AT THE GREEK THEATER, LOS ANGELES, WITH FIVE MARSHALL full-stacks behind him, screaming fans mobbing the barricade in front of him, and flash pots igniting all around him, Lenny Widegren is living the rock and roll dream. But while it sure looks like he’s playing the thundering guitar parts you hear, his guitar is not even plugged in. The band’s lead singer is actor Russell Brand, the entire concert is a movie set for Brand’s new comedy, Get Him to the Greek, and Widegren has been hired to sideline.
“Sidelining is a combination of playing and acting,” says Widegren, who, in real life, is the guitarist for Decadently Wasted, as well as an instructor at GIT in Hollywood. The guitar parts he is miming were written and prerecorded by composer/guitarist Lyle Workman, who has chosen Widegren for his ability to fool even other guitar players into believing he’s playing the parts, and for his ability to look like a rock star.
“You have to learn the music verbatim, so it looks real on film,” says Widegren. “The challenge is bringing that live stage energy over and over during long, all-day shoots with actors, crew, and cameras around you. You also have to be okay with them adapting your image however they see fit. And you have to be ready for the whiskey that the singer pours down your throat to actually be iced tea.”