A one-time top level American football player and former WWE star, Dwayne Johnson broke into film with The Mummy Returns, which led to his first starring role, in The Scorpion King in 2002. The success of that film led to subsequent leading roles in The Rundown, Walking Tall and Gridiron Gang. He also gave a strong performance in the ensemble hit Be Cool, lent his voice to Planet 51 as astronaut Captain Charles Baker and returned to big family comedy with his starring role in Tooth Fairy and Race to Witch Mountain. Other credits include Faster and Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. He joined the Fast and Furious franchise in 2011’s Fast Five, playing hard lawman Luke Hobbs. He returns in Fast & Furious 6…
What’s new for your character, Hobbs, in this movie?
In the Hobbs world and in the Hobbs fashion world there is another mission. There is another bad guy to get and in order to catch wolves you need to get wolves, so Hobbs has to enlist the help of Dom and his crew to help catch this other group of bad guys. Essentially, I am just giving you the rough overview of it, but in the spirit of Don Corleone they make him ‘an offer that he can’t refuse.’ There is a reason why he has to help; he has no choice but I am never on their side. They are bad guys and they broke the law and I still think they are pieces of sh*t, excuse my language! There is a bigger picture involved and there are bigger fish to get. Once we get this big fish I am then going to take care of Dom and his crew because there is still unfinished business. That creates a wonderful conflict dynamic and palpable energy and intensity.
What do you like about playing this guy?
I like that he is very myopic in his approach and there is no grey area. It is either black or white. In his constitution and in his make up and his wiring he is all about getting the job done, all about finding whomever that person or group is, hunting them down and bringing them in. That’s what he does. Along the way he has access to some of the greatest automobiles in the world that the government supplies. He is not about small and fast in terms of cars. He is about big and powerful. It is the same with the weapons, too. It is a fun, fun character and it is great as an actor to come on board with an incredible franchise that really has, against the odds, been incredibly successful and continues to ascend in this success. The character is fun.
To what do you attribute the success of the Fast and Furious franchise?
I think what drives the success of the franchise is the studio. You have individuals at Universal who have been around for a very long time and with Universal, they are like family to me. They were the ones who broke me into the business with The Mummy Returns and they saw potential in me and then gave me my break with The Scorpion King and a lot of those individuals are still there. So I know that they are consistently in the sphere of, ‘How can we be better?’ They are very protective of their franchise and it is important not only to make a movie that’s better in many ways than the last one, but also in two, three, four movies down the road and whether they do ten more without me, who knows, but that spirit drives them. And then there’s Vin, who cares deeply about the franchise and he really helps to drive it.
In this movie there’s no major showdown with Hobbs and Dom, but you do fight one guy who’s even bigger than you, right?
Right. Since there is not a Dom and Hobbs showdown in this one the idea was to get individuals who were viable bad guys, not only psychologically to have the advantage over the good guys but also physically as well.
Have you ever fought an actor who is bigger than you?
No. I haven’t.
Are you looking forward to it?
I am looking forward to it because I win! If I was going to lose on the other hand…
How do you think the sixth movie will top what’s come before?
The last one was great, I enjoyed it, I loved the script and I think we are making a hell of a movie. I think we have a great shot at making a movie that is just as exciting as the last one, possibly more so, in different ways. We are introducing a lot more characters in this one, which is a great challenge for Justin [Lin, the director]. He has done a great job at balancing that and making sure that everyone has a moment to shine, characters old and new. The action is ramped up. Generally, it is hard to compare. You just kind of put together the best movie you can and have confidence in what you deliver. I think we are making a great movie.
Can you talk a little about the aeroplane sequence at the end of the movie?
I started shooting a little bit of that a couple of days ago. The Antonov is a massive Russian plane, a massive plane, and it is an incredibly massive final sequence to the movie. I will put it up there and challenge any ending action sequence in the history of Hollywood in comparison. We have thrown everything we had at this final action sequence. It will be however high-up in the air and there will be the Antonov and every character in the movie will be on that plane. And without giving too much away, the plane’s going down!
How have you enjoyed the experience of shooting in London?
I love London, I do, and we have had a lot of challenges with the city. The number one challenge was the Olympics, which was interesting because we had knew that the Olympics were here! There have been challenges that you just deal with. I give a lot of credit to Justin Lin. It is a very, very big movie, a very big franchise and he has a lot to balance and he wears a multitude of hats every day. And all the challenges we talked about he deals with in a very calm, smart way. He has a wonderful energy to him, very focused, but personally I have enjoyed London. The city is very film-friendly regardless of the challenges that we have had. The city is great so I have a continued love affair with London. I love it.
Does it feel like coming back to visit old friends when you return to a franchise like this?
Every actor has their own processes and some of the processes make sense to a lot of people. Some of it seems crazy. It worked out very well for me, personally, coming into this franchise. They are already a family, a group that has been together for many, many years on screen and off screen. For me, my character didn’t know the other characters, personally, and it worked out very nicely because I was able to keep my distance on the last movie and on this one too. I come on and it is an intense shoot. I am intense. I like to have fun but I don’t like to mess around necessarily with the other actors because there is still a palpable energy that is important that we maintain.
Do you plan to do some more diverse movies or will you be sticking to action roles?
I would love to do more diverse movies. My goal when I went into acting was to have a diverse career. Twelve years ago when I started with The Mummy Returns I wanted to be able to sit here all these years later today saying that I had been able to work in all different genres and hopefully have success in them. But if not, okay. Doing something like Southland Tales was very exciting to me and working with a director like Richard Kelly, a writer-director, was very unique. And there is a big movie I am doing called Pain and Gain, myself and Mark Wahlberg, directed by Michael Bay, and there’s another small movie I have coming out called Snitch. So those are different movies that hit a sensibility for me and I welcome them and love that. Those movies are not the first ones that come across my desk. And when a studio has a script it is ‘Okay, we have here a main character who has multiple personal disorders, suicidal tendencies and all these things.’ The Rock isn’t really the person who comes to mind! I do get that and for me generally it is through a director who wants to shake things up and wants to shock the world — that’s how I get more interesting material.
Do you have any thoughts on women in action films?
I think it is great when you can find women in action films and you certainly find it in spades in this movie because you have two women who are viable, believable, bankable and are good at kicking ass! And they can do it legitimately. I think that is played out on screen so I think the audience is really going to enjoy seeing them.
How was it working with Gina Carano?
I spend a lot of time with Gina. I love Gina. I have followed her career for a very, very long time and I admire her too, in so many ways. It is not easy to break into Hollywood and it is not easy to make it in Hollywood and yet she has done both very well. She surrounds herself with good people and she has a great head on her shoulders. She was very successful in MMA, a male dominated world, which is very admirable and then to make that transition, seemingly seamless by the way, is very impressive. She has a big, bright future in that business if she wants it.
Will Samoa ever beat the Wallabies at rugby again and do you wish you were on the national side?
I have faith in my homeland. Do I ever wish I were playing? No. I will tell you why. I used to live in New Zealand for some time. I went to school there and I played rugby. I have been very lucky to have played American Football and American professional wrestling for a very long time and have my fair share of action in Hollywood. But there is no tougher sport than rugby and those who have played it and understand the game know what I am talking about. Those who don’t, well I have this argument all the time with my American buddies who are great football players and I tell them, ‘As amazing as you are at football, I want you to take all your pads off, including your helmet and then go play the game. See how long you last.’ But no, I don’t wish I were playing.