Jon Bon Jovi on Possibly Never Touring Again, Taylor Swift Creating Her Own ‘Industry’ and Coming Close to Landing Val Kilmer’s Role in ‘Heat’

Jon Bon Jovi is a snowbird — the nickname given to people of a certain age who flee their northern homes during the winter months to areas with warmer climates.

It’s late April and the famous New Jersey native is in Palm Beach, Fla.

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“My license still says the great state of New Jersey,” the Bon Jovi frontman tells me on this week’s “Just for Variety” podcast. “I’m there when it’s not cold. But when it’s cold, these old bones are on the beach.”

The rocker, 62, is talking and thinking a lot about his age lately. While his Hulu docuseries, “Thank You, Goodnight: The Bon Jovi Story,” chronicles the iconic rock band’s rise to the top, the through line of the four episodes is the singer’s struggle to overcome vocal problems in time for the group’s 40th anniversary tour.

As of today, Bon Jovi says the earliest he can get back on stage for a full-fledged tour is sometime next year. But even that isn’t guaranteed.

When he was about 20 minutes late for this interview, he apologized. He was in vocal therapy. “It’s a range of emotions on a daily basis,” Bon Jovi says. “Yesterday was unbelievable. And today was less than perfection. It’s frustrating. I know that none of us can achieve perfection, but I have to achieve excellence in order for me to do it on that level again, or I won’t.”

He continues, “I don’t want to pretend to be something I was … I don’t try to be that boy from 29 years ago, but I want to be the very best version of the 2024 version of me.”

The band launched in 1983 with Bon Jovi as lead vocalist, guitarist Richie Sambora, keyboardist David Bryan, drummer Tico Torres and bassist Alec John Such. Along with their massive success came heartbreaking blows. Such was pushed out of the band in 1994 due to his drug problem; Sambora also battled substance abuse, leaving in 2013 to get help.

Bon Jovi stayed away from hard partying, noting that he was “never doing drugs.” But he wasn’t a total saint.

He and his wife Dorothea have been married for 35 years, but he admits being a rock star sometimes got the better of him: “It was the ’80s, for God’s sake. It was the ’90s, it was the 2000s … Did a girl ever throw herself at me? Fuck, yes. I’m Jon Bon Jovi.”

He and Dorothea, high school sweethearts who started dating 44 years ago, have four children and are “madly in love more every day,” he says.

In 1995, Bon Jovi leapt into acting, starring in “Moonlight and Valentino” opposite Gwyneth Paltrow. On the television side, he had a 10-episode arc on “Ally McBeal” in 2002. But a Hollywood career proved elusive.

Looking back, he recalls nearly getting the role that eventually went to Val Kilmer in “Heat.”

“I wasn’t good enough in the audition to listen to [director] Michael Mann,” he remembers. “He wanted to do it three, four, five times: ‘Take your shoes off, jump on that couch, talk to me, how would you do this?’ I just repeated the lines.”

He sent a self-tape in for a role in “The Perfect Storm,” but he never even received a response from director Wolfgang Petersen: “If I had gotten those kind of roles, who knows where I would’ve gone.”

He has been pitched Bon Jovi Broadway musicals. “I’ve been asked to do that 100 times,” Bon Jovi says. “Everybody wanted to write the story of Tommy and Gina [from “Livin’ on a Prayer”], but I’m going to guess that Abba did it and ‘Jersey Boys’ did it, and they did it really well many, many years ago. So I have turned down that opportunity time and again. I do recall all those years ago when I saw ‘Jersey Boys,’ and I went, ‘Oh, that’s our story.’ That’s every band’s story. So our story isn’t that unique. And then I thought, OK, if you take the characters of Tommy and Gina and build two and a half hours around the catalog and their life, then it’s ‘Mamma Mia.’ So that’s not unique.”

While Bon Jovi allowed cameras to follow him around for “Thank You, Goodnight,” the family has no plans for “Keeping Up With the Bon Jovis.” “Not going to ever, ever, ever, ever happen,” he says. “Not for me. I’ve never given 60 seconds of my life to a Kardashian show or a housewife show or any of them. I’ve never watched 60 seconds of any of it.” For the record, recent television viewing he enjoyed includes Ryan Murphy’s “Feud: Capote Vs. The Swans” as well as the Ben Franklin series “Franklin” on Apple TV+.

As for new music he’s listening to, Bon Jovi lists the latest albums from the Rolling Stones and Pearl Jam. “On the other side of the ledger — Zach Bryan, Inhaler, Noah Kahan, Olivia Rodrigo,” he says. “These young talents all have something to say.”

He praises the “absolutely incredible” Taylor Swift. “She created an industry. She utilized what she does best,” Bon Jovi says. “She sings like Taylor Swift. She plays guitar like Taylor Swift. She’s not trying to be something that she’s not, and it is connected with an audience that is unique.”

Back in the late ’90s, Bon Jovi was the face – and body – of Versace in an ad campaign shot by Richard Avedon. “[Gianni Versace] goes, ‘Take all your clothes off, wrap this blanket around your waist and go stand over there,’” he says. “I was like, ‘Whoa!’ So, I did and then I loved when Elton John came up to me and said, ‘I have the outtakes.’ I was like, ‘Fuck.’”

You can listen to the full conversation with Jon Bon Jovi on the “Just for Variety” podcast above or find it wherever you download your favorite podcasts.

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