Rock, The (Doom)


Gamers dedicated to the Doom universe found themselves getting quite a shock when they learned Dwayne Johnson, a.k.a. The Rock, would be playing Sarge and not the archetypal, appropriately named hero, Reaper. Those combat boots were filled by Karl Urban, but for the role of Sarge, director Andrzej Bartkowiak (Romeo Must Die) needed to find someone with authority. Someone who carried an imposing “I can make you pick your finger nails clean off and eat them like Frosted Flakes just by glaring at you” kind of weight.

Who better than Dwayne? Former wrester. Former CG man-scorpion (The Mummy Returns). All around ass-kicker. Charismatic to boot. I’m a fan, particularly after The Rundown in which he plays a guy who “finds guys” and does so without the use of firearms when things get tough. Doom…well, that’s a different story. Not only does Dwayne get some quality time with a few big guns, he gets to play with a whopping cannon nicknamed the BFG (that’s big f’n gun, to you), but not all was cookies ‘n cream on the set of Hollywood’s latest video game turned film, as he explains during the Doom press junket.

Dread Central was there…read on.

Question: So what brought you around to donning the Doom attire?

The Rock: Very nice way of putting it. I read the script and really, really loved it. I played the first Doom, like ten to fifteen years ago. I was a big fan of the game and when I was approached with it, Universal had sent me the script I thought, ‘Okay, it’s pretty ambitious to make this into a movie.’ Frankly, because movies that have been adapted into movies from video games have been okay to me. They’ve made a ton of money, box office-wise. But you kind’ve walk away [from them thinking], ‘it’s alright.’ I read the script though, I thought it was ambitious and I really enjoyed it. I remember calling Universal and saying we really got a shot at number one, [if] we stay true to the game and remained unapologetic in our approach, and when it’s time to blow demons away…we blow them away. When it’s time to die you die the way you should be dying in Doom. No PG-13 style. Not only that but that first person shooter sequence was in the script and, again, I thought that was ambitious and hopefully we could capture that. I thought they did a great job of capturing it. For me personally – selfishly – I get a chance to carry the BFG. I’m that guy and I get a chance to be just a real bad-ass guy.

Ryan Rotten: Given the heightened action, more so than your last project, was it a strenuous shoot?

The Rock: It was alright. It was an intense shoot, to be very honest with you. We were away from home for four months on a soundstage in Prague, never saw the sun. I’d wake up at four o’clock in the morning, no sun, get back home at eight o’clock [at night], no sun. Every day work for me was – you talk about going from playing gay in ‘Be Cool’ and singing country love songs to where every day we’re being chased, we’re chasing, there’s death, my men getting their heads ripped off, death and dying and all that – that was every day, so it was just an intense shoot. And the corridors…they did a great job set design-wise, I mean, it was dark and eerie, everything ‘Doom’ should be. We lived it every day.

Question: What do you do to stay sane in those conditions?

The Rock: I’ll tell you exactly what I did. I called my agent and said, ‘First of all, I’m miserable.’ ‘Cause you’re away from home, family’s not there. I found some great places to eat, because I’m like a cow, if I’m watered and I’m fed then I can work. You can work me all day, I’m good to go. So I told my agent to just get me one thing: a satellite, so I could watch anything other than CNN international which was the only thing and was driving me crazy. They got me that [to get me through] the tough shoot. We worked six-day weeks, French hours, where there’s no lunch break so the guy just walks around with food and you pick at it. That was it. I was able to find a good gym, got up every morning and trained, ate well. That was it.

Question: What was the most difficult thing about training and going through the boot camp?

The Rock: On my end, as far as training, was to quell my desire to pick the brain of the former SAS commander who we hand. I have a lot of love and respect for our military. It was great and the training really paid off and was really important. Whether we liked each other or we didn’t, it made sure we got together every day. It was an interesting dynamic.

Question: What was the most challenging thing you had to do on the shoot?

The Rock: Number one, from a character perspective, as an actor you want to draw something real from your own life but then I think what happens for me, in this movie, your being chased by a seven-foot demon. Other than my first girlfriend, I can’t think of anyone who reminds me of a lot of that. How do I prepare for that? For me, though, it was trying to find some layers for Sarge, try and make him interesting and try and add a little bit of levity to a story that’s heavy with death. Any way that I could find a laugh that fit, I tried to do that. The most challenging thing overall was just going to work. Especially during the holidays, I know they’re back home with the Christmas spirit. If you remember [the scene in the film] when there’s bodies all over floor. Those won’t dummies. They were amputees. Hundred of them everywhere. Between makeup and prosthetics it looked like their arms and bodies were yanked off. And these are real people, every day lying there looking up at you. You’re trying to watch where you step. These people had to lay there take after take. It was weighing on you. I’d call home and my wife would be like, ‘You’re being an asshole, what’s wrong with you?’ I’m like, ‘I’m sorry, it’s not a normal day at work.’ But don’t feel bad, we’re making a movie. That’s a good thing, we’re making movies and that’s an awesome thing.

