How Def Leppard’s VH1 Biopic Became ‘Biggest Pile of S— Ever Made’
Joe Elliott said he feared no one would want to make a biopic about Def Leppard following the 2001 TV movie that he called “the biggest pile of shit ever made.”
Produced by VH1, Hysteria – The Def Leppard Story was described as “the true story of one of the most successful pop-metal bands of the ‘80s.” It followed the group through the firing of Pete Willis and the hiring of Phil Collen, Rick Allen’s car crash, Steve Clark’s addiction issues and the making of blockbuster album Hysteria.
The heavily dramatized script contained significant inaccuracies, however, including the suggestion that Allen was on drugs when he crashed his car, that he appeared on the band’s 1979 debut EP, that producer Mutt Lange had no part in the writing of “Pour Some Sugar on Me” and others.
Because it was filmed in Canada, the depiction of the band’s English industrial hometown of Sheffield was portrayed inaccurately. One reviewer said it was “goof-laden” from the opening scene, even before “the bad lip-syncing, corny studio confrontations and appalling wigs had made their introductions.”
Watch the Trailer for 'Hysteria – The Def Leppard Story’
The movie also featured adjusted versions of Def Leppard tracks, including a complete re-recording of the early track “Getcha Rocks Off,” with changes made by session musicians rather than the band members themselves.
Elliott said those missteps probably wrecked Def Leppard's chances of having their own biopic in the style of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, Motley Crue’s The Dirt and Elton John’s Rocketman.
“We were subjects of a VH1 movie 20 years ago that was the biggest pile of shit ever made,” he told Rolling Stone ahead of Def Leppard’s 2019 induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. “I doubt very much anybody would be really interesting in making another one. We’ll see. We’re open to anything. Somebody comes along because ‘we want to make a movie about you guys,’ why not?”
Of course, it’s possible the band’s current profile and longevity could still attract the attention of filmmakers. Asked how they’d managed to secure those successes, guitarist Phil Collen explained that "it’s because we have this integrity. We never stopped actually in the 40-odd years that the band’s together. We just keep going through thick and thin – all the bad stuff, good stuff."