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INT: Steve Austin

04.27.2007

I am not what you would call a fan of wrestling. I understand its place in the world and I see the attraction for some, but I am not a follower. But even I knew the name Stone Cold Steve Austin. I’ve seen him on television and he also appeared in the remake of THE LONGEST YARD. And now, he takes on a leading role in the action flick THE CONDEMNED. He joins a group of other convicts who are all rigged and their only chance of survival is to kill all the other cons. Mr. Austin carries the weight well and is very believable as the tough guy who is not really what he seems. His southern accent and his machismo charisma really feel right at home, as does his surprisingly grounded work. Hey, fans of Stone Cold are about to see Mr. Austin the actor as opposed to the wrestler.

As I mentioned, I was not a fan of wrestling before, but I am now a big ole Stone Cold Steve Austin fan. Imagine walking through a crowded convention center with this guy, surrounded by comic book and wrestling fans alike. Well, let me tell you, it’s a trip and a half. All eyes were on him and the respect and dignity he showed the autograph seekers was astounding.

On his way to getting a coffee at Starbucks, he didn’t even flinch when asked for an autograph or a picture. He is a classy guy that gives props to those who admire Stone Cold…you can’t not respect that. And he was also just a damn friendly dude who has a kick ass ring on his finger by the way. And if you are a fan, you’ll not be surprised when I say it’s a skull. He talked about his career and his admiration and respect for his fans. He also spoke about his respect for the other actors among THE CONDEMNED. As I said, I am now a fan of Mr. Steve Austin; check out what the man is all about.

Steve Austin

I told a friend of mine that I was meeting you, and they wanted to know all about you being a guest referee. How did this come about? [Vince McMahon and Donald Trump’s head-shaving match]

Well you know I’ve been with WWF since 1995, and hadn’t been wrestling for about two years. We’ve been working on this film for about two years. The storyline started happening and they said let’s bring Steve in here and use him. First of all it’s going to be good for Wrestlemania, and one of my homes is Wrestlemania. It doesn’t matter where it’s at; I’ve been there to so many of them it was only natural to bring me in.

Also from a thinking standpoint, I’ve been out there for about two years and in this storyline starting a couple of weeks ago in Phoenix, D.C. last week, I won’t be in Indianapolis this week with Chicago coming up, I will be in Chicago and then we go to Detroit for the press conference on the 28th and then from there we go to New York for that press conference, and then Detroit for Wrestlemania so that basically, to keep a long story short, get the exposure back up and my face back out there because after Wrestlemania it goes to mainstream places, I’ll probably do two more Wrestlemania appearances and then the push is more the mainstream stuff all the way to the 27th with the opening of “The Condemned”. So it is a great storyline for me to be involved in. To me it is the best spot on the card so using it as a tool to get the face back out there. No doubt about it.

You are kind of new to acting, you’ve done a little bit. Is this something you want to continue doing?

I had an absolute blast. What I tell people is I learned so much, this being my first movie and the first of many I was so intrigued by the process. The learning process…. you know, taking a script...when I met my acting coach Allan, who helped me out as far as breaking down scenes and when you look at the words on the page, that’s not all that is on that page, you know, there is stuff between the lines. And so learning all of that, where that character is in that moment and going into the filming process with different lenses. It is a very controlled environment, different from professional wrestling in front of the cameras..

I love the movie making process and want to make a lot more. I look at this first movie which I am very proud of, I am proud of my performance but I look at it as being… I remember when I first started professional wrestling I was very green and I learned a lot and I turned into arguably one of the best ever…now in this movie I did one hell of a job but this is my first movie. I’ve got a lot to learn, and I want to work with so many good people, you know, the actors that you like to work with, the directors you’d like to work with, much like you want to work with the great players in professional wrestling because you can learn from them. So here is my start and we’ll see where I finish. You can only improve with repetition. I think that life is about repetition that is how you get better with stuff. And watching other people and learning from them.

Were the other actors really good to work with? Did they teach you a lot?

The only...I did not get a whole lot of chances... but I remember standing with Rick Hoffman, and I love to work with Rick Hoffman because I think he is great...not only is he a wonderful actor but I think he is a really funny guy. I thought the guy that played Ian Breckel [Robert Mammone] an Australian actor that did one hell of a job. I only had one scene with him, I’d like to work with him more, but you know, that being said there were not a lot of veteran actors that I had scenes with but the young actors that were in the movie all gave great performances. But in answering your question there is a lot to learn from experienced people that’s what I look forward to in the future.

What was it about this film that you were like this has got to be my first big film?

You know an agent brought me this script in Santa Monica a couple of years back and I showed it to Vince and it was a rough concept, a good concept but it just needed a lot of work. And Vince got behind it with his WWF films, so we need a writer/director and we hooked up Scott Wiper, and I think the world of him. I think he is going to be a very busy guy in the future. He is very organized, very prepared. He is very thorough. He rewrote that damn script about eight times until he came up with the version to shoot.

Originally when this script was brought to me, he wanted me to be McStarley, the Vinnie Jones character, I would have been the bad guy. Like some guy, a bigger name than me, an actor, to play Jack Conrad but when we got this over to Vince, he said “no, no you be Jack Conrad” and I said “ok I’m cool with that” I don’t always like being the bad guy.” But that is part of the story there. I think it is a part that is good for me because although it’s a movie that I don’t think you’d expect a cat like me to be in, it is my first movie and I’m not biting off more than I can chew.

