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Movies and TV

‘Surprises and big stars’: Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is pumped about his ‘Fast & Furious’ spin-off

The superstar actor talks ‘Jumanji,’ meeting Robin Williams, his ‘Indiana Jones’-inspired ‘Jungle Cruise,’ and teases ‘Hobbs & Shaw’.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson had a busy year in 2017. The actor starred in The Fate of the Furious, Baywatch, and the upcoming Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, along with a new season of his HBO series Ballers.

But Johnson isn’t slowing down anytime soon. Based on his upcoming slate, 2018’s going to be even busier.

On top of a new season of Ballers, Johnson has Rampage, Skyscraper, and Fighting with My Family all hitting theaters. Plus, he’ll be filming or preparing to shoot myriad projects, including (potentially) Jungle Cruise, the Hobbs and Shaw Fast & Furious spin-off, San Andreas 2, Suicide Squad 2, and Journey 3: From the Earth to the Moon.

So, yeah, Johnson doesn’t have much time to sleep—but we know he gets into the gym, at least. Johnson spoke at length about his upcoming slate of projects with Entertainment Weekly, giving fans plenty of awesome nuggets to chew on as they wait for the release of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle on December 20.

Here are all the top highlights from the interview:

Johnson on the Hobbs and Shaw Fast & Furious spin-off:

“It’s been a challenging process because I feel like my intention from day one, when I first joined the cast, was to hopefully come in, have fun, and create a character that people will hopefully like and try to elevate the franchise,” Johnson said to EW. “But in the process of elevating the franchise, I have always thought that in order for this to have real longevity and legs, we should spin out and create characters that can live on their own.”

Johnson said that the film will have “a lot of surprises” and that “big stars” have been circling the spin-off already. “At the end of the day, the only thing I want to do is make a great movie for the fans,” Johnson said. “I never ever get wrapped up in the sludge of the bulls— that can be connected at times to a franchise. So I never get dragged into it. I never respond to any of that.”

On meeting Robin Williams for the first time:

After making the career change from wrestler to actor, Johnson was at a CinemaCon event and saw Williams backstage. The first meeting was, as Johnson says, a “disaster,” but was a memorable moment for the actor.

“I finally see him and catch his eye, and I’m like, ‘Hey, I just want to say, you are my biggest fan,’” Johnson said. “I was like, ‘Ah, s—! I meant the opposite!’ And he just laughed and said, ‘It’s so good to meet you,’ and gave me a big hug. So that was it. I made an idiot out of myself when I first met Robin.”

On honoring Robin Williams in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle:

“It was pretty nerve-wracking at first because there’s such a tremendous amount of love and reverence that people have for Robin,” Johnson said. “Anything you touch of his can be very polarizing at first. So I felt like the best thing that I could do for our movie was to try to get out in front of any narrative and let everybody know that we’re making this as a continuation. We cannot fill Robin Williams’ shoes. That’s impossible to do.”

On his new film Jungle Cruise, which starts filming in spring 2018, and is based on the Disney theme park ride:

“[It’s] full on adventure,” Johnson said. “Think Indiana Jones—those kinds of adventures. I’m very, very excited about it. This is where I really started to understand the power of Disney, just in terms of the deep dives that they do with their projects—with all of their projects. Because obviously they’re a studio and publicly traded, but specifically with projects like this where it’s based off a ride and based off a beloved attraction, like Pirates [of the Caribbean], so, so much goes into the work. And it’s so exciting.”

Johnson’s upcoming slate (not including rumored projects) looks like this:

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle - Dec. 20, 2017
Rampage - April 20, 2018
Skyscraper - July 18, 2018
Ballers Season 4 - Summer 2018
Fighting with My Family - 2018
Hobbs & Shaw spin-off - July 26, 2019
Fast & Furious 9 - April 10, 2020

Johnson should be plenty busy in 2018.