Next, we chatted with the man himself, The Rock aka Dwayne Johnson. I'd met Rock once before on the Santa Monica beach for a Mummy Returns DVD event and he was a great interview - something I attributed to the fact that he was still new at doing neverending press. Wrong-o. He was just as cool at the Walking Tall junket as he was then. Great interview, great guy.
Q: Is Be Cool a real departure for you? You play a gay, country singer...
Rock: A gay villain? Yeah. It's so funny because Elmore Leonard wrote it and when he wrote it in the original draft, it's 'Chili Palmer - who's John Travolta's character - looks across the room and he sees Elliot Wilhelm, Samoan, 30, can raise one eyebrow. Trying to act. Wants to be the real thing. And is gay.' I was like, 'Wow, that's interesting!' I didn't actually speak to Elmore, but according to those who talked to him, he's like, 'Oh, no - I wrote that based on The Rock. Not necessarily the gay part, but based on him - never ever thinking he would play the role.' Before you know, here I am playing the role.
Q: How's that experience been?
Rock: Oh, it's been fantastic. I get the chance to work with John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Harvey Keitel, Vince Vaughn - it's great.
Q: It's also not an action role, right?
Rock: Yeah, there's no action in the movie. It's fantastic because again, you get to test your comedic timing off some really, really good actors. It's a blast.
Q: Is it a way for audiences to see beyond the action stuff?
Rock: Yeah, for sure. I took the role because it was a great opportunity to work with great actors, take a role that you wouldn't necessarily expect me to play - being a bad guy, being gay, poking fun at myself and raising my eyebrow to John Travolta like, 'I got talent!' It's a lot of fun.
Q: You also physically transform yourself...
Rock: That was important, too, to take a role like this and try to transform myself as best as I possibly could. Afro, the goatee is a lot thicker.
Q: Do you know when you start Spyhunter?
Rock: Yeah, you bet - in July. Can't wait. I was just up in the room doing an awesome, secretive meeting. We took out all the concepts and what it looks like - the car. It's a movie based off a videogame. It's with Universal and the videogame is about a hunter of spies, hence the title. The car - it's this awesome car. GM is making us this amazing car that breaks off into a boat into a three-wheeler into a motorcycle. It's really incredible.
Later, he brought up his passion project - King Kamehameha...
Rock: When I do King Kamehameha, which is based on the story of the King of Hawaii, he was like Braveheart - only worse in terms of his viciousness and his temperament.
Q: When is that happening?
Rock: Hopefully, probably, maybe 2005. There's no rush for that for me. As an actor, I just want to be ready. The script is ready and they're just working on it and tweaking it and making it right, so there's no rush.
Q: Are you developing anything else at the moment?
Rock: There's a comedy that I'm excited about that I might do after Spyhunter called Skiptracer and it's from the writer of Big Daddy, Stevie Franks. It's very, very funny. It's an action-comedy with a lot of comedy. It's a two-hander, so it's a buddy movie and my buddy is a nine year-old girl.
Q: Do you know who they're going to cast in that?
Rock: I don't know. They were talking about Keisha Castle-Hughes because we're of the same descent, but I think she's a little older.
Q: Is the 'Theme from Peter Gunn' going to be a part of the Spyhunter movie?
Rock: Yeah, it has to be. A version of it - a contemporary version. But it's great.
Q: Is Spyhunter a more serious role?
Rock: It's like Mission: Impossible was for Tom Cruise. Like that and it is smartly written.
Q: A franchise-starter?
Rock: It's a possibility.
Q: Are you producing Kamehameha or how did that ball get rolling?
Rock: I bought the...
Q: The rights?
Rock: No, they already had the rights at Columbia, but they weren't going to do anything with it. I don't know why, but it's really an amazing story that hasn't been told - probably because they haven't found the right guy who can pull it off. Not just acting, but who could be believable as Kamehameha. That would be like what Ali was to Will Smith for me. Not that I'm looking to get nominated, but that project that you hold.
Q: Who'd direct that?
Rock: I don't know. Somebody awesome.
Q: You have anybody in mind?
Rock: I mean, oh, sure. Steven Spielberg! I don't know. There are many.
Alessandro "Hercules" Boondy
Just so you guys know: 75% of this crap [you read on the internet] is made up, either by the writer, or the wrestler the writer is getting the dirt from. Just so you know. -- Statement by "Tammy Sytch", from Hyatte's Dec. 29th column ... Lest we forget.
I'd love to see Rocky take on HBK sure...But Rock is gonna put over young guys like usual. They way things are going it looks like a Rock/Cena or Rock/Dupree next year. Both, while not a classic in the ring like Rock/HBK would be, will have awesome promos leading up to WM.
Just to cloud things a little, in today's `backstage' column on the TNA site, Bob Ryder writes: You know those phone calls I have been mentioning? The ones coming to the TNA offices from people you wouldn't expect to be calling?