Now on its fifth instalment, car-chase movie franchise Fast & Furious has stepped up a gear with Fast Five. Director Justin Lin has drafted in pro wrestler The Rock to join the cast, and with Vin Diesel as his on-screen adversary, the movie promises to be an action fan’s dream. We caught up with Johnson to get the lowdown on his action-hero persona.
So, is it The Rock or Dwayne?
Whatever comes out. As long as it’s not ‘cupcake’, I’m good.
OK then. Dwayne, tell us about your role in new Fast & Furious movie Fast Five.
I play a special agent who goes to Brazil to hunt down Vin Diesel and Paul Walker’s characters. I enjoyed creating a new character and introducing him to the franchise that has been massively successful over the years. And the idea of Vin and I being on screen together for the first time was intriguing for me. [In the film] we’re not buddies; right from the get-go it’s clear: I don’t like you and I’m going to bring you in dead or alive. That kind of conflict right off the top makes for a really interesting storyline.
We hear there was tension on set.
Tension is good. Tension keeps people on their toes. I wanted to bring a sense of reality to the role. I wasn’t looking to be friends with all the actors, even though I knew them. We have the rest of our lives to be friends. That would have been very different if we all looked to be friends and buddies and that would have played in the scene. I didn’t want that and Vin didn’t want that either, so we kept our distance.
Was that mutually understood?
Paul Walker, Vin, Jordana Bruster, Ludacris – I’ve known them over the years and met them out, and they knew I’m not bad! They also know that I’m committed to my roles. They saw the energy and the vibe that I gave – they understood that right away. And it made for better scenes.
Have you put wrestling in the past?
I’m proud of my past and I’m proud of my wrestling career. When I was in wrestling it was important for me to be great and chase greatness. As an actor it’s also important for me to be great and chase greatness.
How did you make the move from one to the other?
I’d reached a point in my wrestling career where I had accomplished everything I wanted to accomplish. I wanted more. And I found that in acting. Acting was always a goal – when I was eight years old I wanted to be Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones. At that time I was doing parts on TV; I got a call from Universal asking whether I was interested in a role in The Mummy Returns. It was a wonderful opportunity for me and a dynamite launching pad. Best decision ever! Guinness world record!
What’s the highlight of your acting career so far?
That’s a great question! Over the past 10 years, the highlight has honestly been the opportunity to work in every genre across the board. When I first got into acting I was doing action movies, but I wanted more. I wanted to become great and I knew that in order to become great, I just couldn’t stay in the action genre, so I wanted to branch off – I wanted to do comedy and I wanted to drama and I wanted to do family and I wanted to do everything.
What about a low point?
You always set out to make a good movie regardless of what type of movie it is. It doesn’t always work out like that, obviously. Even with the movies that haven’t been that good, I’m still grateful for the opportunity. Stepping up to the plate and giving it a shot.
You don’t feel you’ve been typecast? Have you never wanted to play a nerd?
I generally play a guy who gets things done and takes care of business. I don’t get tired of that because it’s my wiring and it’s who I am. That means I can be funny when I want to be, I can be charming, I can kick ass, and those are just inherently qualities that are close to me. The sappy nerd guy? I’m not the guy they call. [Laughs]
Your Wikipedia entry says you collect kitsch porcelain Hummel figurines. Is that true?
That’s terrible! No! [Laughs] I’ve never heard that in my life. Please clear that up! I collect dirty jokes, and that’s about it.
Fast Five is in UAE cinemas now.