Bigger, Stronger, Faster brings to light the steroid use among celebs and pro wrestlers as well. Knowing what you know, do you still enjoy watching Rocky movies and wrestling today?
Absolutely. All these guys were my heroes when I was growing up, and I don't look down on them for what they've done. I was just disappointed when I was a kid to find out that everything that I believed wasn't really true. But as an adult, I'm more aware of it. I'm not going to be crushed if I find out some guy is using steroids. But I also think it's become so wide spread nowadays that it's hard to define who is using them. Even some Hollywood actors use steroids, guys who aren't necessarily big, just ripped.
What do you think of the media crucifying guys like Barry Bonds?
Look, if Barry Bonds is older and his levels have gone down and he's using steroids or growth hormones, the fact of the matter is it's still against the rules of the game. It's an unfair advantage to use steroids because steroids absolutely work and they work to a degree that we see people shattering records like Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson did back in 1988 [Johnson was later disqualified for doping].
Jay Cutler and Chris Bell. Photo courtesy Magnolia Pictures.
Most of the people you interviewed were very open about their steroid use. Why were they so candid with you, putting their reputations, and in some cases, their careers at risk?
I would say that has to do with trust. A lot of the people I talked to I've known for a long time, but I think that my strength as a filmmaker is really is just talking to people and listening to people. My mom always taught me to be a good listener and let people speak their minds and say what they want to say. It might also have something to do with the way I look. I'm 5-foot-6, 225 pounds and I bench-press 500 pounds, so they look at me as just another gym rat and they identify with that.
Is steroid use as prevalent in other countries as it is in the U.S.?
In the U.S., all of our heroes are sports figures and big action stars, so naturally we're a culture that's going to be more about physical image. As for other countries, I know in Mexico you can buy steroids over the counter in supermarkets, but it doesn't seem to be a problem there because their culture doesn't focus as much on physical image. A lot of the locals in Mexico told me that public image has more to do with how much money you make instead of your physical image. That's not necessarily the case here in the U.S.—self-image is a big factor here.