Joe Elliott says that DEF LEPPARD's 2001 biopic was a "low-budget experiment that wasn't really great."
"Hysteria - The Def Leppard Story" was produced by VH1 and was described as "the true story of one of the most successful pop-metal bands of the '80s." Upon its release, it was slammed by Deseret News music editor Scott Iwasaki as a "lame" movie which reduced the DEF LEPPARD bandmembers to "one-dimensional caricatures." Iwasaki added: "If the film weren't based on a real band, I'd swear it was supposed to be the sequel to Rob Reiner's 1984 mockumentary 'This Is Spinal Tap'."
In a brand new interview with SiriusXM's "Trunk Nation", Elliott was asked if he was open to making a LEPPARD biopic in the style of QUEEN's mega-successful "Bohemian Rhapsody" and Elton John's "Rocketman". He responded: "I wouldn't say no to it. You've got to remember the one that was done for us was 20 years ago. It was such a non-event. In the history of music, people weren't doing movies on bands; there hadn't been a biopic on THE [ROLLING] STONES or THE BEATLES, so for VH1 to decide to do one on us, because they wanted to pick on the humanistic story of [drummer] Rick's [Allen] recovery, it only went as far as 1986, you've gotta remember, so Steve [Clark] was still a very big part of the band. It was low budget. It was an experiment on VH1's part. We had barely any say in what they did… They were trying to rush the storyline so much that they had Phil [Collen] in the band for the 'High 'N' Dry' tour. And I said, 'You can't do that. You'll be slaughtered by our fans. You have to change it.' Other than that, it was shot in Canada, so everything was on the wrong side of the road. It was 20 years ago. It was an experiment that wasn't really great. Things have moved a long way since then. The QUEEN movie set a precedent that's gonna be pretty hard to top. A billion dollars at the box office is insane. I mean, that's bigger than [James] Bond movies. The Elton [John biopic] did incredibly well. [MÖTLEY CRÜE's] 'The Dirt' did really, really well.
"If somebody comes to us one day and says that they wanna do it, we're not gonna stop them," he continued. "Because now there's such a standard set that it would have to match those three movies that we mentioned. So it would be a much, much better version of what that story was. The story is gonna be the same. There's probably a million biopics about certain presidents, like, say, [John F.] Kennedy. And they all have the assassination thing shot from a different angle, but it's essentially the same story. With us, it's gonna be the same story. Band forms in Sheffield, has some success, drummer loses his arm, has some more success, guitarist loses his life, band carries on, and we basically hang in there as best we can to promote what we are. Yeah, it could make a good film. I personally, as a human being, think that LYNYRD SKYNYRD have got one way over everybody else when it comes to personal tragedy, so they would be above us, in my estimation, as the necessity for a film being made about yet another rock band; they really did have it tough. But, yeah, you never say never. We're not gonna fund one ourselves, but if Pixar or Disney or somebody decided they wanted to do it, we would embrace it the same way we ended up embracing the [Rock And Roll] Hall Of Fame."
In 2014, Flavorwire called "Hysteria - The Def Leppard Story" "one of the most unintentionally funny biopics VH1 has ever put out," saying it "features some terrible acting, awful special effects when it comes to Rick Allen's car accident, and uneven pacing, ultimately resulting in something of a rock 'n' roll PSA."
Last year, Elliott addressed the significant inaccuracies that appear in "Hysteria - The Def Leppard Story", which was filmed in Canada, saying that much of it was out of the band's control. "The road markings were all wrong," he told Planet Rock. "I mean, the opening scene, I think, has got 'Sheffield 1 mile, London 46.' I was five-foot-eight in the film. I'm six-one. Phil [Collen, guitar] was Australian. Rick's mom was Irish. My parents had a dog — wrong. And my dad was bald. My dad watched it and he went, 'I've got more bloody hair than that.' I think they got Rick Savage [bass] pretty well; I thought that was pretty good. The very ending was not bad. But they didn't really consult us much. I did script doctor it to a point, but then they would actually script doctor my script doctoring, because they wanted it to fit their budget and all this kind of stuff, so we kind of just went, 'Whatever.'"
Elliott didn't completely pan the film, explaining that DEF LEPPARD was pleasantly surprised to be the subject of a biopic at a time when biographical movies about bands were few and far between.
"Looking at the positive on it, if there is one, the fact that they actually made a film about us in 2000 is quite cool, because by then, there was no films on THE BEATLES, there was no films on THE [ROLLING] STONES, but they wanted to make one of us," he said. "And when it got previewed on VH1, eight million people watched it on its first run. And strangely enough, it actually got pretty positive reviews. So, with hindsight, I think we should maybe go back and look at that again."
DEF LEPPARD was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in March — 14 years after the British rockers first became eligible.
The 34th annual ceremony took place at Brooklyn, New York's Barclays Center and saw DEF LEPPARD inducted by QUEEN's Brian May.