WALKING TALL - Q&A with THE ROCK
So do we call you 'The Rock' or your real name, Dwayne?
You can call me either. Everyone calls me Dwayne. I get a lot of friends who call me just, "Rock".
So you star opposite Johnny Knoxville in WALKING TALL. What was it like working with that crazy guy?
He is great. He is a good guy. I got to know him before the movie. He is a constant joker but takes his acting very seriously. I enjoyed him in the movie. I thought he was charming and funny.
Had you seen JACKASS before?
Yes. I realize Johnny is a smart guy from little things he would do and little things he wouldn't do. I thought, "OK, there is something to that cat." When they brought up the idea of me and him I thought it could be cool.
You're a former star of the World Wrestling Federation. But would you ever do some of the stunts Johnny Knoxville did in JACKASS?
I would never do anything like that. That is just crazy. It's funny because people could look at what I used to do in the WWF and think that is crazy. I would take a beating every night in wrestling. There's no off-season either. After it was choreographed, it was still always one man versus another. But when you watch Jackass, it's like them punishing themselves.
Has there ever been a time when you have had to stand tall, like your character in the movie?
There was this kid picking on me when I was eight and he was in a grade above me and I thought, "This won't happen anymore. I have to walk tall." I waited for him after school, I waited until everyone was around and then I said whatever a third grader could say at that point. So that was my walking tall moment. He completely whipped my ass in front of everybody. I stood up and he pounded me. That was the first time. And then there were a couple of times later on in school. I wish I could say when there have been moments in my life that would lend to that level of integrity and that level of pride.
What did you think of the original WALKING TALL starring Joe Don Baker in 1973?
I loved it because I was 8 years old and I was always a fan of that era. You know, like the old DIRTY HARRY movies? I also loved Steve McQueen and Charles Bronson. At eight, I was a fan of a story about a good guy handing out this old frontier justice with a stick against all the bad guys. I thought that was really, really cool. It wasn't until I was older that I learned to appreciate what he actually went through and died for.
Your character loses his cool and smashes things up. When have you lost the plot?
Back when I was younger. I used to get in a lot of trouble before I was 18. I was arrested a whole bunch of times and it was usually for fighting and stupid things like that. I chock it up to idiocy - complete and utter idiocy. And just being silly and being a guy. I was born dumb.
How do you react to negative reviews of your films?
Any actor who says, "I don't care what they say", that's bulls**t. They do care because everybody reads.
The final credits said you had your own hairdresser. What do you need a hairdresser for when you're bald?
She is actually a barber, not a hairdresser. And it's funny because you do look at it and you're like, "Well, he was bald in the movie! What are you doing? But because you shoot out of sequence, it's a big process, believe me. You would be so surprised. I used to wonder too. God I have to sit in this chair for an hour. S**t.
What's that tattoo you have on your arm?
It's a Polynesian tattoo and Polynesian culture. It's very important, meaningful and spiritual. It tells the story of protection and my family and loyalty and things like that. It covers my chest and my arm and it comes up the back of my neck. It's all one big tattoo. It tells one big story. I got it in Hawaii a couple of years ago and we covered it in the movie with makeup.
What do you think of being labeled "The next Arnold Schwarzenegger?
He has been great and very supportive. He is a very smart guy so being compared to him is fantastic. It could be worse. I could be compared to other guys. But being compared to Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone is not bad. They have made some good movies.
Did Schwarzenegger and you have a conversation about him taking over from you?
We've never had the conversation where we have sat down and he's said, "People are comparing me to you, I want you to know that there will never be another me." No, he's never ever said anything other than saying, "I'm proud of you". We were friends back when I was wrestling. We come from the same school in a way, in that we both have an athletic background and it's difficult to make the transition into movies. There are not a lot of wrestlers who are making the jump to acting. They try which is great. Nor are a lot of bodybuilders which is what he's done.
Would you ever get involved in politics?
We'll see. I follow politics because it's important. But not right now. I am concentrating on films.
Was there a point where you realized you could do this movie stuff?
