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INT: The Rock

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is well on his way towards making folks forget that he ever was a professional wrestler. Lauded by critics for his standout performance in the otherwise disappointing BE COOL, he's quickly building an impressively diverse acting resume that includes upcoming roles in GRIDIRON GANG and SOUTHLAND TALES. His most recent project, DOOM, is the latest in a growing list of films that first existed not as screenplays, but as video games. Based on the groundbreaking PC game that helped establish the now-ubiquitous first-person shooter genre, DOOM already has a built-in fanbase of devoted gamers that Universal hopes will propel the film to box-office greatness.

The Rock stopped by the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills last week for a press conference to promote DOOM. Always candid, he didn’t hold anything back when talking about the trials involved in making the film.  Here are some excerpts.

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson

So, what attracted you to the project?

Read the script; really, really loved the script. I had a chance to play - the first Doom I played almost fifteen years ago. Big fan of the game. When I was approached with it, Universal had sent me the script and I thought, “It’s pretty ambitious to try and make this into a movie”. Frankly because the movies adapted in the past from video games have been...they’ve been OK. They’ve made a ton of money, box office-wise, but kind of, you walk away like, “All right.” I thought it was really ambitious. I read the script and I really, really enjoyed it.

Then I remember calling Universal and saying, “You know, we really got a shot…if we stay true to the game, and remain unapologetic in our approach and when it’s time to blow demons away, blow them away.”  It’s kind of sick right? It’s time to die, just die the way you should be dying in Doom. No PG-13 style. And not only that, the first person shooter was written in there, that sequence, and I thought wow, that’s really…again it’s ambitious.  Hopefully we can capture that and I thought they did a great job of capturing it. And not only that, for me personally, like selfishly, I get the chance to carry the BFG.  I’m that guy.  I’m like, “Cool!” And I get to just be a real badass guy.

What was the dynamic like between you and Karl Urban on set?

It was all right. It was an intense shoot, to be very honest with you. I was away from home. We’re in Prague for four months on a sound stage. I never saw the sun.  Wake up at four or in the morning, no sun. Get back home , you come out of the soundstage, no sun. So I never saw the sun. Everyday work for me was - you know, you talk about going from playing gay in Be Cool and singing country love songs, to Doom where everyday we’re being chased, we’re chasing, there’s death; there’s my men getting their heads ripped off and death and dying and all that. So it was an intense shoot. And the corridors – they did a great job set design wise. It was dark, it was eerie; it was everything that Doom should be. We lived it every day.

What do you do to stay sane in those conditions?

That’s a good question. I’ll tell you exactly what I did. I called my agent and I said, “First of all, I’m miserable.” Because you’re away from home and your family’s not there, you know? And I found great places to eat. I’m kind of like a cow; if I’m watered and I’m fed then I can work. Work me all day, I’m good to go. I called my agent and I said, “Please, just get me a satellite, that’s all I need, so I can watch anything other than CNN International.” That was the only thing on and it was driving me crazy. For those of you who haven’t seen CNN International, it’s a little one-sided. I was ready for my satellite and they got me that and that was it. It was a tough shoot. Intense. We worked six day weeks a lot, French hours where there’s no lunch break. The guy just keeps walking around with food and you kind of just pick at it, and that was it. I was able to find a good gym. I got up every morning and trained and ate well, and that was it.

What was the most difficult thing about the training? I know that you went through a very intensive boot camp.

The most difficult thing on my end was, as far as for the training, to try and quell my desire to pick the brain of the former SAS commander we had. I have a lot of love and a lot of respect for our military, so I constantly (said), “Just between you and I, in the Afghan mountains...” “No mate, can’t tell you”. It was great and I appreciate that. And the training paid off too.  It was really, really important. It made sure that whether we liked each other or we didn’t, it made sure that all of us guys got together everyday for training. Interesting dynamic.

What was the most challenging aspect of the role?

I think, just overall, the most challenging aspect of the movie - number one, I think from a character perspective, as an actor you want to bring the real and pull and draw from your own life. I think what happens for me, in sci-fi horror in this movie - you know, you’re being chased by a seven foot demon and other than my first girlfriend, I can’t think of anybody who reminds me of (that).  She’d love that by the way. You know what I mean, how to prepare for that. So, for me the most challenging thing was to try and find some layers for Sarge, and try and make him interesting. And try and add a little bit of levity to a story that’s like heavy in death.

The fight sequence at the end, did you bring any of your own experience to that, or was that just choreographed by a standard studio guy?

No. Well we had a guy named Dion Lam who’s really, really good. He coordinated the Matrix movies, Spiderman 2. He comes from that Hong Kong school, which is awesome. So, I love the process. Pre-production, principle photography, post; I love everything. So, to get involved with him and work with a guy like that, who I know - he was the understudy to a legend in Hong Kong , so he was like the man. And I had a chance to work with Dion Lam, had a chance to work with Andy Chang on The Rundown and The Scorpion King, so I was really lucky. And I love that. You know what’s great about those guys, it’s like, I tell Dion, “This is what I can do. This is the move I’d like to incorporate. How can we do this, but how can we make it different and how can we make it special.” He’s great.

