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Interview : The Rock

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Born Dwayne Johnson on May 2, 1972, The Rock, has gone on to become one of today’s hottest rising stars of both the wrestling arena and the cinemaplex. Californian-born and bred by a mother of Samoan heritage and a father of African-Canadian heritage Johnson first showed an interest in sport at the age of 14 as a star football player for Freedom High in Bethlehem, Pa. But he ultimately tossed the ball for a stint in the wrestling ring, and more recently hit the silver screen, only to be swiftly billed as the new Arnold Schwarzenegger. CLINT MORRIS goes one on one with one of today’s best new movie stars.

Clint Morris: How did you get started in wrestling?
The Rock: How did I get started? I was born into wrestling. My grandfather was a professional wrestler, and my father was too. My Grandfather worked with Vince McMahon’s dad, and my Dad worked with Vince McMahon Jr in the 80’s. In 1996 I signed.

Clint Morris: Your new movie is called “Welcome to the Jungle”. What did your training regiment entail?
The Rock: I lost fifteen pounds for the role. I thought that since my character is a bounty hunter and is always on the run he should be fit and a lot leaner than say “The Scorpion King” would be. The character also has an affinity for cooking, so I thought he would probably know what to eat and what not to eat. He’d eat well, unlike me, whose pretty grabby [Laughs]. For my next movie, “Walking Tall” I lost ten pounds because the character I play is a Special Forces guy that’s just been stationed in Iraq. When I’m not filming I train one and a half hours a day. There’s a pro football team down here called the Miami Dolphins, and I actually train with them. I have some good friends in the team.

Clint: So what kind of food do you eat? What’s your diet like?
The Rock: I just keep it clean. Nothing fried, less carbohydrates. No Fatty Acids.

Clint: How much of your own stunts do you do?
The Rock: I did all the stunts in this latest movie, all but two. The two I didn’t do are the one where my character falls down a cliff. I decided I can’t fall down cliffs [Laughs]. And the other one was where I smack into the tree. My stunt double did that and he got hurt, so was out of commission for the rest of the film. I did all the hand to hand combat stuff. In the “Scorpion King” and “Walking Tall” I did a lot of grappling, lot of physicality used. Oh, and lots of rolling [Laughs]

Clint: You’re being labelled ‘The new Schwarzenegger’ how does that make you feel?
The Rock: Cool. It’s very cool. They’re such big shoes to fill though; I don’t think I could ever replace him. He’s been ultra successful, and he’s such a smart guy – of course, he’s now governor as well! But it’s a cool thing for people to say.

Clint: They’re talking about you as someone that might replace Arnold for “The Terminator 4” or “Predator 3”. Would you be interested?
The Rock: I’ve heard that a lot actually. I don’t know. Thing is, Arnold has put so much into those roles. They’re his roles. I liked “Terminator 3” but I loved the first two movies, and “Predator”, the first one, is just fantastic.

Clint: How was it having Arnold cameo in “Welcome to the Jungle”?
The Rock: It was great. He was really, really supportive. Within ten minutes he was in make up, readying for a scene. It was surreal having him do it. I looked at Peter Berg, the Director, and said ‘wow, is that Arnold?’ Someone asked about the line of dialogue he had [“Have Fun”] and where it came from. It came from Arnold. He made it up. No Oscar Winner wrote that in other words, Arnold himself wrote it.

Clint: You got to do a bit of comedy in “Welcome to the Jungle”. Was that fun?
The Rock: Sure. That was a lot of fun. I always wanted to do an action movie that also had comedy in it, like “Lethal Weapon” or “Midnight Run”. My Next movie is an even broader comedy role; I’m doing the sequel to “Get Shorty”. We start in February.

Clint: So not an action role then?
The Rock No, purely a comedy role. What I’d like to do in my acting career is diversify myself, learn as much as I can about the process as possible. “Be Cool” is going to be great, it’s John Travotla, Uma Thurman, Vince Vaughn…we’ve got this huge cast. And get this: I play a bodyguard who wants to break into Hollywood, who can sing, and he’s gay! [Laughs]

Clint: You’ve got quite a full schedule, haven’t you?
The Rock: Yep, “Spy Hunter”, and then “Be Cool” and of course “Walking Tall” coming out soon. I’m not complaining though. It’s hard to believe sometimes. I mean 7 years ago, I had nothing to do.

Clint: That’s a nice change then?
The Rock: Oh yeah. Better than back then, that’s for sure!

Clint: Have we seen the last of “The Scorpion King”?
The Rock: Never say Never. I think so, but, well, I’d like to do another one. I mean, there’s such a big gap in timeline between the start of “The Mummy” sequel and the end of “The Scorpion King” that I think there’s a story in the middle there too. How he becomes and all.

Clint: What do you think of the studio renaming “The Rundown” to “Welcome to the Jungle” here?
The Rock: I like it actually. I always liked that title, but for some reason – probably the Marketing team here- they went with “The Rundown” here. Maybe they thought people would think it’s about Guns ‘n’ Roses or something. I don’t know I don’t listen to Guns ‘n’ Roses [Laughs]. But yeah, I like “Welcome to the Jungle”, I think it’s a very catchy title, it let’s you know straight away that you’re about to have some fun.

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About Caffeinated Clint

The writer/publicist/producer who wears the editor hat on Moviehole. Favorite films include "Say Anything...", "The Hunt for Red October", "Jerry Maguire", "Almost Famous", "Die Hard", "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo", "Young Guns", "American Psycho", "Back to the Future" and the "Star Wars" series.
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