It was after SCORPION KING came out and I started filming THE RUNDOWN [(US) aka WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE (UK)]. Having those two movies under my belt, I understood films a little bit more. I was throwing myself and immersing myself into the craft. I was trying to learn as much from being on the set for three or four months and concentrating on everything around me. So once that came out I think I knew I could do it. I knew I could go through the process of filmmaking and going to hair and makeup and all of that. I didn't have anything to judge it by. I just put my trust in the director and studio and acting coach and here I am. Maybe with THE RUNDOWN, the different type of reviews, it kind of started coming together.
How much did hosting SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE help you?
It opened up a lot of doors. It was big. People were "Wow" That's when a lot of comics started coming to me. You can't help but learn something with those guys and you are forced to be funny or not. You either bomb on the spot, because there is no editing, or you do well. You test your timing and it is great. In a movie like THE RUNDOWN I had Seann William Scott and Christopher Walken to play off but in SNL you have all these characters and they all play very big and over the top. So you have all these opportunities to test your timing.
I heard you were a pretty handy chef?
I think I am. But the truth is I am not good at all. I fancy myself making a really good omelet. I think I am good just because I can put cheese inside the omelet and not burn it. To me that is good. And I think I am good because I can do all of these things and clean the pot at the same time. By the time the meal is on the plate, there are no dishes to be cleaned. That's what makes me good to me.
Don't you have aspirations of owning your own restaurant?
No, that was my character in THE RUNDOWN. Not in real life. I was probably bulls****ing if I said that.
What are your hobbies?
I play the guitar a lot. I have a classical guitar with nylon strings that Willie Nelson gave to me. It's a classic. And I play with my buddies and we sit and jam. For me a relaxing day is just going home and not seeing anybody.
Do you have a prized possession?
I appreciate my guitar. The one Willie gave me because it's one out of 100 that were made. From the beginning of time, from Martin guitar, and it's number 88 out of 100. He gave that to me for my birthday. It's the exact replica of the one that he plays. I also love my truck. I have a big truck. It's like this big, obnoxious muscle truck that has 40-inch tires, another ten-inch lift. It's a Ford. That is fun for me. It's a toy. Other than that, I am not big on collecting things.
What do you do with that truck?
I drive it. It's here. You should see me pulling up to the Four Seasons Hotel in that truck. It's all jacked up.
Does it fit in the garage?
No, it's probably out there somewhere.
So you look all Hollywood, cruising around?
Well, that's just it. It's so not Hollywood. It's not a Lamborghini, it's not a Porsche. I'm not big on sports cars. I don't fit in them anyway. It's not a Mercedes. It's just a Ford. It's a pickup. It's not chromed out. It's black and everything is black on it. There is nothing shiny.
When has your size been a hindrance for you?
Honestly, just with clothes. It hasn't been a hindrance in terms of casting.
You joked before you can't get into sports cars....
Sports cars for me are out of the question. A buddy of mine is Chris Tucker but he's my height. He owns a Lamborghini but I can't get in it. And it's hard for me to understand to pay that much money for a car. I can't. I just can't. My truck was like $30,000. That's it.
What are your views on drugs in sports?
Here's the thing. Drugs are out there, they will always be out there and I think people will always find a way to use them. I have never been a drug taker but I can say I have been around a lot of guys who have taken it, whether it be in football or wrestling. And that is fine, they choose to do it. But it's illegal. If you get caught then you should pay the price. Yeah, damn right you should. Just because you are a professional athlete you shouldn't be let off. I have come from that world, too.
In real life, how far would you be ready to go to stand up for what you believed?
I would die for my loved ones. Not to become histrionic or dramatic in any way but sure I would. I think if anyone is tested in that way we'd all die for our loved ones. Well, maybe not every single one of our loved ones. Some of them you have to love because they are family. But for my family I would go to the end of the earth to protect them. And I think that is the natural instinct in all of us. It's the instinct of survival.
What are your musical tastes?
I love blues, country and hip-hop. I love old country, though like Willie Nelson. And hip-hop.
Is there one particular CD?
My three favorite performers would have to be Willie Nelson, Sam Cook and Elvis Presley.
And books? What is your favorite book? What are you reading right now?
Dr. Seuss has an amazing book out now called Green Eggs and Ham. It's a popup book. No! I'm just kidding!
What three movies would you have to have on DVD?
That's a big thing. THE GODFATHER I and II, COAL MINER'S DAUGHTER and THE RUNDOWN.
Question & Answer Text Copyright Twentieth Century Fox