Question: Did you bring anything yourself to the big fight in the film or was it all cooked up by the fight choreographer?

The Rock: Well, we had a guy named Dion Lam who choreographed ‘The Matrix,’ ‘Spider-Man 2.’ He’s really good [at what he does], he comes from that Hong Kong school, which is awesome. So, no. I love the process though, pre-production, principal photography, post-production, I love everything so to get involved with him and to work with a guy like that. He’s the man. I had a chance to work with him, I had a chance to work with Andy Chang on ‘The Rundown’ and ‘The Scorpion King,’ so I was really lucky. What’s great about those guys, it’s like, okay I tell Dion what I can do, this is the move I’d like to incorporate but how can we make it different? How can we make it special?

Question: We noticed that you didn’t get to use one of your biggest trademarks in the film…the eyebrow arch. Did you fight to put that in?

The Rock: No, no, no. I never fight to put that stuff in. The only time I did was in ‘The Scorpion King’ where we were in a harem. But nah, nothing like that [in this], especially no in ‘Doom.’

Question: Not even when you picked up the BFG?

The Rock: Well, that’s a funny thing because to me, even though it’s not eloquently written or anything, but it’s like, you pick it up – and this is what I told [director] Andrzej, there’s a few things you could say. [The gun] is huge. You would say, ‘Aw, shit.’

Question: I know it’s a prop but how heavy was it.

The Rock: The real one was heavy which was good because you could tell when I pick it up, the first time I fire it you take a step back, like [makes BFG noise]. It had kick to it. That one was really, really heavy. The one that I had to run with wasn’t as heavy…’cause obviously I had to run with it. Both of them are sitting in my house now.

Question: How much of the stunt work was you?

The Rock: I love that and come from that world so I pretty much did everything. I have a great stunt double who’s actually my cousin. He, when it comes to dangerous stuff, he was thrown into the wall here and there. I know audiences are very savvy and we all understand that money doesn’t grow on trees, and when I watch a movie, I want to see my guy [doing the stunts]. So if I could do it, I do it. It’s funny, I just adopted this saying, and I told Andrzej this too, I said, ‘Look, let me tell you something, if I can’t do it…it just simply can’t be done.’ [laughs] Which is bullshit ’cause then I’m like, ‘Where’s my stunt double?’

Question: You mention playing Doom the game earlier, are you playing anything right now?

The Rock: Oh yeah, man, I got the Xbox, PS2. I had the Xbox set up in the trailer on the last movie I was doing.

Question: Halo?

The Rock: Yeah, I like Halo. I’m big into Madden Football, you know? Played Halo for a little while, tried to get on-line. I’m excited to see what they’re going to do with the Halo movie.

Question: Any possibility of you trying out for that?

The Rock: No, ’cause right now I’m concentrating on ‘Spy Hunter.’ I just did the motion capture for ‘Spy Hunter’ the video game which is cool because it allows you to get out of the car now. It’ll be with Universal, this is one of those projects where we’ve had eight writers on it. Great writers, too, millions of dollars being spent! ‘Spy Hunter’ is just one of those things where you just don’t want to rush it. It’s such a cool movie, conceptually, especially with the car. I mean, you’re the hunter of spies. [Director] Stuart Beatty we all believe will come through, he wrote ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ and ‘Collateral.’

Question: Which fight scenes were more fun for you to do in Doom, the gun stuff or the hand-to-hand stuff?

The Rock: Both. I would say both, but I gotta say the gun stuff. That stuff was great. I was able to shoot some guns off in ‘The Rundown’ and ‘Walking Tall’ but the elements of the big gun stuff here, even if I wasn’t shoot just the BFG but the gun that I did have…just shooting at monsters, the atmosphere and tension. You kind’ve don’t know what’s lurking around the corner. That stuff was really cool.

Question: You’ve done Be Cool, Doom and now Richard Kelley’s Southland Tales, do you have any plan when it comes to choosing your projects?

The Rock: Yeah, just after ‘Doom’ we shot a movie called ‘Gridiron Gang.’ Every once in a while there’s that movie that you don’t know about, it’s not the $150 million ‘War of the Worlds’ it’s one of those special movies that moves people and it inspires. So I did that and then ‘Southland Tales,’ so for me I just want to do a wide array of roles that make sense and that I feel I can come in and do well with. In ‘Southland’ I play a paranoid schizophrenic with Sarah Michelle Gellar as my girlfriend and Mandy Moore as my wife, there’s a lot going on, I hear voices. When I first broke into the business about five years ago with ‘The Mummy Returns,’ it was a small role with one line of dialogue. I just want to be good at what I do. I realized then being on that set in Morocco and watching everybody act, I wanted to be good. And acting is not easy and I had a newfound respect for acting. I said, ‘Okay, if you want to be good you’ve got to concentrate and surround yourself with good people, good actors, good coaches and good technique…’ All that kind of stuff.

Ryan Rotten: Were you prepared for the outside criticism that you’d get then for taking roles like, let’s just say, you’re gay role in Be Cool?

