A few years ago, film director Timothy Scott Bogart was watching a video of Jeremy Jordan doing a cabaret show, as one does. But it wasn't Jordan's poppy Broadway tenor voice that caught his attention. It was Jordan's skills with storytelling. His mix of charm and self-deprecation reminded Bogart of his father, Neil Bogart, the founder of Casablanca Records and the subject of his new film biopic Spinning Gold.
"So he called me and was like, 'I think you're perfect for this role,'" Jordan tells Playbill. "He kind of wooed me. It's very unconventional, but I'm very grateful for it because I didn't have to jump through a million audition hoops."
Jordan does indeed ooze charm as Neil Bogart in Spinning Gold, which releases in theatres March 31. The movie charts the record executive's life and career from his own young dreams to be a professional singer, through the debt-laden start of Casablanca and its eventual success, to his untimely death at age 39. Through Casablanca, Bogart signed music legends Kiss, Donna Summer, Village People, and Parliament (with George Clinton).
"He wanted to be a showman. He wanted to be on the stage or on the screen or in the album, but it just never worked out for him. So, he ended up behind the scenes," says Jordan. "The beautiful thing about the movie is that we tell it in a way that he gets to embellish on his personal life story and add himself in moments where he gets to be the star." Neil often breaks the fourth wall in the film, turning straight to the camera to tell his own story.
Spinning Gold has a very theatrical, larger-than-life feel that is sure to please Broadway fans. "Tim, the writer-director, is a huge Broadway fan," reveals Jordan. "We were always talking about how to musicalize moments." According to Jordan, they wanted the film to feel like a stage show that just happened to be filmed: "It's all this sort of play within [Neil's] mind."
That theatricality is fitting because, fun fact, Neil Bogart was actually a Broadway producer at one point in his eclectic career. In 1981, he helped bring The First to the stage (this isn't depicted in Spinning Gold). The short-run musical starred David Alan Grier as Jackie Robinson, the first Black baseball player to play in the Major League. Check out Bogart's Playbill bio below, which also name-dropped Cher and Robin Williams.
For Jordan's part, he admits to having his own rock star dreams growing up. And Broadway dreams. And movie star dreams. "I'm still working on the rock star dream part," he says. But Spinning Gold is definitely checking movie star boxes. Jordan is at least tangential leading a rock biopic that features a cast studded with some of today's hottest music makers, including Jason Derulo, Wiz Khalifa, Ledisi, and Tayla Parx. (And not to get too Broadway about it, but Jordan did, coincidentally, make his Main Stem debut in Rock of Ages...)
Fellow Broadway fellow Casey Likes, who made his debut this season in Almost Famous, costars in the film as a young Gene Simmons, the Demon bass player from the rock spectacle band Kiss. Jordan promises that in real life, Likes is the opposite of the "very angsty rock-and-roll dude" he is onscreen. (Watch a clip of Jordan and Likes here—there's no Kiss makeup, but there is some very '70s hair happening for both.)
And while Jordan is off fulfilling his movie- and rock-star dreams, Broadway will wait for his return. But in the meantime, we'll have to buy movie tickets.