Dwayne Johnson has worked hard to shake "The Rock" off of his professional name. We will always remember him as the Jabroni-crushing wrestler, but Johnson has committed himself to an acting career and his persistence is paying off.
Now, Johnson stars in Fast Five and we had the pleasure of talking to him about his career and the new role.
Johnson is fresh off playing a man on a vengeance quest in Faster, which brought him back to the action genre he fits so comfortably within. There is no question that he is at his best in films like The Rundown, Walking Tall, or Gridiron Gang. In Fast Five, Johnson takes the role of action star to another level.
He looks like a different person with the extra muscle (no, seriously), a shaved head and a thick goatee, but to play U.S. DSS Special Agent Luke Hobbs, Johnson would get the opportunity to do more than just change up his look. Finally, we get to see a formidable opponent challenge Vin Diesel's Dominic Toretto in hand-to-hand combat. Yet, while Hobbs is a ruthless federal agent, he apparently shows up with a little bit of heart as well.
Johnson walked into the large trailer in which a number of journalists were waiting for him. If you think Johnson is big onscreen, you should see him in person. He kicked off the interview by confirming he is currently at his heaviest since his wrestling days - before selflessly introducing himself to each journalist one-by-one. There is no question, Dwayne Johnson's testosterone is only rivaled by his professionalism.
Once the introductions were taken care of, Johnson explained how his decision to join Fast Five came to fruition and touched upon his string of family-friendly roles.
Dwayne Johnson: "It was an opportunity to work with Universal again, the studio that I started my career with. I did my first four movies with Universal. Always like their management, their executives, how they approach their business and this was an opportunity to work with Universal and be a part of a very successful franchise and an opportunity to work with Vin [Diesel]. I’ve known Vin for a long time an we’ve always talked about doing something together, but as long as it was right and wasn’t forced. This felt like the right opportunity to create a formidable adversary for him and one that was believable and that we could get on screen and rumble and dance and have some fun.
It is always about opportunity for me. And those of you who know me know we have discussed this in the past. It is about creating opportunity day to day. There was an opportunity to do three family movies in a row, putting me in a space where I can continue to entertain, knowing that we were still developing on the other end like a Faster, like these intense action movies we were developing. Well, this is ready and it is in the family genre and it tells a good story. The other is not ready, so let’s go. Believe me, I love to entertain across the board – I love that and enjoy that. At my core, I am a physical guy, a visceral guy, and I love kickin’ ass. I love it, so if I can continue to, it comes down to what’s available, what’s ready, what’s cooking?"
Luke Hobbs, the character Johnson portrays, is still a relative mystery. His role is clearly more prominent than the first trailer suggests, but Universal is keeping Hobbs close to their chest. For now, Dwayne Johnson spilled a little more than the logline for Fast Five describes.
DJ: "Storywise, Dom and Brian are accused of murder. There are two DEA agents who are murdered and the murder gets pinned on them and Mia. I’m sent to find guys when the government needs to find them [Laughter] it sounds like The A-Team. In a way he is a bounty hunter, but he is a U.S. Marshal sent down to Brazil to find these guys. Fun character to play, where I am able to be efficient in the skills – and not only efficient in the skills and having that animalistic, visceral way that I can rip your f***ing throat out (excuse my language) but also have the backing of the U.S. government – a fun, fun character."
Question: Is it kind of like the Tommy Lee Jones character in The Fugitive where he is after the bad guy, but realizes he might not be that bad?
DJ: "It is very similar to that. The only difference is the physicality aspect, which I am able to bring, which heightens things for me, because ultimately I think from an audience standpoint, you want to see that. You want to see Vin and I go at it. I’m not sure where the audiences will be. I just know that I’m rooted in my own truth and my truth is I have a list and your name came up on that list and I’m gonna hunt you and find you and bring you in. If they root for me, great. If they don’t, great, I’m still kicking ass."
The head-to-head matchup between Vin Diesel and Dwayne Johnson will surely bring a new audience to the established Fast and the Furious franchise. There have been some memorable matchups in movie history, and if Fast Five plays the cards right, this could be yet another. Imagine Heat, but with more muscle than brains.
