John Cena on Acting
WWE's star talks about his transition to Hollywood
MF: Tell us about your mour movie, 12 Rounds (out in theaters March 27).
JC: First and foremost, I think it's gonna surprise people. I think WWE films has a good partnership with FOX. We put out a few films already. I was in The Marine. All of them financially did well, but you see the flaws in every movie. This is a movie that has everything on par. It's an awesome action movie directed by Renny Harlin (Die Hard 2).
How did you meet?
I met him in New Orleans and he was hell-bent in making the best movie he could. He didn't know me, he didn't know wrestling, and I'll be honest with you, he thought, "OK, I'm getting a wrestler, he can't act, so how can I build the best movie around a broomstick." When we finally met and hit it off, and he realized he had something to work with. It's very much Die Hard action, very Bourne action. It's shot a lot on hand-held so it's very spur of the moment.
How is acting on screen different that in the ring?
There's a big performance between performing live and performing onscreen. You've got 15,000 people here, some of them sitting all the way at the top, so you have to show them what's going on. But when you're on the screen, every twitch of the eye can mean everything. And just being surrounded by such good people, I got a lot of valued opinions that formulated my performance.
This is your second film. Did you learn anything from The Marine that you took with you to 12 Rounds?
Let the stunt men do their work. I did every single stunt in The Marine, and it was basically because I was stubborn. Looking back, it could have been better. Because I don't do that for a living. There's no shame in letting a professional do what they do for the sake of the movie.
Did you get to do any stunts in 12 Rounds?
Whatever I could do, I did. When it came to, "there's a chance you're not walking away from this one," we brought in the professionals.
What was it like filming in New Orleans?
Awesome. We got to go everywhere, from pretty radical areas like the Ninth Ward to out in the swamp to Bourbon Street. The city was so open arms about where we could shoot. The city is wonderful, filled with wonderful people.
Have you talked to guys like The Rock about the transition into movies?
Not about movies or anything like that. So many people question when am I gonna get out of wrestling and just do movies. I don't want to get out of this. At the end of the day, everyone knows this is where I have fun.
Do you envision yourself staying within the action genre?
I think so. It's kind of like our business, our fans need to identify with you before you could really open up to them. And that's my way to identify with the fans. Big strong guy, I can kick ass, here's my movie, watch me kick ass. And then when I get identified as that guy, I can branch out. Arnold was a perfect example of that. When I went to see an Arnold movie, I knew what I was gonna get. And then when it was time, he opened up and showed a funny side. It's long term, but it's all hypothetical. Right now, I'll just kick people's faces in. [Laughs]