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Doom - The Rock interview

The Rock as Sarge in Doom

Interview by Rob Carnevale

Q. Congratulations on another US No.1 hit. Do you know when you take on a film like this that it’s going to be successful? Is it luck or divine intervention guiding your career?
A. I don’t know if I have divine intervention! But it’s great to be able to say you’ve got the number one movie in America. It’s awesome, as you know the moviemaking process is extremely difficult. It’s difficult to make good movies. So I’m happy. We had a lot of competition too from the Charlize Theron movie and the Dakota Fanning movie, with the horse in it.
It seemed like that was the big family movie everybody was going to go to. So it was great. I’ve been fortunate to make movies, and that’s my goal, to do a wide array of roles, be challenged as an actor, continue to grow and hopefully have somewhat of a good sensibility as to what is entertaining to audiences.

Q. But you took it seriously enough to go to boot camp?
A. Sure that was great. Not to demean the movie in any way by calling it a popcorn movie. I’d be mistaken if I thought I could sit here and talk about the incredible journey, or the arc of my character. You know? It’s not one of those movies.
But even though I consider it a summer popcorn movie we still wanted to lend a sense of authenticity to the role. So if we were going to be soldiers it was important to talk like soldiers, act like soldiers, use the weapons like soldiers, react to certain things like soldiers, even though we were dealing with monsters, and we’re in space and in the future.

Q. How was working with Rosamund Pike?
A. Rosamund was great. She added a really great anchor weight to the movie. I was very familiar with her background, when I found out we were going to be working together I did my research on her. She was great in the movie, she was a trooper. She put up with a lot of testosterone. Especially coming from me, our characters never quite gelled. She was great.

Q. Can you talk about the BFG – gun. Karl [Unger] said it was impotent on set, so was the special effect added later?
A. He’s just jealous, don’t let him fool you for a second. I don’t think there’s a guy out there who wouldn’t want to hold the BFG. And he’s probably not strong enough to hold it anyway.

Q. So size matters?
A. Indeed it does. [laughs]

Q. Is tis the genre you grew up watching?
A. Sure, absolutely. I was a big fan of Alien when it first came out, and I was a big fan of The Thing. What I loved about those movies, and hopefully we kind of captured that in Doom, is just the atmosphere of tension. You hear things, you don’t necessarily see the monster, you relied on that. It’s almost like a throwback to the days when you worked hard to get the scare. I was a big fan, still am.

Q. You are becoming known for a diverse range of roles, especially when considering your two upcoming projects, which contrast with this? Can you tell us a little bit about them?
A. Totally, for sure. They’re basically two dramas that I did back to back after I shot Doom. Gridiron Game I’m really excited about. Every once in a while a movie comes along that’s not your $150 million War of The Worlds or King Kong, that everybody knows about and anticipates.
It’s more a $25 million, $30 million movie and is one of those great movies about hope. Not that you’re trying to change the world or anything, but it’s feel good.
The Richard Kelly movie is one I’m really excited about. Southland Tales, it was an experience, I loved working with Richard. There are many interpretations to this script, as you can imagine. We all know Richard Kelly’s sensibility. I’ll give you an example of who my character is, and from that you can suss out what the entire movie would be.
I play a movie star who has amnesia, so I don’t know I’m a movie star. I’m always searching for the truth, I’m a paranoid schizophrenic, I hear many voices, I can foresee the future and the end of the world coming – and it does – and I’m extremely neurotic, like many actors. No names.
And it gets better, the guys will appreciate it. Sarah Michelle Gellar is my girlfriend, she’s a porn star in the movie. Mandy Moore plays my wife, and she’s a senator’s daughter. From that you can imagine what the movie is. I’m really excited about that, it’s awesome.

Q. Does your daughter know what Daddy does? And will you be making things your children can watch in the future?
A. You can’t help but wish you could make things your children could see, as a parent, if you do what I do. I’m happy to say that my next movie will be a movie called Daddy’s Girl. It’s with Disney, and it’s one of those ‘is that your heart? Let me pull on it’.
As far as her knowing what Daddy does, she knows that I make movies, but she’s not aware of the immensity of what moviemaking is, not yet.
Universal was nice enough to have edited down scenes from The Scorpion King so she could watch. It’s riding a camel basically.
In Daddy’s Girl I play a quarterback, the best quarterback in the NFL. He’s very brash, not brash to the point of being unlikeable, but someone who is loved. But my life gets flipped, turned upside down, when I find out I have a daughter.
The comedy gets propelled from there, into what it does. That’s kind of a cryptic way to describe it but it’s really good.

Q. Do people trust you with different things now?
A. It’s probably a combination of a lot of things. We had talked with Disney for some time, just looking for the right project.
I had passed on The Pacifier, I was happy for it’s success but it just wasn’t for me. I was waiting for the right opportunity. What was great was we had the producers of The Miracle, the hockey movie, as well as The Rookie. So it gives you an idea of the type of feelgood, inspiring movie it is. I’m very excited about that, sure.

Q. Are you keen to do more comedy?
A. Sure, I would love to. For example Southland Tales is a dark comedy, as well as a musical. It’s a lot of things. But sure. I love comedy too, I like self deprecating comedy.

Q. You must have been pleased with the reaction you got for Be Cool?
A. It was fantastic. As a whole the movie kind of got mixed reviews, but the reviews I got were pretty damn good. I thought ‘that’s all I care about!’.

Q. Your father wrestles, as did your grandfather – what were their feelings on your acting career?
A. They were great. Actually my grandfather passed away when I was eight, and my Dad never wanted me to be a wrestler because he came up at a different time in wrestling. It wasn’t as monopolised as it is today. There was no money at all back then. My family are fans, and very supportive of my career.
Making movies is special, we’re not changing the world but it’s special and it’s a privilege to do what we do. He understands it.

Q. So there was no sense that you were leaving the family business?
A. No, not at all, I had accomplished a good amount of things that I wanted to do in wrestling. That was great, but they didn’t look at it that way. My Dad just wants to be in movies with me now.

Q. Have you ever played the game, Doom?
A. I did, of course. I was a big fan of the game, the original. I spent a lot of time with the guys down in Texas, at Id Software, the creators of Doom. There’s a wide interpretation though, with the movie and with the character. I just wanted to make sure that I understood the geography, where we were, and to make sure that the script and their thoughts always matched together.

Q. Is there anywhere you can go and be unrecognised?
A. Not too many, anonymity has kind of gone out the window. I can’t just fit in. If I wear a hat then I’m just The Rock wearing a stupid hat. But that’s fine, there are no complaints from me, this is non negotiable.

Q. Will the name The Rock one day give way to Dwayne Johnson?
A. I’m sure that will happen. What I don’t want to do is make a statement and say ‘from this day forward I want to be known as Dwayne Johnson’. What has happened, which is nice, is that it’s naturally happened without me doing anything. I just think over time, performances will take care of any questions about being The Rock. Everywhere I read something about me now it says ‘Dwayne The Rock Johnson’, so that’s cool. I think it’ll happen.

Q. And you’re happy with it?
A. Of course, it’s my name. The Rock was a name I used in wrestling, it’s become a nickname, but Dwayne Johnson is my own name. It’s cool, right?

Q. What really pisses you off?
A. I can honestly tell you, what pisses me off is actors who forget that what we do is a privilege. Who take themselves way too seriously. What we do I take very seriously, but not me. There’s a couple of actors I’ve come into contact with who seem to forget we’re not doing the world any favours. The world is doing us a favour by letting us entertain people through movies.
That annoys me, that pisses me off. I’m sure you’ve come into contact with them.