Brace yourselves. On April 13th, monster movie Rampage hits theaters. The Dwayne Johnson-starring film from director Brad Peyton (San Andreas) is based on a classic video arcade game of the same name, and has gone unabashed big and refreshingly earnest with its monster movie premise.
Originally released in 1986, Rampage the game had players controlling one of three humans-turned-giant-epic-monsters following some unfortunate lab accidents. From there, as George the gorilla, Ralph the wolf, or Lizzie the lizard, the player destroys cities around the world while attacking or avoiding cops and soldiers. It’s a pretty vague premise around which to revolve a film, which is why the movie only uses it as a jumping off point for diving into the monster movie genre.
In Rampage the movie, Johnson stars as primatologist Davis Okoye, whose best friend is George, an albino gorilla. When a mysterious genetic experiment mutates George and two other animals, a wolf and a crocodile, North America is under imminent threat. Davis teams up with discredited genetic engineer Dr. Kate Caldwell (played by Moonlight’s Naomie Harris) to secure an antidote, keep North America safe, and help George. Collider was part of a group of reporters who visited the Atlanta set of Rampage back in June. We talked to Johnson, Harris, Peyton, and producers John Rickard and Hiram Garcia.
Here are 39 things we learned about Rampage…
— Johnson called Rampage “easily the most physically demanding role I have ever done,” pointing in particular to a scene in a nose-diving C-17 plane as an example of the kind of constant, performative physical feats the actors had to do during production.
— At its heart, Rampage is about the relationship between Davis and George. “It still comes down to this core relationship, and that’s one of the reasons that really attracted me to begin with to the movie and to the script,” said Johnson, who has a special animal in his real life, too: a Frenchie called Hobbs after the Fast and the Furious character.
— Davis saves a baby George after his family is killed by poachers.
— Davis and George communicate via sign language. “He tells me, ‘I love you,’ I tell him, ‘I love you’ back. He shows off in front of pretty ladies, I tell him don’t do that [gesturing the middle finger]. We do some funny stuff,” said Johnson.
— To prepare for the movie, Johnson spent time at the Atlanta Zoo and at the Dian Fossey Foundation where he spoke with primatologists and spent some time with a silverback named Taz. “I had an opportunity to spend time with primatologists, understand them, understand what their passions are, what their goals are, especially when it comes to animal conversation,” said Johnson.
— Johnson played and loved Rampage as a kid.
— Dwayne Johnson, a self-described “animal lover” has dogs, horses, and fish.
— While Davis is good with animals, he’s not so good with people. “He’s seen a lot of the grim parts of the world, he’s tracked down a lot of bad people,” said Johnson. “So for him, the interpretation of what a good human being is is a bit skewed, but he is justified in his ways in how he feels.” Part of his arc is learning how to trust humans again, through his relationship with Kate.
— Rampage has more non-stop action than San Andreas, another team-up between Johnson and director Brad Peyton. “In this, with three gigantic monsters, especially at their height of the serum taking effect, there’s no time,” said Johnson. “There’s no time, and everything happens very quickly.”
— Fear not, Rampage video game fans. Johnson said there would be some Easter Eggs amidst the chaos.
— This is the third time Johnson and Peyton have worked together. They have previously worked on San Andreas and Journey to the Center of the Earth 2 together.
— Rampage is looking to break the video game adaptation curse. Johnson said the key to doing so is “like any movie, it all starts with story, it all starts with characters.”
— Johnson said of co-star Naomie Harris, who was nominated for an Oscar for her role in Moonlight, that she is “so incredibly committed and disciplined and phenomenal with her work.” He wouldn’t be surprised if she got some more Oscar nominations soon.