Since MiG Ayesa is a rock musician and recording artist, you’d think playing rock star Stacee Jaxx in Broadway’s Rock of Ages wouldn’t be a stretch. But the self-professed "un-badass" Ayesa, who recently renewed his wedding vows with wife Simone de la Rue, never set out to be a musical theater star. After a big break in The Buddy Holly Story in his native Australia, Ayesa was scooped up by London producers for the show’s West End run and has been working ever since, in shows like We Will Rock You, Rent and Broadway’s Burn the Floor. He became an international name after coming in third on the reality TV competition Rock Star: INXS, then toured with Rock of Ages before coming to Broadway—and finding time to release his second album, More Than Ever. Broadway.com caught up with Ayesa to chat about his lack of rock-star-ness, his Tom Cruise encounter and his unusual name.
First things first: Explain your name.
[Laughs.] Ok, it’s really easy. My name is Miguel. People called me Miggie, so I adapted that, but a small g looked kind of insignificant. The capital G looks finished. It's also the same way they spell the Soviet fighter jet. I wanted to be an Air Force pilot as a kid so I know all about MiGs. Really geeky.
And very Top Gun. How does a geeky kid get into rock music?
I didn’t plan on a career in the arts. I fell in love with performing because as a kid I had a stutter, but when I would sing a song or say lines my stutter would disappear. I felt more normal on stage than off.
How did you break into acting?
During university I was working at a local movie house, $6 an hour making popcorn. My friend said, “I made 4,000 bucks doing this Coke commercial,” and I said, “Screw this popcorn shit, I want to do that!” I got an agent and tried to earn some money doing commercials, and then booked The Buddy Holly Story playing Ritchie Valens. I was 20 years old and all of a sudden I'm in a hit, I’m being flown to London to star in a show and play for the Queen. It was crazy.
Your resume is so eclectic: stage, rock music, reality TV. What part of your career surprises people most?
People are surprised to see me as Stacee Jaxx, because he’s so far away from who I am. As much as I’d love to say I’m a bad boy badass, I’m a married man with a white fluffy dog. People who knew me before Rock Star: INXS were incredibly surprised to see me on that show. I didn’t tell anyone about it, so the first time they found out was on TV.
Why did you keep it a secret?
I signed a confidentiality contract so I wasn’t allowed to say anything, or they’d sue my ass. Also I was kind of afraid of reality TV and how the show would be perceived. I could have been eliminated in the first episode and I didn’t want people to see that! So I kept my mouth shut and people found out and were shocked.
Did you draw from particular rock stars when creating your Stacee Jaxx?
My Stacee is an amalgation of Axl Rose, Jon Bon Jovi, David Lee Roth, Sebastian Bach, Bret Michaels. My Stacee also has a British accent—it might be a fake British accent—so I’ve thrown in a bit of Keith Richards, a bit of Mick Jagger, a bit of Russell Brand and a bit of Austin Powers. It goes everywhere, baby!
What’s your favorite thing about the role?
You can never go too far with Stacee. Rock ‘n’ roll in the 1980s was all about completely insane, excessive behavior, and Stacee is the epitome of all that. The great thing is, I don’t have to answer to anyone. I get to be the rock star I was always afraid to be.
Afraid to be?
You act like that in normal life and you’re going to lose your audience, go to prison or get divorced. Or get some kind of venereal disease. But if you’re on stage it’s all ok. It’s just acting, and you can still be the guy who goes home to his wife. On stage is the only time I can get away with murder. Literally. But the moral of the story of Rock of Ages is: If you act like Stacee Jaxx, you end up sleeping with llamas in Uruguay. So be careful. Unless you like llamas. Then go for it.
Are you stoked to be sharing a part with Tom Cruise [who plays Stacee Jaxx in the Rock of Ages film]?
I was his first Stacee Jaxx, and I’m very proud of that. On his first day of rehearsal, he saw the show in L.A., so I met him backstage and we talked a bit about the part. He was so gracious, and I hear he’s doing amazing stuff with the movie. When I met him, I said, “My God, it’s like looking into a mirror!” And I also told Katie Holmes, “Technically this wouldn’t be cheating.”
How’d that go over?
Well, I said it in my mind. Can you imagine if she’d slapped me across the face? See, just another example of how I’m not Stacee Jaxx. If I was a badass I would have said it.