Do you smell what Benny Safdie is cooking? It’s a collaboration with Dwayne Johnson for the A24 film The Smashing Machine. Johnson will play legendary MMA fighter Mark Kerr from the no-holds-barred era of UFC in the new project. A24 is thrilled to reteam with Safdie after the filmmaker’s 2019 cinematic stress test Uncut Gems, starring Adam Sandler as a crooked New York City jeweler in over his head.
In addition to his directorial duties, Safdie is co-writing the script, which focuses on Kerr’s struggle with addiction, victory, love, and friendship in the year 2000. Likely to veer into more severe territory, The Smashing Machine gives Johnson a rare opportunity to flex his drama muscles for cameras. While some could be confused about what that looks like, Safdie is known for bringing the best out of his film stars.
Kerr is an American former wrestler and mixed martial artist. As a two-time UFC Heavyweight Tournament Champion, World Vale Tudo Championship tournament winner, a PRIDE FC Heavyweight Champion, 1992 NCAA National Wrestling Champion, 1994 National Freestyle Champion, and 4x ADCC World Submission Champion, Kerr is one of the biggest badasses to ever get into the ring.
“Dwayne and Benny are singular talents, and their shared vision for Mark’s inspiring story is electrifying,” said Noah Sacco of A24. “We are deeply honored to have their trust as collaborators in bringing this incredibly special project to life.”
Meanwhile, Johnson’s Christmas comedy Red One is in post-production. The action-oriented holiday project stars Johnson, Chris Evans, Lucy Liu, Kiernan Shipka, and J.K. Simmons as a ripped Santa Claus. The plot remains a mystery, but with a cast like that, it’s bound to be a holly jolly good time. Jake Kasdan (Jumanji: The Next Level, Transmissions From the Future) directs Red One from a script by Chris Morgan and Hiram Garcia.
Are you a fan of Mark Kerr’s career? Who’s your favorite MMA fighter? Do you think Dwayne John will do an excellent job playing Kerr? Will he play the role straight? Let us know in the comments below, and stay close as details for Benny Safdie’s The Smashing Machine become available.