Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Dwayne drops The Rock for Get Smart - NineMSN - 16th June 2008

Here's a tip.

Memorise it or write it down and store it away in a safe place because it could save you from a severe, physical beating.

If you happen to bump into former professional wrestling star-turned Hollywood leading man, Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, do not raise the issue that he may not be as buff as what he once was.

Johnson, standing 1.92m tall, is obviously a big man, but he is also an actor undergoing great change.

Last month his 11-year marriage to wife, Dany, ended and career-wise, Johnson is moving away from the action roles that marked his Hollywood debut, such as 2001's The Mummy Returns and a year later, The Scorpion King.

The 36-year-old has been vocal about pursuing different genres.

He has also decided to drop his old nickname, The Rock, and will now only be billed in his films simply as Dwayne Johnson.

So, 2008 is a year of change for Johnson.

It would make sense if he did decide to lose some muscle as being slimmer would open the possibility for directors to cast him in a wider variety of roles.


Whether it was the light or maybe the long-sleeved dress shirt Johnson was wearing for this interview on a recent Saturday in Beverly Hills, it did appear he was not as buff as what he was.

So the question was asked.

He did not appreciate it.

"Since when?" Johnson, a former gridiron star for the University of Miami, replied.

Ummm, about a year ago?

"I actually work out more," Johnson said, making it clear he has not slimmed down.

Training, he added, remained an essential part of his life, although he said he can ramp it up or tone it down depending on the type of role he played.

"I enjoy training," he explained.

"Training is usually an anchor for me, for the day.

"That's how I begin my day, whether it's 4am or 8am."

Johnson's latest performance required him to be buff, but is a twist on his big screen action persona.

He plays the invincible Agent 23 in Get Smart, a Hollywood comedy based on the 1960s-70s TV sitcom of the same name.

Comedian Steve Carell stars as Agent 86, the role that Don Adams played in the original TV series.

The film allows Johnson to show off some of his comedy chops, something he proved he had in last year's Disney hit, The Game Plan, which earned almost $US150 million at the worldwide box office, although there's one scene that may leave his former pro-wrestling fans gagging.

It involved Johnson and Carell, as the good guy CONTROL agents fighting to save the world, locking lips in a passionate kiss.

"It was everything you imagined and dreamed about," Carell quipped.

Carell has had fun in numerous interviews to promote Get Smart recalling the kiss.

What did Johnson smell and taste like?

"Soft skin," Carell said.

"Dwayne smells like soft baked cookies."

Johnson lets out a nervous laugh when told of his co-star's memory of the kiss.

He had his own memory.

"Did you ever have warm chocolate cake mixed with ice cream?" Johnson asks.

"It's a fine balance.

"It makes you shiver?

"The kiss was like that."

And, apparently, the kiss was not a quick scene to shoot, with Carell and Johnson making sure the end result drew plenty of laughs.

"We did a lot of takes for that," Johnson adds.

"There was different types of kissing.

"Whatever the funniest way was to elicit great laughs, we'd go for it.

"But, it was a little awkward, though when I felt - just between us - I felt a little tongue.

"That was weird."

Johnson is looking to shake his career up in another way.

He says he was approached eight months ago to work in a theatre production, but it did not fit his schedule.

"In a way, for me, the world that I came from, sports entertainment, that was my theatre," he explained.

"I had 20,000 to 30,000 people to entertain.

"It forced you to have an acumen and be on your feet and that type of theatre really benefits me now.

"It was four hours of live television a week and there was nothing you couldn't throw at me.

"So, hopefully, one day maybe I will do theatre."

In the meantime, Johnson, who once was billed as the actor most likely to replace Arnold Schwarzenegger as Hollywood's number one action hero, will continue accepting roles that he finds challenging and a little different.

"I admire actors with a broad range of work - Tom Hanks, George Clooney and Will Smith, for example.

"I aspire to be that.

"Those guys put out great movies, they're not always box office smashes, but they're still really good movies and they have a broad range of work and they're good people.

"They're inherently good people and I like that."

* Get Smart opens in Australia on June 26.

Media Man Australia Profiles

Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson