The Dirt, the Netflix movie based on the true story of how Mötley Crüe came together, traces the metal band’s global impact and popularity in the 1980s and beyond all the way back to their origins as, yes, a motley crew of musicians in L.A. in the early ’80s.
Based on The Dirt: Confessions of the World’s Most Notorious Rock Band, the joint memoir from band members Tommy Lee, Nikki Sixx, Vince Neil, Mick Mars, and Neil Strauss, the Netflix version of things glosses over certain aspects of the band’s story, even as it does accurately portray the hotel-trashing antics of the “world’s most notorious band.” Not only has the validity of some claims made in the movie have been up for debate, but there are also some faces missing from the story (for example, Pamela Anderson, ex-wife of Lee, is nowhere to be found, nor is Mötley Crüe’s original lead singer, O’Dean Peterson). Still, the Jeff Tremaine-directed film, which took years to make, finally presents a version of the story as written by the band members themselves.
And the figures that are included in the movie were, for the most part, appropriately cast. We meet, of course, the members of Mötley Crüe, but viewers also get to see versions of Ozzy Osbourne, Heather Locklear, and David Lee Roth. These key characters are played by a mixture of familiar faces — like Machine Gun Kelly and Pete Davidson as Lee and a record company exec, respectively — and some new-ish ones, all doing their best imitations of the iconic bad boy members and hangers-on of the band that shaped the idea of “sex, drugs, and rock and roll.”
Here, a guide to who plays who, where you’ve seen them before, and how accurately they matched the faces of the rock stars they played.
Colson Baker, AKA Machine Gun Kelly, as Tommy Lee
The tatted-up rapper plays Tommy Lee, Mötley Crüe’s tatted-up drummer. Before Lee cut his hair short, as the drummer for a hair metal band, he had a serious head of hair. Baker donned a messy black wig and squeezed into some tight pants to match his look to that of the drummer’s.
Douglas Booth as Nikki Sixx
Douglas Booth, also known as the Romeo to Hailee Steinfeld‘s Juliet in Carlo Carlei’s 2013 adaptation of the Bard’s work, plays Nikki Sixx, the opiate-addicted bassist (and primary songwriter) for Mötley Crüe.
Iwan Rheon as Mick Mars
Iwan Rheon has made a name for himself by getting involved in cult projects like Misfits and Game of Thrones, but in The Dirt, he plays Mick Mars, the lead guitarist for Mötley Crüe. Mars was also the oldest member of the band.
Daniel Webber as Vince Neil
Daniel Webber has already played the infamous Lee Harvey Oswald on J.J. Abrams’s JFK assassination miniseries, 11.22.63, and he’s also already been a member of the Netflix family for a while, as he starred as Lewis Wilson in Marvel’s The Punisher. But in order to play Vince Neil, Mötley Crüe’s lead singer who had a habit of jumping all over the stage during performances, a key component of preparing for this limber-bodied role could have come from Webber’s past as an Olympic trampolinist.
Pete Davidson as Tom Zutaut
You know Pete Davidson: He’s an SNL main player, Ariana Grande’s ex, and Kate Beckinsale’s current younger man. In The Dirt, he plays Tom Zutaut, the A&R executive that helps Mötley Crüe get their big break in the recording industry. The real-life Zutaut was blonde and portly in the 1980s and 1990s, so this is perhaps a stretch casting-wise. (This isn’t the only movie co-starring Davidson and Baker, either; the two will appear in Big Time Adolescence, which had its world premiere at Sundance Film Festival in January 2019).
Rebekah Graf as Heather Locklear
While Pamela Anderson may be noticeably absent from the story of The Dirt, Lee’s second wife Heather Locklear makes an appearance, as portrayed by Rebekah Graf. (Lee’s current real-life wife, Vine star Brittany Furlan, also makes a cameo in the film.)
Tony Cavalero as Ozzy Osbourne
Ozzy Osbourne toured with Mötley Crüe in 1984, and the things that went down on this cavalcade through the country went down in infamy as one of the most depraved tours of the decade. It’s all in the book: Hotels were trashed, ants were supposedly snorted by Osbourne (though the validity of this statement was later denied by the musician himself), and audiences were flashed by various members of the band. For this role, The Dirt cast Tony Cavalero, known for playing music teacher Mr. Finn on Nickelodeon’s School of Rock television series (that’s the Jack Black role from the original film version, in case you forgot).
Christian Gehring as David Lee Roth
Van Halen’s David Lee Roth is portrayed by Christian Gehring (a regular on Schooled, the spin-off of ABC’s ’80s sitcom The Goldbergs).
Courtney Dietz as Athena Lee
The inclination towards music actually ran in the Lee family, as Tommy’s sister Athena became a drummer on her own (and can be seen in the film chastising her older brother for borrowing her skintight pants).