A young, passionate musician will stop at nothing until she fulfills her dream of becoming a rock star. This sounds a lot like Molly McGuire, played by leading lady Fiona Flanagan in November’s Movie of the Month, Hearts of Fire, but this is also Fiona’s story in real life. Flanagan was a young girl from New Jersey with a dream of becoming a rock singer. After hearing Aerosmith for the first time at the age of 15, she fell in love with Steven Tyler’s vocals and decided she would stop at nothing until she was a successful vocalist herself. In the early 80s, an 18-year-old Fiona moved to New York City to pursue her dream of becoming a famous singer. She played shows in small clubs until she landed a record deal in 1985. Her debut album, self-titled Fiona, contained her first hit single, “Talk to Me,” and the album’s sixth track, “Love Makes You Blind” was featured in the soundtrack for the film No Small Affair (a lesser known film starring Demi Moore and Jon Cryer). She may not have gained mainstream success with her first album, but she was definitely off to a good start considering how difficult the 80s music scene was. Pop-rock musicians were a dime a dozen, and one hit wonders were more abundant than ever.
Her second album, Beyond the Pale, came shortly after, and it achieved mediocre success. My favorite Fiona song, “Living in a Boys World,” is featured on this album, but most importantly, the music video for the album’s second track, “Hopelessly Love You,” is probably the strangest 80s music video I’ve ever seen. In the video, Fiona models several outrageous outfits, smashes cake before grabbing a goldfish with her bare hands, and bites a taillight on a pink car (among a number of other bizarre acts). At this point, Fiona was really making a name for herself, so it’s no surprise that she was scooped up to star in 1987’s Hearts of Fire.
Brandon explored Bob Dylan’s feelings (or lack thereof) about his role in Hearts of Fire in his article, Bob Dylan’s Indifference towards Hearts of Fire (1987), The Press, and Life in General, and I thought it would be interesting to know how Fiona felt about the movie. Of course, she was far more enthusiastic about her involvement with the film than Dylan, but she, like most people, overall thinks Hearts of Fire was a terrible film. In a 1998 interview with Bob’s Metal Show, she refers to Hearts of Fire as “that movie” in an attempt to avoid discussing her involvement in the box office flop, but eventually makes a couple of positive comments about the film. She even owns several copies! Her first try at acting involved a small role in a Miami Vice episode, but Hearts of Fire was her first major acting gig. She admits in the Bob’s Metal Show interview that she was very unprepared for such a huge role, but honestly, she was hands-down the most talented actor in the movie. In another interview with Jen Dan of Adequacy.net , she stated “Rupert, I think, hated me.” referring to Rupert Everett, her love interest (other than Dylan) in the film. That statement broke my heart a little since she seems like such a sweet, down-to-Earth person, but Everett has a reputation for being a douche bag, so it’s his loss if anything.
Her most successful album, 1989’s Heart Like A Gun, was released post-Hearts of Fire, so thankfully, the film’s reputation did not impact her music career. She would go on to release one more album, Squeeze, three years later before taking a break from the music world. She received a degree in accounting at UCLA and had a very short career with PricewaterhouseCoopers before taking some time off to start a family. But because music runs through her veins, Fiona jumped back into the music scene with her 2011 album, Unbroken. I listened to a few tracks, and they were all pretty good! She sounds like she’s singing what she wants to sing, how she wants to sing it. Even though she’s currently active in the music scene, it’s highly unlikely that she’ll give acting another shot. Although I enjoyed her performance in Hearts of Fire, this seems like a wise choice.
Fun Fact: Fiona did background vocals for Roger Daltrey’s cover of Elton John’s “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me,” which was featured on The Lost Boys movie soundtrack. Interestingly enough, Timmy Cappello, the “Sexy Sax Man” who appears in one of the early scenes of The Lost Boys performing “I Still Believe,” plays Nico, one of Rupert Everett’s band members in Hearts of Fire!
For more on November’s Movie of the Month, the Bob Dylan rock n’ roll disaster Hearts of Fire, check out our Swampchat discussion of the film and last week’s look at Dylan’s behind-the-scenes apathy.