"Red Rocket" Goes "tick...tick...Boom!"
  • Friday, Jan. 14, 2022
Andrew Garfield (l) and Alexandra Shipp in a scene from "tick...tick...Boom! (photo by Macall Polay/courtesy of Netflix)

In a pandemic-induced era of uncertainty, there’s much to be said for persevering as reflected in this week’s installment of SHOOT's The Road To Oscar Series.

In its coverage of writer-director Sean Baker's Red Rocket, SHOOT referenced an AFI Fest actors’ roundtable in which Simon Rex recalled Baker telephoning him out of the blue about Red Rocket. At the time Rex said his Hollywood career was at a low ebb, describing himself as “halfway out the door in this business.” Instead Baker helped Rex to knock that proverbial door wide open, casting him as washed up porn star Mikey Saber.

Now Rex, who felt like he was on the edge of a professional precipice, has been thrust into awards season relevance. Among the recognition he’s earned thus far are Best Actor distinction from the L.A. Film Critics, as well as Independent Spirit and Gotham Award nominations.

Meanwhile cinematographer Alice Brooks, ASC is in our Road To Oscar Series on the strength of her work on tick...tick...Boom!, which came on the heels of her lensing In The Heights. Tick...tick...Boom! marked the feature directorial debut of Lin-Manual Miranda, an adaptation of Jonathan Larson’s autobiographical musical show dealing with the pressures of being an artist, in this case sacrificing much of one’s personal life to craft a successful musical. The film pays tribute to Larson (played by Andrew Garfield) whose artistic struggles ultimately yielded the Broadway hit Rent, a success he never lived to see. 

“This movie is about a man who doesn’t give up his dreams no matter what,” said Brooks who revealed, “For me, there were so many times that I wanted to give up. Making movies is not an easy business. Six months before Jon (Chu) called me to shoot In The Heights, I felt like I was done. It felt like a moment in the movie (tick...tick...Boom!) where Jonathan goes to his friend Michael and asks that he get him a job in advertising. I remember my husband saying wait six months and if you feel the same, we’ll seek something else out. But there are lessons to be learned from Jonathan’s life. This is a movie for anyone who has a dream and it constantly feels there is no way forward. You endure no matter what. You take punches and keep getting up. You start your day all over again. This story is so personal. It feels universally personal.”

Robert Goldrich is editor of SHOOT.

MySHOOT Company Profiles