They were pitted as the fiercest of rivals during their struggle for late-Nineties chart domination. But the Backstreet Boys and 'NSync have officially buried the hatchet – and a couple of zombies – by teaming up to make a horror film with the movie studio behind the hit SyFy franchise Sharknado.
"It's a zombie Western futuristic horror movie," Backstreet Boy Nick Carter tells Rolling Stone. "My character is still being worked out right now, but I'm a good guy that's going to help save the day."
Carter will write and star in the post-apocalyptic drama, tentatively titled Dead 7, about a "ragtag band of gunslingers" fighting a zombie plague. He'll be joined by a roll call of Nineties pop icons including fellow Backstreet singers Howie Dorough and A.J. McLean and 'NSync's Joey Fatone. "I get to be the drunk," Fatone tells Rolling Stone, laughing. "Typecast!" Carter says he is reaching out to numerous musicians to fill out the cast. "There's a wish list of people that I want," muses Carter. "I want it to be musically based. I might reach out to Jordan [Knight] from the New Kids on the Block."
However, Justin Timberlake fans hoping the singer might reprise his acting career for the project shouldn't be too excited. "I'm the only *NSYNC-er as of now, but you never know," Fatone says. "Nick's vision is to bring some other people in that genre that have never really done a lot of film but that were in music in the Nineties and 2000s."
"What [Carter] came to us with was a big idea of pop music stars in a genre setting," says David Latt, whose company The Asylum, best known for the Sharknado franchise, is producing the film. "A lot of the platforms, distributors and companies we work with responded to that immediately and we knew we had something we should move forward with."
"Movies like this can turn into cult phenomenons and that's what Sharknado happened to be," explains Backstreet Boy McLean, who will play a villain in Carter's film. "I watched it, I'm like, 'Okay, this is ridiculous but I'm still watching it and I think it's awesome.'" Fatone agrees: "It's popular because I think people love an outlet and love that kind of hokey-ness but it's fun."
"People always think [we're] rivals," says Fatone. "But there's never been animosity"
Despite Carter's relative lack of movie-making experience, The Asylum co-founder David Rimawi had no qualms about getting behind the project, explaining, "He's a giant horror movie fan and very talented individual."
For his part, Carter, who made his San Diego Comic-Con debut to promote the film, is keen to play up his geek credentials, waxing lyrical about sci-fi and spaghetti westerns, while Lauren Kitt, his wife of 15 months who will also appear in the movie, lets slip that the couple sometimes go LARPing (Live Action Role Playing) in Los Angeles' Griffith Park.
The 35-year old singer was also responsible for a Backstreet Boys comic book collaboration with Stan Lee in 2000, which saw the band re-imagined as superheroes. "He's been a huge fan of sci-fi for years and for him to finally have one of his dreams come into fruition, I'm super, super proud of him," says McLean.
If nothing else, the film should be revered by both bands' fans for being the catalyst that brought BSB and 'NSync together after two decades. "We've never done anything together collectively," Fatone acknowledges. "People always think [we're] some sort of rivals. But it's so funny - there's never been animosity or anything like that. Now we're setting the record straight by doing a film together."