DOOM - Q&A with The Rock - Dwayne Johnson
Movie Interview by Ania Kalinowska
The first scene we see you in [DOOM] you're acting alone, with stuff presumably coming out of your earpiece, and this sets the beginning of the kind of pure acting that you do throughout the film. A few years ago that would have been daunting, but here you pull it off very well. Is that a sign of how far you've come?
I'm not quite too sure how daunting it was - but thank you anyway! I make no bones about what my interpretation of DOOM is, a movie I'm very proud of in terms of being part of the sci-fi horror genre, but the presentation is popcorn; it's something where I get to be the big kid that I am anyway - shooting monsters with big guns - I mean that was awesome! But daunting, yeah, I don't know if that's a good way to describe it...
Once again you're number one in the box office charts! You seem to be in a habit of choosing movies that draw crowds. Is it through some kind of divine intervention that you pick them?
I'm not sure about divine intervention! But it's great to be number one in America, because as you know it's difficult to make movies - to make good movies - and we had a lot of competition. I've been fortunate to make movies and my goal is to do a wide array of roles, to be challenged as an actor, continue to grow, and hopefully have somewhat of a good sensibility of what is entertaining to the audiences.
Talking about doing a different range of films, your next two are GRIDIRON GANG (a sports story) and SOUTHLAND TALES (directed by DONNIE DARKO director Richard Kelly). Are these roles really a big contrast from DOOM?
Sure. After I shot DOOM I basically did two dramas back to back. GRIDIRON GANG I'm really excited about. Every once in a while a movie comes along that's not your $150 million film that everybody knows about and anticipates, but it's more like a $35 million, 'oh, what's that about?' kind of movie; one of those great feel-good films about hope. SOUTHLAND TALES was an awesome experience. I love working with Richard. The script - of which there are many interpretations - was amazing. I play a movie star who has amnesia (so I don't know I'm a star), always searching for the truth; I'm a paranoid schizophrenic, I hear many voices, I can foresee the future and the end of the world coming, I'm extremely neurotic (like many actors are!) and Sarah Michelle Gellar (who plays a porn star) is my girlfriend; Mandy Moore (who is a senator's daughter) plays my wife! So from that, you can imagine what the movie is like...
You went to boot camp for your role in DOOM?
Yes, we wanted to lend an authenticity to our roles and if we were going to be soldiers it was important to do everything like soldiers - even though we're dealing with monsters and we're in the future and in space.
You handle the BFG, the biggest gun in the universe. A few months ago Karl [Urban] said that he was glad he wasn't the one holding it. Is he just talking up?
Ah no, don't let him fool you, he's just jealous! No, no, no. I don't think there's a guy out there who wouldn't want to hold the BFG! Plus he's probably not strong enough to hold it anyway!
Size matters, is that what you're saying?
Indeed it does my friend! [Laughs]
Is this the kind of genre you grew up watching as a kid (horror, sci-fi)?
Absolutely! I was a big fan of ALIEN and THE THING when it first came out. What I loved about those movies, and hopefully what we also captured in DOOM, is just the atmosphere of tension. When you don't know what's happening - you hear things but you don't necessarily see the monster. It's almost like a throwback to the days where you worked hard to get the scare. I was and still am a big fan.
Have you ever played Doom?
Yes, of course! I'm a big fan of the original. I spent a lot of time with the software department down in Texas, with the creators of the game. My character doesn't call for a wide interpretation, but I just wanted to understand the geography of where we were and make sure the writers and my thoughts always matched.
Apparently on set everyone had to tone down the smiling because you've got a really infectious nature - you lit up the set. Was it all good fun?
Firstly it was the most physically demanding role I've done. Being away from home, never seeing the sun, shooting on a sound stage, waking up at 5 to do sound check by 7...Prague [where the film was shot] is beautiful but there is also a weight, a heaviness to it. So physically it was pretty demanding. But did I have fun? Yes, always reminding myself, this is movie making and that's fun, period.
Anything special we should look forward to on the DVD release?
Yeah, I always make it a point to make DVDs as entertaining as possible. The DVD camera guys were there every day on set, so it's really going to be good. I will do some commentary - I love giving the commentary!
You have a really small daughter. Is she aware of what daddy does? Would you like to make a movie that she would like to see?
Yeah, you can't help but feel that way as a parent. I'm happy to say my next project is a movie called Daddy's Girl - it's with Disney - one of those 'oh is that your heart? Let me pull on it for you!' kind of inspiring story. As for knowing what daddy does, she knows I make movies, but she's not aware of the immensity of what movie making is.
In your films, you often play unpleasant, mean people. In real life you always come across as a nice guy, really smiley and chatty. But 'fess up: what really pisses you off?
Actors who forget that what we do is a privilege, and who take themselves way too seriously. I take acting seriously, but not 'me' seriously. Not only that, we're not doing the world any favours - the world's doing us favours by letting us entertain through movies! Some actors forget that. They treat people badly - it's easy to be nice to the people high up, but let's see how nice you are to the crew or to the fan that's been standing outside for an hour to get your autograph.
Will there come a time when you will leave 'The Rock' behind and your films will star as just 'Dwayne Johnson'?
I'm sure that will happen. What I didn't want was to make a statement and say 'from this day forward I'll be known as Dwayne Johnson'. What has happened, which is nice, is that it's naturally happened where it's Dwayne Rock Johnson without my doing. Nobody made a big issue out of it. I think over time, performances will take care of the name. Everywhere I read now it just always says Dwayne Rock Johnson.