Dwayne Johnson returns to familiar territory this week with his latest film Faster. The professional wrestler turned actor dishes out old cold blooded justice in the movie directed by George Tillman Jr. that features Johnson as a man of few words who’s out for revenge. This weekend we had the opportunity to attend the official Faster press conference in Los Angeles where the actor discussed the project with the media. He revealed how he buffed up (even more) for the role, and challenged himself physically and emotionally as an actor. Faster brings the pain, and Johnson brought his A game. Check out our interview…
After starring in several successful Disney films did you feel like you had to come back to the action genre and make a kick-ass movie?
Dwayne Johnson: It wasn’t necessarily important for me to go back and kick-ass or go back and make an R-rated movie, it was just a matter of getting good material that resonated with me, that I had been waiting for, for sometime. I’ve enjoyed the work I’ve done in the past whether it was Disney or some of the other studios, doing comedies with them, but the philosophy has always been pretty clean and straight forward which is if I see something that I like, and I can see its value to the audience, its value to me, then I’m going to take my shot at it regardless of the genre.
Do you feel more comfortable shooting action movies?
DJ: Absolutely. Sure. Action for me, the genre, has always been my home. I’m a physical guy. It was also important for me to have a diverse career. I didn’t want to be defined ten years ago. It’s my 10th year now. I didn’t want to be defined or pitched as the action guy, the comedy guy, the family guy. I really wanted to do everything, take my shot at it, give solid performances, hopefully get better over time. I can come in and find material like this and step back into the action genre and do well. I always remember that the goal is to dominate.
How long did it take you to bulk up for this role and do you plan on sustaining the weight?
DJ: It was about three-and-a-half months of training but it’s not, I mean, it was probably ten pounds, or twelve. We had the great fortune of sitting down a couple of individuals who had served a lot of time in maximum security prisons for a variety of crimes including murder, [it was about] getting in their psyche. And their thought process and their perspective on what it’s like to take another man’s life. But their training itself in a prison yard, it’s a raw type of training.
Do you prefer to stay at a bigger size?
DJ: Well bigger is always better. I worked my butt off for this movie and it was a role that I was excited about playing, and it fit with the character who was incarcerated for ten years. Nine-and-a-half of those years were in solitary confinements and the prison population in that environment, the type of training that they do is very unsophisticated training and moving weight and there’s a density to a lot of prisoners muscularity when they train like that over a period of years.
In Faster, your character Driver has a one track mind. He’s hellbent on avenging the death of his brother. Do you think of him as a hero or a cold-blooded killer?
DJ: When I read the script I didn’t think of him as a hero nor did I think of him as just a cold-blooded killer. I thought of him as a man who was tortured, and there was a lot of turmoil going on. As he discovers things along the way, we as an audience discover things along the way too as well. That which he thought would bring him gratification by killing this man who killed his brother just brings him more pain.
What do you think is his motivation besides his brother’s death?
DJ: I looked at him as a man who I felt connected to in a way where the notion of, he took something from me, something that I loved and the only thing that loved me [ my family], and now you’re going to pay. I would go to the ends of the earth to protect my family, I think we all would so that was something that resonated with me. I read the script and I immediately connected with that man, a man who would do anything to protect his family, the only family he had.
How do you perfect the steel stare and how do you decide what stare to use and on which guy?
DJ: Watching a lot of Clint Eastwood movies. I think that question is kind of connected to what George was saying. That was one of the great welcome challenges of the movie and the script that these guys wrote [Tony and Joe Gayton]. It was the challenge of trying to hold an audience without saying anything at all.
For the cars you drove, which did you like better? Did you go to stunt driving school? Was that absolutely necessary?
DJ: The stunt driving school was necessary. Talking it over earlier on with John we thought it was a good idea and important for the film in terms of its authenticity to tie me into all of these shots and not cutaway to a stunt-double. If that’s the goal you gotta prepare. I went out there and spent a lot of time with Rick Seaman and I think it paid off and I think it’s going to pay off with the audience because we tied in all the shots. And the cars remind me of the fun parts of my job. I loved the Chevelle. The Chevelle became the character’s home, his family and I love driving.
Any chance Jason Statham may use you for a movie?
DJ: Sure there’s always a chance of that, down the line. I love Jason.
Faster opens in theaters on November 24, 2010.