I brought up Heat during the interview with a reference to the famous diner scene when Al Pacino and Robert De Niro face off - with words. I asked Johnson if the anticipation of a fight like this was something that excited him about the role and will get audiences into theaters.
DJ: "100%. Sure."
Question: So you guys talk in a diner?
DJ: "Yes, yes, yes. Over a cappuccino. It’s a wonderful scene. One cappuccino with two straws. That was something I was looking forward to and just as a fan of movies and a fan of genres this is an awesome opportunity that doesn’t come along very often, where you can have two guys who are successful and put it down and go at it. There are some great scenes in the movie where we do talk, and it’s a nice, stinging conversation and the intensity is palpable - it’s in the air. But then f*** talking, eventually you gotta get down and kick some ass."
One aspect of Hobbs' character in Fast Five that excites us is the arsenal he brings along. Sure, there are some big guns to fire at Dom, Brian, and the crew, but this is a car movie, after all. So what did they give one of the most physically intimidating actors around to ride in? Well, only a Gurkha will do.
Johnson's armored truck in the movie is a massive piece of machinery. It looks like a hybrid between a tank and a Hummer - like something that belongs in a war overseas. Rest assured, it gets put to great use by driving through plenty of inanimate objects and protecting Johnson and his Brazilian partner, Elena Neves (Elsa Pataky).
Johnson shared his feelings on the Gurkha and some of the massive weapons he will fire in the movie.
DJ: "The cars in the movie are going to be what you expect. They are dynamite vehicles from fast cars to muscle cars to military Gurkha - which is a big, 10-ton absurdly badass vehicle. When we land in Brazil, I’ve got me, my men and my Gurkha." [Flexes bicep] "It’s called my third gun. Wow. The Rock’s third gun. Haha, I’m sorry, what were we --"
Question: Elsa [Pataky] mentioned she’s got this little pistol and you’ve got this big machine gun and you’re firing away. All I could think about was the BFG.
DJ: "Right, right, right. Wow, you saw Doom, then. One of the few…. One weapon I have is a very big revolver and I’m attracted to guns like that – just big and muscular and masculine. I like revolvers, though, too. Powerful guns to me. I have one in Faster and have one in this movie as well. I also have a much bigger gun that is automatic – there is this one scene where Elsa and I are firing side by side and we are all kind of laughing at it because Elsa is such a petite woman – very beautiful, but petite – and next to me she looks very, very tiny. She looks like a little girl and she has her little ‘pew pew’ and I’ve got me ‘doodoodoodoodoo.’ When it is stripped down it will be very serious, but we laugh because it’s funny."
Hobbs is a great character for Johnson to portray. He should exhibit a combination of the brute strength and honorable compassion that define much of Johnson's career - although, the brute strength is probably what will bring in a bigger audience for Fast Five. After the interview, we asked Johnson who will win in the fight between Vin Diesel and himself - and Johnson swiftly told us that he "whoops Vin's [candy] ass."
One other action film a number of fans were hoping to see Johnson star in next is The Expendables 2. Casting rumors continue to swirl around the production, but Johnson gave his opinion about possibly joining Sylvester Stallone's star-studded cast.
DJ: "I think he tried to come to me for the first one. I was unavailable or something like that. We had talked about doing something together. I would love to work with him. I wouldn’t rule The Expendables out. Great success for him and I’m very happy for him – and all the guys, by the way! Really cool. But always, always flexible if the story is right. I’d love to work with him in some capacity."
We hope to see Dwayne Johnson in The Expendables 2 but are sure Fast Five will keep us busy for now. The action star sports huge weapons, massive vehicles, and a surprising amount of heart as Luke Hobbs. There is a fantastic scene of Hobbs and crew chasing the Fast and Furious gang down the favelas of Brazil that alone is worth checking out in theaters.
Hobbs' involvement with the Fast and Furious crew is still a mystery, but it will serve the story well for Universal to keep it that way. Johnson revealed plenty in his interview with us - which only made us even more curious about how the rest of the movie will shake down.
Fast Five slams into theaters on April 29th, 2011.