With “Journey 2: the Mysterious Island,” Dwayne Johnson steps into a franchise already in progress — something he’s making a habit of after last year’s “Fast Five” and this summer’s “G.I. Joe: Retribution.” And it’s a habit the former wrestler is more than happy with, as it’s earned him quite a unique nickname.
Once again, you’re coming into a franchise that’s already up and running. Is this part of a particular career plan?
No, it was never a career decision to join franchises. What is a very concerted decision was to come into a film and elevate it. And I’ve got to tell you, Ned, this is where I’ve been fortunate because the franchises that I have been involved with — “G.I. Joe,” “Fast Five” and now “Journey” — had a built-in audience, built-in success, gave me the opportunity to create a character that no one had seen — no one had seen this character in “Journey,” no one had seen Hobbs in “Fast Five,” no one had seen Roadblock in “G.I. Joe” — create a character from scratch, essentially, come in and elevate. And come in, honestly, and kick ass. And I like that. A studio executive the other day said, “You are the most legitimate franchise Viagra in Hollywood I’ve ever seen.” (laughs)
You’re one of the savviest actors working, in terms of choosing projects and positioning yourself. It seems like you understand the business of Hollywood a lot better than other actors. Where do you think that comes from?
I think, honestly, I’m going to give a lot of credit to the business I grew up in, and that was the business of professional wrestling. While it may not be everyone’s cup of tea — understandably so — in its rawest essence, wrestling is about entertaining the audiences without ego. Now in wrestling, there are incredibly large, inflated egos, as you know, but you put your ego aside and have that notion in mind of what is going to entertain the audiences. So I think in that spirit, that’s allowed me to go from being the Tooth Fairy to a hunter of men and doing bad things to bad men when I hunt them down to “Journey.”
You’ve worked before with Brendan Frasier, who starred in the first film but didn’t return for this one. Did you get a chance to talk to him before taking on the role?
Good question, but no, we never had any dialogue. I didn’t get a chance to talk to Brendan. I know that the studio came to me and they were clear in their vision for the movie in terms of “we want to reboot this franchise and we want you to star in it.” There was a lot of work that had to be done because, you know, Brendan has a certain style that works for him — and audiences love that, by the way. And the success of the first movie proved that. But I have a much different style from Brendan, so it required some work from the ground up. But no, I didn’t get a chance to speak with Brendan. Funny, you just made me think about this, that’s two franchises now that I’ve come into of his. How many is that now, four?
It might be. But four is a lot.
Yeah, four is a lot, but you know. Time for the thumb now. We need one for the thumb, we need five. Plus we need to uphold the Franchise Viagra title.
I got the feeling if Luis Guzman’s character hadn’t been in the movie, you would’ve gotten a lot more goo on you.
Well, that’s how committed Luis Guzman is. But to be frank and honest with you, he’s such a committed actor and he has a Method approach to acting that is second to none, which is why he insisted on having a bucket of real bird s--- thrown on him. And that’s what it was, so I’m telling you and Metro the big secret. It’s real bird s--- that actually came from pigeons. But! But they were albino pigeons, which makes it just slightly better. (laughs)