In the wake of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson becoming a box office world champion, the locker room of World Wrestling Entertainment is filled with wrestlers looking to make the break into television and film. WWE, in turn, joined them -- the sports entertainment company now has its own film studio.
The latest film produced by WWE Studios is 'Inside Out,' a gritty crime thriller hitting select theaters on Friday which stars wrestling legend Hunter Hearst Helmsley (a/k/a Triple H, a/k/a "The Game," a/k/a "The King of Kings"). The real-life son-in-law of WWE owner Vince McMahon, Triple H is poised to take over his wrestling empire one day -- provided he's not too busy wrestling in No-Holds-Barred matches on pay-per-view (which he's doing on Sept. 18) or starring in action movies like 'Inside Out.'
Moviefone spoke with Triple H about getting into fist-fights with Hollywood celebs, watching cartoons about princesses, and one day making a 'Cannonball Run' remake with the entire WWE caravan of stars.
In my opinion, and I think a lot of people think this, Vince McMahon is wrestling, and you're going to be inheriting that position someday, so talking to you is like talking to Vince McMahon.
Vince doesn't do many interviews, so you better just talk to me. Don't be biased by all of the things you read about me. I'm way worse.
On one of the very first episodes of Smackdown you got in a fight with Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Yeah. He whooped my ass.
How hard does he really hit? Be honest.
Arnold was supposed to hit me one time and I was gonna go down. And then Arnold decided to jump on top of me and hit me about twenty more times, but it's Arnold Schwarzenegger, what am I supposed to do, throw him off and start pounding him? Arnold just got carried away in a live moment and next thing I knew, Arnold was on me like a pack of weiner dogs beating me senseless.
Hugh Jackman is guest-hosting an upcoming episode of Raw, and he joins a long list of celebrity guest hosts -- but was there ever a host that had a pedigree coming to them?
I'd like to give one to Bob Barker, just 'cause it's Bob Barker. But you know who I would have liked to pedigree is Al Sharpton. Al Sharpton was the guest host and he showed up ten minutes before he did his thing, he did it, and he left five minutes later. He couldn't have cared less, he phoned it in. It was the worst appearance ever.
Most of the guys come on the show and they know what we are and they want to have fun. Dennis Miller came on and he was hilarious on-camera, hilarious off-camera. Dennis came up to me and he goes, "My life is complete. I just got comedy advice from Vince McMahon." Vince would literally be like "Dennis, come here. You need to say your jokes slower 'cause..." Vince will give anybody direction.
WWE studios is still considered a new venture, what do you think needs to happen for you to have your "WrestleMania moment" in Hollywood?
It's a work in progress. When you start a studio, I don't care who you are, it's not like you're getting the cream of the crop pick of scripts. If you're an actor and somebody comes up to you with a project you're gonna say, "who's it for, who's in it, and what else have they done?"
I think we've made a few movies that have been decent enough for us to be able to start to get to a different level. Are we putting out A-list stuff? Absolutely not, but we're trying to figure out what works for us, what works for our fan base and what the general public will buy our guys in and not buy our guys in. We get the microscope because it automatically comes with a WWE tag. But realistically, for the amount of films we've put out, we're doing pretty decent, and it's only going to get better. At the end of the day, there's two separate things, there's WWE, the wrestling, and WWE, the business that makes that wrestling successful.
I recently got to hear your 'Inside Out' co-star Bruce Dern speak at a career retrospective. That man is one of the greatest storytellers I've ever heard.
The first day I met him, we started to chat a little bit and Bruce starts telling me a story, and they immediately call me to set but he's talking; he clearly hears them and he goes from one story directly to another one, no break, and now they'd been waiting for about twenty minutes, and they're freaking out, and he's still talking. And Bruce was just messing with them. He was continuing to tell stories just to mess with Artie [Mandleberg, the director].
Bruce told me one thing on one of the last days he shot. It was extremely difficult for them to get him to the set and he just created such a big stink. We got done shooting and he pulled me aside and he was like, "I taught these guys an important lesson today. It's always good to push them to see just how far you can get 'em." Then I realized, oh my god, he's been messing with them the whole time. He was just entertaining himself.
What does WWE Studios have planned next?
We just finished a movie called 'No One Lives,' that's a straight up horror, R-rated. It's funny, if we say we've got a few kid's movies, now it's: "all WWE does is kids movies."
I don't think anyone expected us to make 'That's What I Am' either. A movie about prejudices and bullying and the story of a teacher and a kid that gets bullied. It's completely different for us. But Vince read it and felt passionate about the story and said "this is a really great story. Is it gonna make us a ton of money? Nope." We're trying to think bigger picture and longer term.
Is there a type of movie you would love to see your studio make?
I personally would love to make a straight comedy. When we did 'Blade: Trinity,' even though it's a different kind of film, shooting the funny stuff where we could ad lib with Ryan [Reynolds], was the most fun of all.
Now what would it take to get a 'Cannonball Run' remake starring the entire WWE locker room?
That's not a bad idea, do I got to cut you in on that?
I'm just echoing the demand; fans want to see that.
They remake so many things, and I think, "Why would you even remake that? It was crap the first time they put it out." But then you say something like 'Cannonball Run,' where that would be phenomenal if they made that now. That's something they should redo.
What movies do you watch on the road to take your mind off the match?
Honestly, I don't. I used to, but we're so busy now with television and the behind-the-scenes that when we're on the road, I'm not kidding, you start working on that show when you wake up first thing in the morning. When the plane lands, you get off and try to get a few hours of sleep 'cause you're gonna be up at the crack of dawn and go home the next day. I have three girls, a five, a three, and a one year old. If it's not a cartoon that involves princesses I don't watch it.
We're gonna play a round of word association. Let's say WWE Studios was around in the 80s and 90s and you were a producer, what kind of movie do you think these superstars would've been perfect for: Hulk Hogan?
Oh god, anything cheesy.
Jake "The Snake" Roberts?
Any movie that took itself too seriously.
The Ultimate Warrior?
Either crazy out-there futuristic space movie -- or absolute stoner film.