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Get Smart - Dwayne Johnson interview

Dwayne Johnson in Get Smart

Interview by Rob Carnevale

DWAYNE Johnson talks about why appearing in Get Smart proved an easy choice, kissing Steve Carell and tackling action scenes to maximise their realism…

Q. I imagine part of the appeal of this role [Agent 23] was paying respectful homage to a great TV series, as well as being able to have a James Bond moment?
Dwayne Johnson: Well that’s very insightful of you but my appeal to do this was just the money [laughs]. Whether it’s pounds or dollars, it’s all about the money! I don’t even know who the other people on the poster are. But seriously, it was a very easy decision for me to make because the material was funny, I was a fan of the original series and I wanted to work with Pete Segal, the director. I’d also wanted to work with Steve Carell so, again, it was very easy signing up. It’s funny, we mentioned money but I had this conversation very early on with Pete Segal where I said: “Before you ask, don’t worry about the money. There won’t be a stalemate in any way. I just want to have fun.”

Q. Did you ever imagine that finally getting to work alongside Steve Carell would involve kissing him?
Dwayne Johnson: No, I never imagined it… I dreamed it. And I have to say that once I kissed him, all my dreams came true [laughs]. In one night… it was magical.

Q. How many takes?
Dwayne Johnson: There were multiple. I don’t want to say we dated or anything but there was chemistry and we ended up going back to my place [laughs].

Q. The banter between yourself and Steve is very effortless. Was it strictly on script or did you get the chance to ad lib?
Dwayne Johnson: Pete Segal was very encouraging that way to ad lib and improvise because all of the guys in the cast are very talented in that way. They can do it just like that [clicks his fingers]. So, we did a little bit. But what I’ve found interesting since doing this kind of comedy is that people have this thought that it’s all just crazy, it’s all improv and we were like a bunch of monkeys running around. But the improv was very subtle and I think that created a nice balance.

Q. There’s also a strong balance between the humour and the action, which is actually very realistic…
Dwayne Johnson: Well, any time I’m on-screen it is realistic because I don’t pull my punches or anything like that. So, I hit them all. I hit Anne Hathaway and Steve Carell – right in the face. Usually, I aim for the neck [laughs].

Q. But the fight co-ordinator has credited you with requiring very little preparation time and yet being able to display great comic timing and athleticism at the same time? Is it as effortless for you as it sounds?
Dwayne Johnson: Well, they’re all very nice when they give compliments like that but the truth is it still requires a great amount of work and discipline. Sure, you rely on great stunt co-ordinators to put together great action sequences but at the end of the day it honestly comes down to whether an actor is committed or not. If they’re not, you’ll see more stunt doubles in the action sequences. In this case, we were all committed to it and you see more of them on-screen, which ultimately makes the experience for the audience a lot better.

Q. You mentioned wanting to work with director Pete Segal – now that you have, you’ll be reuniting again won’t you?
Dwayne Johnson: Yeah, I’d love to work with him again. We’re developing a movie right now that we could possibly be doing in 2009, which I’m very excited about. It’s about Captain Marvel. He has got a lot of respect and knowledge about that comic book character and he has been educating me repeatedly. Hopefully, that will come together and we’ll work together again.

Q. Finally, what was your favourite memory of working on Get Smart?
Dwayne Johnson: My favourite memory was any day that all four of us – Steve Carell, Anne Hathaway, Dwayne Johnson and Alan Arkin – were together. We all became great friends and it was always a lot of fun. I look at Alan Arkin, by the way, just like he’s my grandfather or my uncle.

Read our review of Get Smart

Peter Segal on Bill Murray’s cameo