With director Jon M. Chu‘s G.I. Joe: Retaliation opening June 29, Paramount has been amping up the promotional campaign this past week by debuting a ton of character posters and a great looking trailer. As a fan of the first film, I’ll admit the sequel looks even better and it’s rocking a great cast that includes Dwayne Johnson, Adrianne Palicki, Channing Tatum, Walton Goggins, Ray Park, Byung-hun Lee, Elodie Yung, RZA, Ray Stevenson, and D.J. Cotrona.
Earlier today at CinemaCon in Las Vegas, I got to sit down with Dwayne Johnson for an extended interview. We talked about how he was approached to play Roadblock, the tone of the film, how he collaborated with director Jon M. Chu before production began, his thoughts on the brand new trailer and the sizzle reel I saw last night (here’s my recap), and more. In addition, with Johnson currently filming Michael Bay‘s Pain and Gain, we talked about the crazy story it’s based on, the style Bay is going for, and he also said that after he wraps, he’ll start shooting Fast Six in London and Berlin and then he heads to New Zealand for director Brett Ratner’s Hercules. Hit the jump to either watch or read what he had to say.
“I trained my ass off for this role, wanted to become Roadblock, wanted to pay homage to the mythology of G.I. Joe, and not only that but then pay honor and respect to our military in a real way where it’s gritty and rooted and grounded and boots to the ground, and we’re not shootin’ off lasers and shit; these are real rounds.”
For more on Pain and Gain, Hercules and Fast Six, click the links. If you missed my exclusive video interview with G.I. Joe: Retaliation director Jon M. Chu from CinemaCon earlier today, click here. And here’s my video blog recap after watching the 5 minute sizzle reel and new trailer.
Finally, a huge thank you to Dwayne Johnson for giving me so much time today and for always being such a great interview. Not everyone is like this.
- I thank him for the photo he took of us on set
- When they approached him for the movie, was it an immediate yes. Talks about the tone of the film and what he wanted to have happen.
- 2:10 – Did director Jon M. Chu give him an episode of the cartoon or a comic to look at before filming or was it all in the script. Talks about how he had his own interruption of Roadblock.
- 3:15 – What was his reaction to seeing the sizzle reel and the new trailer
- 4:40 – What’s filming been like on Michael Bay’s Pain and Gain and what is he doing next. Talks about Fast Six filming in London and Berlin and after that he’s filming Hercules in New Zealand.
Steve: I’m doing excellent. It is a pleasure to see you sir.
Johnson: It’s a pleasure to see you too. It’s been a long time.
I can reveal this on camera because you tweeted a photo of all of us on the set of G.I. Joe
Johnson: You guys were badasses.
I appreciate you putting that online because that was just awesome.
Johnson: (laughs) You’re welcome. We’re gonna get another picture right now but we’re gonna do it while we’re doing the interview.
When I see you and I see G.I. Joe, it’s like a perfect marriage. When they approached you for this movie, were you sorta like, “Yeah I’m in”?
Johnson: I was even more than “Yeah I’m in.” But also too, you wanna be a little bit poised with your excitement at first. When I first heard it, the idea of starring in G.I. Joe, first of all you get a second crack at something that is—the franchise is that big, the title is that big, the first one did well [but there was] room for improvement. We get a second crack at bat with this; I wanted to grab this by the throat and not let go. The moment I locked in, we all agreed, I’m in. I trained my ass off for this role, wanted to become Roadblock, wanted to pay homage to the mythology of G.I. Joe, and not only that but then pay honor and respect to our military in a real way where it’s gritty and rooted and grounded and boots to the ground, and we’re not shootin’ off lasers and shit; these are real rounds. Excuse my language, but I’m gettin’ excited right now. I’m gonna throw a chair in a minute (laughs).
Also, we wanted to pay homage to and elevate the fantastical side of G.I. Joe with Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow and the incredible ninjas that we have. It was a great blend of worlds, collision of worlds, and when they came to me with the idea of starring in it it was like, there’s the throat, there’s the grab, I’m in.
When you first were talking with Jon Chu, did he give you an issue of the comic or an episode of the cartoon, or was it all in the script?
Johnson: No, but I was already familiar with the cartoons and the comics anyway, and the mythology. We brushed up even deeper into the mythology because Jon has a great passion anyway for G.I. Joe. And here’s what’s amazing about Jon, he credits his storytelling ability to G.I. Joe. When he was a kid, he would set up these scenarios with his action figures, create sandpits and everything like that, go to school and come back, and they were these weeklong sagas. It’s funny how everything comes full-circle. The first time I sat with Jon, I said, “Just give me an idea of the tone of the movie,” that’s the only thing I wanted to know, because I had my own interpretation of Roadblock and how we were gonna pay homage to G.I. Joe and the mythology, and I said, “Just give me an idea of the tone,” and he said, “Rooted and real and bad ass.”
I just saw the sizzle reel last night and then I saw the new trailer, but the action looks really, really good. What was your reaction seeing the footage in the trailer?
Johnson: I love that. I love that, because as an actor you come with your interpretation, you spend a lot of time with the other actors, director, producers, studio exec—you know this, you know how the business is, you spend a lot of time with a lot of people. You lay your scenes down, then you have to put in a lot of trust into the director and the editing process afterwards. So when I saw the trailer—the same one that you saw, the most recent one—I loved it. I thought we looked strong, I thought we looked dominant, I thought the CGI looked fantastic, and I thought a viable story was being told in that. And I also thought that there was just a great collision of worlds, of real rooted military with the fantastical side of our amazing ninjas. Not only that, but also making sure that whoever you connect with as a fan, whatever character of G.I. Joe you connect with, you go home happy at the end of this movie, and that is important.
I am so excited for Michael Bay’s Pain and Gain. I cannot put into words how excited I am to see him doing something small with you and Mark Wahlberg. Talk a little bit about how that’s going, and what are you doing after Pain and Gain?
Johnson: Pain and Gain is going great. Pain and Gain has been Michael’s passion project for almost a decade, probably even longer. I had a chance to read it about eight years ago when he gave it to me, I loved it then. He went off, he did other movies, I did other movies too. Full-circle it came right back around, it was time to make this movie and it is coming along great; we’re kickin’ ass down there in Miami. What’s interesting is when you read Pain and Gain, you read it and you think, “There’s no way this happened. The absurdity of this, there’s no way that these men kidnapped this man, there’s no way that these murders happened, there’s no way that all this happened.” And it happened.
Not only did it happen, but these guys are still on death row. So they’re still around and they’re still telling their stories and it’s amazing. And then, when you start shooting these scenes and you’re bringing these scenes to life and you’re bringing these characters to life, and as an actor you’re reliving these moments. You walk away at the end of the day and you go, “Fuck, this really happened.” I’ve known Michael for some time, I’ve never worked with him and this is our first movie together.
Stylistically what he’s gonna be able to do with this movie, take the spirit of what he’s been able to do in a lot of his action movies—stylistically even with Transformers and then just in terms of characters that you care about from the movie The Rock or Armageddon and you blend all that together and you put it in a smaller movie like this, it’s percolating into something I think that is just gonna be really interesting to a lot of people.
And what I’m doing after that, I’m getting ready to shoot Fast 6. I think we’re going over to London to shoot that and maybe Berlin, and then after that it’s on to New Zealand and I’m playing Hercules, and I can’t wait.