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Walking Tall - The Rock Q&A



Compiled by: Jack Foley

Q. So do we call you ‘The Rock’ or your real name, Dwayne?
A.
You can call me either. Everyone calls me Dwayne. I get a lot of friends who call me just, ‘Rock’.

Q. So you star opposite Johnny Knoxville in Walking Tall. What was it like working with that crazy guy?
A.
He is great. He is a good guy. I got to know him before the movie. He is a constant joker but takes his acting very seriously. I enjoyed him in the movie. I thought he was charming and funny.

Q. Had you seen Jackass before?
A.
Yes. I realise Johnny is a smart guy from little things he would do and little things he wouldn’t do. I thought, ‘OK, there is something to that cat’. When they brought up the idea of me and him, I thought it could be cool.

Q. You’re a former star of the World Wrestling Federation. But would you ever do some of the stunts Johnny Knoxville did in Jackass?
A.
I would never do anything like that. That is just crazy. It’s funny because people could look at what I used to do in the WWF and think that is crazy. I would take a beating every night in wrestling. There’s no off-season either. After it was choreographed, it was still always one man versus another. But when you watch Jackass, it’s like them punishing themselves.

Q. Has there ever been a time when you have had to stand tall, like your character in the movie?
A.
There was this kid picking on me when I was eight and he was in a grade above me and I thought, ‘this won’t happen anymore. I have to walk tall’. I waited for him after school, I waited until everyone was around, and then I said whatever a third grader can say at that point.
So that was my walking tall moment. He completely whipped my ass in front of everybody. I stood up and he pounded me. That was the first time. And then there were a couple of times later on in school. I wish I could say when there have been moments in my life that would lend to that level of integrity and that level of pride.

Q. What did you think of the original Standing Tall, starring Joe Don Baker in 1973?
A.
I loved it because I was eight-years-old and I was always a fan of that era. You know, like the old Dirty Harry movies? I also loved Steve McQueen and Charles Bronson. At eight, I was a fan of a story about a good guy handing out this old frontier justice with a stick against all the bad guys. I thought that was really, really cool. It wasn’t until I was older that I learned to appreciate what he actually went through and died for.

Q. Your character loses his cool and smashes things up. When have you lost the plot?
A
. Back when I was younger. I used to get in a lot of trouble before I was 18. I was arrested a whole bunch of times and it was usually for fighting and stupid things like that. I chock it up to idiocy - complete and utter idiocy. And just being silly and being a guy. I was born dumb.

Q. How do you react to negative reviews of your films?
A.
Any actor who says, ‘I don’t care what they say’, that’s bullshit. They do care because everybody reads.

Q. The final credits said you had your own hairdresser. What do you need a hairdresser for when you’re bald?
A.
She is actually a barber, not a hairdresser. And it’s funny, because you do look at it and you’re like, ‘Well, he was bald in the movie! What are you doing?’ But because you shoot out of sequence, it’s a big process, believe me. You would be so surprised. I used to wander too. God I have to sit in this chair for an hour. Shit!

Q. What do you think of being labelled ‘The next Arnold Schwarzenegger?’
A.
He has been great and very supportive. He is a very smart guy, so being compared to him is fantastic. It could be worse. I could be compared to other guys. But being compared to Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone is not bad. They have made some good movies.

Q. Did Schwarzenegger and you have a conversation about him taking over from you?
A.
We’ve never had the conversation where we have sat down and he’s said, ‘people are comparing me to you, I want you to know that there will never be another me’. No, he’s never ever said anything other than saying, ‘I’m proud of you’.
We were friends back when I was wrestling. We come from the same school in a way, in that we both have an athletic background, and it’s difficult to make the transition into movies. There are not a lot of wrestlers who are making the jump to acting. They try, which is great. Nor are a lot of bodybuilders, which is what he’s done.

Q. Would you ever get involved in politics?
A.
We’ll see. I follow politics because it’s important. But not right now. I am concentrating on films.

Q. Was there a point where you realized you could do this movie stuff?
A.
It was after Scorpion King came out and I started filming The Rundown. Having those two movies under my belt, I understood films a little bit more. I was throwing myself and immersing myself into the craft. I was trying to learn as much from being on the set for three or four months and concentrating on everything around me.
So, once that came out, I think I knew I could do it. I knew I could go through the process of film-making and going to hair and makeup and all of that. I didn’t have anything to judge it by. I just put my trust in the director and studio and acting coach and here I am. Maybe with The Rundown, the different type of reviews, it kind of started coming together.

Q. What are your hobbies?
A.
I play the guitar a lot. I have a classical guitar with nylon strings that Willie Nelson gave to me. It’s a classic. And I play with my buddies and we sit and jam. For me a relaxing day is just going home and not seeing anybody.

Q. Do you have a prized possession?
A.
I appreciate my guitar. The one Willie gave me because it’s one out of 100 that were made. From the beginning of time, from Martin guitar, and it’s number 88 out of 100. He gave that to me for my birthday. It’s the exact replica of the one that he plays. I also love my truck. I have a big truck. It’s like this big, obnoxious muscle truck that has 40 inch tires, another ten inch lift. It’s a Ford. That is fun for me. It’s a toy. Other than that, I am not big on collecting things.

Q. What are your views on drugs in sports?
A.
Here’s the thing. Drugs are out there, they will always be out there and I think people will always find a way to use them. I have never been a drug taker but I can say I have been around a lot of guys who have taken it, whether it be in football or wrestling. And that is fine, they choose to do it.
But it’s illegal. If you get caught then you should pay the price. Yeah, damn right you should. Just because you are a professional athlete you shouldn’t be let off. I have come from that world, too.

Q. In real life, how far would you be ready to go to stand up for what you believed?
A.
I would die for my loved ones. Not to become histrionic or dramatic in any way, but sure I would. I think if anyone is tested in that way, we’d all die for our loved ones. Well, maybe not every single one of our loved ones. Some of them you have to love because they are family. But for my family, I would go to the end of the earth to protect them. And I think that is the natural instinct in all of us. It’s the instinct of survival.

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