The Rock: Nah, that’s fine. You’re gonna get that. For some it’s like, ‘Oh, you played a gay.’ And I’m like, shut up.

Ryan Rotten: Even in Doom, too, audiences are going to go in with expectations that you’re the hero, but they’re going to see another side of you again…

The Rock: But here’s the thing, though, with the change in this movie I still – and I’m a little bias – I still believe Sarge is one of those guys who’s a commanding officer in the military and he acts like what 99.9% of them would do which is, above all else, to see his orders through. Bad things are going to happen, and they do happen.

Question: Your co-star Rosamund Pike said that while on set the cast would joke about which demon you would shag if you could. She had one in particular, do you have one?

The Rock: That I would shag? I think Rosamund and I had different experiences while on set. [laughs] I don’t remember laughing that much while on set. Um, yeah…my favorite creature would have to be the Baron. Stan Winston and his monster makers are really incredible. You have an appreciation when you see something like ‘Alien’ and ‘Predator.’ But when you’re on the set, you get to see these things come to life. The guy – really big guy too, like six foot six or seven – gets in this outfit and he becomes eight feet tall. Walking, breathing and the texture. It’s insanely incredible and you’re blown away. And this is when you’re, like, ‘This is a cool business to be in.’ That was my favorite. That, and yelling at Rosamund.

Question: Was acting always a goal for you?

The Rock: It was, I just didn’t know how I was going to get there. I had no ties, it wasn’t anything like that. I played football for ten years and then I wrestled for another six and a half to seven years. Fortunately, with wrestling, it was on the medium of television so I thought that was okay. Originally I wanted to be on a comedy sitcom, that was my goal, but of course the big screen was always the goal. When ‘The Mummy Returns’ came along I met with [director] Stephen Sommers and was just so excited. He told me he had created this role, the Scorpion King, and I was like, ‘Great, is there any dialogue I need to study?’ And he’s like, ‘Here’s your one line you need to study.’ Since that happened, then came ‘Scorpion King’ and now, here we are.

Question: Is there any role you haven’t been offered that you’d like to? Like a romantic comedy?

The Rock: I would love that. I’ve gotten a few romantic comedy scripts but they just haven’t been that good. There’s a great project with Disney now that’s really cool which you’ll being hearing about soon. In fact, I’ve been getting a lot of comedies lately.

Question: Which actor do you aspire to or look to?

The Rock: Hands-down I would say Clint Eastwood. I’ve always loved what he’s done and been a big fan. That’s a tough question, but Clint, the bravado that he had and the sense of humor he has to directing now. I’d love to work with him. As for directors, Tarantino, all those guys.

Question: Are you signed to do a sequel to Doom?

The Rock: That’s funny because we talked about that. It’s possible. [Rotten note: A spoiler-heavy discussion follows which I won’t divulge here. Sorry, freaks!] But we’ll see. I’d love to though. That would be cool.

Question: You didn’t get to show off your tattoo in Doom, you had the “Semper-Fi” put on…

The Rock: Yeah, we covered up my tattoo and put that Semper-Fi on. I tell you, movie making is fun, it’s not changing the world or anything but there is a sense of pride when you put a Semper-Fi tattoo on you. Especially when I realized what it meant and the meaning behind it. It’s the heart and soul of the marine corps, we are forever faithful. It gets you really excited. I have a lot of love and respect for the military. That whole process took six hours, to cover my tattoo, put that one on.

Question: Are you nervous about criticism and the level of violence in Doom and how it encourages it?

The Rock: No, I’m not nervous about it. I’m sure it’ll happen. We made an adaptation of a very violent video game. Some people like vanilla ice cream, some people like chocolate, everybody likes pancakes. That’s what ‘Doom’ is, ‘Doom’ is that pancake. [laughs] I’m sure there will be some criticism. It’s violent. Some ladies walked out on the screening last night, I heard. When Dr. Carmack ripped his ear off and when the monster stuck his tongue out and it wiggled into his neck.

Ryan Rotten: That’s the beginning of the movie!

The Rock: I know! [laughs] Chicks, come on! It’s a movie!

Question: Were you ever grossed out by anything on set.

The Rock: No, I’m like a kid. Everything’s cool to me. When the monster’s dead on the table and she’s got to take all of its guts out…

Question: Playing the Doom game makes some people nauseous. Did it ever get to you?

The Rock: The first time I played I got nauseous then I read somewhere that that’s what happens with all the chaos and FPS. Then one time I went to Universal and everybody’s telling me to get on the Spider-Man ride. So I went on the Spider-Man ride. I’ll tell you something right now, I was coming that close… [laughs] You know how you get, you’re mouth starts to salivate, and I’m locked into this ride. It was the worst, so after that, no more rides for me.

Question: You’ve never been on The Mummy ride?

The Rock: Oh, I’ll do that one because I heard I’m in it!

Dread Central thanks Dwayne for his time. We’d be lying if we said we weren’t curious to see how Richard Kelly puts him through the paces in Southland Tales. The Moore and the Gellar? Yowza!

Look for Doom in theaters October 21st. Visit the official site by clicking the link below.

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