Inspired by the real-life story of Tim "Ripper" Owens, singer in a Judas Priest cover band who was chosen to replace singer Rob Halford when he left Judas Priest. Jason Flemyng's character's declaration of homosexuality on his departure mirrors that of Halford.
The majority of the musicians in the movie are actual musicians: Mark Wahlberg fronted Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch; Jason Bonham (A.C., Steel Dragon drummer) is son of John Bonham and founder and drummer of 80's hair band Bonham; Jeff Pilson (Jorgen, Steel Dragon bassist) is bassist for 80's hair band Dokken; Zakk Wylde (Ghode, Steel Dragon guitarist) has played with a ton of bands including Ozzy Osbourne and has his own band, Black Label Society; Blas Elias (Donny, Blood Pollution drummer) is drummer of 80s hair band Slaughter; Brian Vander Ark (Ricki Bell, Blood Pollution bassist) is singer and guitarist in The Verve Pipe; Nick Catanese (Xander Cummins, Blood Pollution guitarist) is guitarist in Wylde's Black Label Society; Stephan Jenkins (Bradley, Black Babylon singer) is singer for Third Eye Blind; Vitamin C (Guitarist outside the Steel Dragon mansion) is better known as Vitamin C; Myles Kennedy (Thor) joined Alter Bridge with ex-Creed members after leaving his band, The Mayfield Four and has also sang for Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash. The majority of the songs are also played by original 80's hair band musicians,including Wahlberg's singing voice which belongs to 'Mike Matijevic', lead singer of Steelheart. Steve Plunkett was the lead singer of Autograph, an 80's hair band band with a Top 30 hit "Turn up the Radio". He plays the photographer in the scene where "Chris" does his first photo shoot with Steel Dragon. Steve Plunkett also co-wrote the song "Living the Life".
When Mark Wahlberg tumbled down the stairs for Izzy's first Steel Dragon performance, he did it at a real rock concert. At first the unaware fans thought he'd fallen for real and were shocked into silence. After a few takes they realized it was an act and stopped caring.
Fortunately for Mark Wahlberg, he hung out with enough rock gods during his 'Marky Mark' days, among them 'Motley Crue''s lead singer Vince Neil, to know the drill. "I just took a crash course. I went and hung out with all of these guys," he says. " I was researching the part pretty early on, actually in the middle of shooting The Perfect Storm (2000). I just went to as many concerts as I could and hung out with these guys."
The rooftop locale used for the press conference that introduces Chris "Izzy" Cole as Steel Dragon's new lead singer, and announces their forthcoming tour with him, is the same rooftop that was used for the final, tour ending press conference and record company party for the fictional heavy metal band, This Is Spinal Tap (1984).