We’re back with the third and final installment in our set visit report series for The Call, which we visited last August. Up next is cast member and WWE Superstar David Otunga.
During our chat with Otunga on the Westlake, California, set, he dished on the suspense thriller, his preparation for his role as a police officer and lots more.
Scheduled to be released on March 15, 2013, The Call’s narrative revolves around veteran 911 operator ‘Jordan’ (actress Halle Berry), who takes a life-altering call from a teenage girl (Abigail Breslin) who has just been abducted and realizes that she must confront a killer (Michael Eklund) from her past in order to save the girl’s life. Otunga plays a cop who is drawn into the investigation in the film directed by Brad Anderson (Session 9) from a script by Richard D’Ovidio.
Sitting down with Otunga, the actor proved to be affable, engaging and full of surprises.
“This is my first feature film, and it’s a dream come true,” said Otunga of his role as ‘Officer Jake Devans’ in The Call. “I’ve wanted to be an actor since I was a kid so this is awesome. I mean, Morris Chestnut, Halle Berry, Abigail Breslin, Michael Imperioli… my name fits right in there,” he laughed with self-deprecation.
“Before this film I was a WWE wrestler and also a corporate lawyer, if you can believe that,” Otunga offered of his background prior to entering the acting realm. “I went to Harvard and then worked in Chicago for a lawyer as a year, and then I said, ‘You know, I’ve always wanted to pursue entertainment. It’s always been my dream.’ So I took this big leap of faith and went for it, thinking that if I failed, I could always go back to being a lawyer. But luckily, here I am in a movie with this amazing cast.”
That leap of faith wasn’t without study, however, as Otunga cut his acting teeth during his time with the WWE at Second City in Chicago, as well as the Acting Studio and Act One, and his preparation didn’t cease there. Upon landing his role in The Call, the actor prepped by going on a ‘ride along’ with the LAPD, and he recalled for us that while on patrol, he responded with officers to a domestic violence call, in which a female suspect had stabbed her mate.
“They were just telling me not to step in the blood, which was a lot of pressure [so as to] not mess up the crime scene,” recalled Otunga of his arrival to the location. “The police had the lady in custody, and they took the guy to the hospital for emergency surgery, and I don’t know if he lived or died. The homicide detectives were there waiting at the scene because if the guy died, then they had a case.”
“One of the funniest calls we responded to was that a guy had threatened to stab someone’s dog,” he continued. “So we rolled up, and the victim comes out, and he starts staring at me, and he’s like, ‘Wait a minute, this is going to sound crazy, but aren’t you David OTunga?’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah.’ And he’s like, ‘I watch you on WWE every week! Wait a minute; what are you doing with the cops? Are you a cop now?’”
As for what the narrative of The Call required of him, “We got to race police cars, which was really awesome,” said Otunga. “We had a scene where we needed to careen around a corner and then screech to a stop so that we didn’t hit the camera, so I was kinda nervous because there was no barrier or anything. So I started driving, but I felt like something was weird with the car, and I kept telling Morris [Chestnut, who portrays Otunga’s partner ‘Officer Phillips’ in the film], ‘I don’t know, but this thing just doesn’t accelerate fast,’ and then after three or four takes, I realized that we had been driving with the parking brake on. We do have more driving stuff coming up, though, so I’m really excited for that.”
Regarding what attracted him to the role, “The script was great,” Otunga concluded, “and I really wanted to work with Brad Anderson, and the cast of course, but I felt that I really saw myself in the character. He’s a good guy, he’s really trying to help out and he’s passionate. He’s a hero.”
The above photo of David Otunga is courtesy of the WWE. Our thanks once again to unit publicist Tiaka Hurst, who facilitated our set visit.
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