We know the BFG is just a prop, but how heavy was it?

The real one was heavy, which was good because you can tell when I pick it up. The first time I fire it, I can like take a step then, boom. That one was really, really heavy, the prop master’s had made. The one that I had to run with wasn’t as heavy, because obviously you gotta run, but that was a heavy sucker. And it had kick to it too; you’d press it and it’d kick back. Both of them are sitting in my house now. (laughs) Fun.

What can you tell us about another video game-based film you’re doing, SPY HUNTER?

I just did the motion capture for the video game Spy Hunter 3, which is going to be cool because it allows you to get out of the car now. It’s really cool. It’ll be with Universal.  This was one of those projects where we’ve had eight writers on it, on Spy Hunter. Great writers too. Millions of dollars being spent, but it’s one of those things where you really don’t want to rush it. You just don’t want to make any type of movie. It’s such a special movie conceptually; it’s so cool with the car. You’re the hunter of spies. Stuart Beattie, we all believe will come through. He wrote Pirates of the Caribbean and Collateral, so we’re waiting. Fingers crossed, it should be in about a week.

You’re doing a lot of diverse roles these days. Do you have a plan when it comes to choosing projects?

Umm, yeah.  Well, actually before I did Doom and then after Doom, I shot a movie called Gridiron Gang, which is just one of those…every once in a while there’s that movie you don’t know about, it’s not one of those $150 million War of the Worlds. It’s just one of those special movies that move people and inspires. I did that and then Southland (Tales). As a matter of fact, we just wrapped Southland. So for me it’s just…I want to do a wide array of roles that make sense, that I feel that I can come in and do well with and work with good directors like Phil Joanou, let me see…Richard Kelly, who just did Southland Tales with me, where a I play a paranoid schizophrenic.

I’ve got Sarah Michelle Gellar and Mandy Moore as my wife. There’s a lot going on. I hear voices and that stuff. Yeah it’s just…I want to do that. I think when I first broke into the business about five years ago with…even with The Mummy Returns – a small role, no English dialogue, that was it. It was one line and that was it. They marketed the hell out of that. It was like, “Wow, he’s in the whole movie!” I just want to be good at what I do. I realized then when I first broke in with The Mummy Returns, being on the set in Morocco and watching everybody act, if I really wanted to be good, that acting is not easy.  I had then a newfound respect for acting.  It’s like, ok, if I want to be good, then you have to concentrate and surround yourself with good people and good actors and good coaches and good technique and just all that kind of stuff. 

Did you always know you wanted to act?

It’s interesting. I did, but I didn’t know how I was gonna get there. I had no ties. There wasn’t anything like that. I played football for ten years and I wrestled for another six and a half, seven years. Fortunately in wrestling, it was the medium of television, so I thought, “Ok, at least I’m in TV.” And originally I wanted to be in sitcom comedy; that was my goal. And of course the big screen is always a goal. It was for me. I have no connections. I didn’t grow up across the street from Paramount . Nobody was an executive in my family. It wasn’t like that at all. So I didn’t know how that would happen. And then when The Mummy Returns came along and I met with Stephen Sommers, I was just so excited. And I was like, “I’d love to play this.” He was like, “Yeah, I created this role, the Scorpion King.”  “Oh, I’d love to.” I was like, “Any dialogue I gotta study?” He was like, “Uh, here’s this one line you’re gonna have to study.” “Ok, great. Cool, I’ll take it.” And since then – that happened and then Scorpion King, and here we are.

Are you doing Species Human?

You know what’s probably gonna happen with that? What’s probably gonna happen with that is we’re gonna turn it into a video game. Conceptually, it’s a cool idea for a video game and I love video games. That’s one of those things, the script is written and written and written, and if it doesn’t come in right and nobody feels great about it…Kevin Misher, he did the Interpreter and Scorpion King and Rundown, and it would be with Universal, and they come from a place and I appreciate (it)…we’re not gonna make a movie just to make it. It’s gotta be right.   So we’ve talked about it and we’ve talked to gaming companies and we’re probably gonna turn it into a video game. 

You’re not happy with the script?

Well, the concept is great. We’re in a zoo and it’s all like if we got transport into a zoo in space…

And you represent the human race.

I represent the human race. The idea is great, you know? And there’s all these other species of whatever’s out there – anything your mind can imagine. My mind is not that imaginative, but for those who are, it’s really really cool. And the sci-fi genre. But I think so. Unless somebody comes up and just nails it with the script. I’m being candid, you know? Hopefully.

-- Spoilers Ahead --

Are signed on to do a sequel?

For this?

Yeah.

It’s funny. We talked about that. It’s possible, because I’m super-human. So even though the grenade explodes, you really don’t…well, you never know what might happen. That would be cool. It would be almost like The Terminator if I came back but I was infected. But I started to be a little…kind of like that. (laughs) I don’t know. But yeah, we’ll see. I’d love to, though. That would be cool. Especially an infected Sarge. (laughs) Great. It’s not Clint Eastwood.

Questions? Comments? Manifestos? Send them to me at [email protected].

Source: JoBlo.com

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