James Franco and Lenny Kravitz Try Not to Suck at Guitar Hero Live in New Ad

Playing to the unforgiving crowd

Headshot of Tim Nudd

One of the key features of the upcoming Guitar Hero Live is the real-time reaction of a live-action crowd, who'll tell you pretty quickly if you suck at lead guitar. And both Lenny Kravitz and James Franco don't exactly rip it up—at least in the early scenes—in this new commercial for the Activision game from 72andSunny.

Kravitz, as you'd expect, pulls himself together. But Franco, amusingly enough, never looks very comfortable in the spot—apparently, playing guitar is the one cool thing this cool actor can't fake. (And surely being told to "Kravitz it up a little" doesn't help.)

Franco and Kravitz were both reportedly fans of Guitar Hero, which made it easier for their enthusiasm on set to seem authentic and genuine.

"Guitar Hero Live gives you the chance to live out your rock star fantasy in front of a real audience that reacts to how you play, so watching James Franco and Lenny Kravitz challenging each other to win the crowd in the game brought that excitement to life in a really cool way," says Tim Ellis, CMO of Activision Publishing. "Some of the best moments we captured on film were purely spontaneous between James and Lenny. They had great chemistry and had a lot of fun with the game. We just let them loose."

Guitar Hero Live rolls out Oct. 20, returning from a five-year absence for the franchise. Check out the reveal trailer, and lots more about the game, here.


Brand: Guitar Hero, Activision

Chief Executive Officer: Eric Hirshberg

Chief Marketing Officer: Tim Ellis

Vice President, Consumer Marketing: Ian Trombetta

Senior Manager, Consumer Marketing: Orlando Baeza

Coordinator, Consumer Marketing: Jared Castle

Project: "Win the Crowd" Guitar Hero Live Launch Trailer

Agency: 72andSunny

Chief Creative Officer: Glenn Cole

Executive Creative Director: Bryan Rowles

Group Creative Director: Frank Hahn

Creative Director, Designer: Peter Vattanatham

Creative Director, Writer: Tim Wolfe

Lead Writer: Evan Brown

Senior Designer: Jon Hall

Writer: Ryan Iverson

Group Strategy Directors: John Graham, Bryan Smith

Senior Strategist: Hamish Cameron

Strategist: Jake Watt

Group Brand Director: Mike Parseghian

Brand Director: Torie Gleicher

Brand Manager: Sarah Donze

Brand Coordinator: Mariam Al-Hooty

Chief Production Officer: Tom Dunlap

Director of Film Production: Sam Baerwald

Executive Producer: Dan Ruth

Senior Film Producers: Kara Fromhart, Zeynep Taslica, Dave Stephenson

Director of Business Affairs: Michelle McKinney

Business Affairs Director: Alex Lebosq

Business Affairs Coordinator: Ashley Pesses

Production Company: Caviar

Director: Jonathan Krisel

Executive Producer: Michael Sagol

Director of Photography: Damian Acevedo

Head of Production: Kelly Bowen

Line Producer: Jeff Tanner

Editing: Rock, Paper, Scissors

Editor, GH LIVE: David Brodie, Gabriel Britz

Editor, GHTV: Carlos Arias

Post Producer: Dina Ciccotello

Recording, Mixing: Lime Studios

Audio Mixer: Zac Fisher

Audio Assistant: Kevin McAlpine

Executive Producer: Susie Boyajan

Visual Effects, Online: Method

Senior Flame Artist: Thomas Downs

Producer: Sumer Zuberi

Telecine: CO3

Colorist: Siggy Ferstl

Producer: Matt Moran

@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.