hate-rivalry relationship between Jett and lead singer Cherie Currie (played by “Twilight” costars Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning.)
Jett and Currie, who had been on the outs for 25 years, came to the Sundance Film Festival (in separate limos) to promote the movie (separately.) Jett and her current band The Blackhearts played a concert in Park City to celebrate the film’s premiere; Currie joined her onstage to say a brief hello.

The indie film dramatizes The Runaways’ rocky path to the top of the rockpile and its bruising fall. Most of what’s onscreen is based on reality, both rockers agreed. A scene where a surly, anonymous hair band refuses to let the girls get a sound check was based on a real life run-in with Rush, Jett said. “Then they sat by the side of the stage and laughed at us.”

Currie’s memoir “Neon Angel” served as the basis for the screenplay, and she sometimes wondered why “reality wasn’t good enough” for the film, which shifts timelines and combines characters for dramatic effect. Jett, an executive producer of the film, was on set every day as an advisor, helping Stewart nail her Marykand drawl and guitar licks.

Jett and Currie agreed that the film gets the big picture right, dealing frankly with issues of addiction and excess backstage. Currie endorsed the movie’s portrait of her as a 15-year-old moving from a broken home to a dysfunctional substitute family in a teenage rock band.

As for a controversial scene of Stewart and Fanning locking lips at length, Currie said, it honestly represents an era when David Bowie and Elton John had come out and bisexual experimentation was widespread.

Asked for her take on the love scene’s accuracy, Jett smirked and said, “I’m not a kiss-and-teller.”
Not all the Ex-Runaways are happy. Lita Ford, a sideline figure in the film, issued a statement denouncing the movie. “She’s a great guitar player, no one can take that away from her, but she’s an angry girl,” Currie said.

Bill Pohlad and Bob Berney's distribution house Apparition will roll out "The Runaways" in March as Jett releases a greatest hits double CD and kicks off a nationwide tour.