Yeah, you are not doing Shakespeare.

Yeah, it’s not Shakespeare, we are spinning some camera time around, I do consider myself a lead actor in this or one of the leads however you want to say that, but yeah, I carry enough weight of the movie, enough weight on my shoulders that I learned a lot, and that being said I came with some information since I worked in front of cameras for ten years, so I was not totally green and it was very natural for me. I feel very at home in front of the cameras, I was not nervous at all. I did do my preparation and I showed up ready to go and I think it shows. I think you always have something to learn in any endeavor you do, but I am very proud of my performance in this movie.

I liked you a lot. I think you’ve got charisma on screen and in this role in particular, you come across as the everyday man.

That is what I tried to do but without trying to do it. That is kind of what happened with my other career too. So anyway, I think we had so much fun and there were no egos, none whatsoever, I mean Vinnie Jones, who has been in about thirty movies now and he comes in just you know, Vinnie, funny, witty, wisecracking actor. He is a hunter and a fisher, and so am I so we had a lot of stuff in common. I met Vinnie back in 99, but had not seen him since then, but he has been a busy guy. And then Rick Hoffman shows up and he’s great. Robert Mammone did a great job. So there are great performances in there and no egos. We had so much fun behind the scenes. You know it’s a hard movie, but you can tell… you can watch this movie... this is going to surprise a lot of people, it just will. It’s a good movie and we had a lot of fun behind the scenes I’ll say that.

It looked like one of those films were you had a blast filming it. It looked fun. After this, do you have anything planned?

We are trying to find a script right now. We are having a tough time trying to find one. We want to make sure that the next one is the right one. Obviously I want to carry more of a load, less of an ensemble movie. So being smart in that decision, this is an important decision so we have to plan things out like a big chess game you’ve got to think a couple moves down the road if this is the right choice to make. It is a little bit of a tough thing finding a script. I am looking forward to this movie coming out.

When I first kind of came into this town, you know, you take movies and it does not matter if you are the box office champ or pay per view champ, which I am in another world, it does not matter that they want to see you in a movie. I would not say “The Longest Yard” was anything... I did not have a resume. So I am looking forward to “The Condemned” coming out and then it is like this is something that this cat can do. So finally, I’ll get basically a reel, a movie or whatever it is, here it is. So I hope to get some stuff out of that.

I hope you do because honestly dude when we were walking up here the way you deal with your fans, it blows me away. I mean here you are a bigger star than anybody you know. Do you ever get tired of that?

No, because first of all, it is just the way I was brought up, man I was on top of the wrestling world, I was red hot, and then I get dropped on my head and almost got paralyzed and had to have my neck fused up and I was gone for fifteen months. So when you are on top of the world and you get that yanked out from under you, then you come back after, that was potentially career suicide and the fans welcome you back like they did me and I was right back on top again, that’s just the way it was. And so the way my parents brought me up was keep everything in perspective.

Like my dad told me “Steve if you are going to do anything don’t half-ass it, do it right the first time and then come back and do it again” it is just a work ethic and perspective. Anytime you are in the entertainment industry, like I’ve been in for seventeen years, and that’s not a real job. Well it is, but you are a lucky person so the attention and the fans that go with it are part of the territory, and if you do not take care of the people taking care of you, the people that stood by you, the people that stood by me after all the things that I’d been through, and I just consider myself a lucky person.

And I always consider myself to be in the right place at the right time, sometimes there’s a delay here or there whatever, but if you don’t support the people who support you then you are a very stupid person. I always treat people like gold and sometimes you run into rude people but that’s just the way rude people are, and when you run into good people you’ve got to treat them good.

Yeah, your fan base of seventeen years. How hard was it getting into that when you first started as opposed to if someone was going to become a wrestler right now? What has changed?

The thing in wrestling was, I grew up 100 miles south of Houston. I grew up on Houston wrestling, and I just remember watching two guys fighting for the Houston championship belt and I was in love immediately. This was when cable or TV was very regional. I started getting the other promotions, the last one I got was the WWF, and then I went to North Texas State on a football scholarship, and one of the wrestlers out of wrestling school said...and at the time I was out of school working at a freight dock... and I saw the commercial for wrestling school and said that is for me.

So I went in, and it cost me $50 for the seminar and $45 and $1500 for the wrestling school costs, and they beat the shit out of me for two months. Now this was back when wrestling was not exposed and if you had to believe anything, it was more real than not real. Then I starved for a couple of years, and then I finally got my break with the WWF. Back in the old days you used to have a territory for your promotions, it was like mini-schools everywhere so a guy got a chance to learn and there were jobs.

When all the territories got knocked down and there were just two big promoters the feeder system dried up, so there is no place for guys to learn. So these days guys get picked out of gyms, and they train them but not in front of people. They are not in front of people, like the movie thing, it is repetition, the more you do something in front of people the better you are. That is what has changed, the feeding system has dried up and now they pay the guys to go to school rather than you paying them to let you into the school.

Let me know what you think. Send questions and comments to jimmyo@joblo.com.

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Source: JoBlo.com

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