Rita Ryack spent several weeks tangling with Tom Cruise's leather pants. The costume designer for the upcoming 1980s musical "Rock of Ages" (opening June 15) was instrumental in Cruise's conversion into the fictional rock icon Stacee Jaxx, a self-involved guitar-playing idol in the vein of Guns N' Roses frontman Axl Rose. The coyote-fur jacket, the jewel-encrusted codpiece and the custom-made cowboy hat did wonders in transforming the normally strait-laced Cruise into a drug-addled performer with more in common with Mick Jagger than Ethan Hunt.
But it was the hand-stitched pants that proved the most trying component of the outré costume. Every time Cruise performed a rendition of Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar on Me," the pants would stretch out and lose their rocker slickness.
"We had a distresser standing by who would hand him his next pair, take the ones Cruise wore, dry them, shrink them up again and re-age them," said Ryack. "We had lots of pairs."
Beyond the Cruise transformation, Ryack was charged with turning Alec Baldwin into an aging hippie, Paul Giamatti into a cheesy music manager andMary J. Blige into a jumpsuit-wearing '80s diva without making it too costumey, per the instructions of director Adam Shankman ("Hairspray").