Set Visit Part II: Dwayne Johnson and Terry Crews Are Out to Get Smart!
This summer, acclaimed director Peter Segal is unleashing the first ever big screen adaptation of the hit 1965 Cold War spy sitcom Get Smart on unsuspecting audiences everywhere. We recently infiltrated the Control Training facility to get an advanced look at this upcoming action comedy. To read the first part of our set visit, where we talk with both Steve Carell and David Koechner, CLICK HERE This time out, we got a chance to talk with the film's other two stars: Dwayne Johnson, who plays Agent 23, and Terry Crews, who plays David Koechner's partner in crime Agent 91. Here's how it all went down:
Get Smart Set Report - 11:55 p.m. - 05/09/07
Shortly after David Koechner ceased his interview, shooting commenced on the makeshift obstacle course that was being used as a Control training exercise. David Koechner returned to his post alongside Terry Crews. Together, they had already taken out the other Control agents participating in this war field reenactment. The only two they had not captured at this point were Maxwell Smart (aka Steve Carell) and Agent 23 (a very Dapper looking Dwayne Johnson). Both of which were hiding in a corner, swathed in a soothing blue hue of light that ate away at their facial features.
Out of breath, Johnson backed Carell up against the wall with his massive forearm. Dave called out, taunting him, "Hey, Maxi-Pad! How about I grab your ass in the elevator later? On your way to human resources, I will kiss you so hard that you drop the charges!" The sight of Carell and Johnson standing side-by-side in a combat stance is hilarious in and of itself. It's even funnier when Steve loses his cool. He turned to Johnson, "I can't wait to go out in the field and use real bullets."
A quaint smirk seeps across Dwayne's face, "He deserves to get shot." And with that, Carell jumped out from around the corner, shooting his gun. This deployed a beanbag that nailed Koechner right in the crotch. As menacing as he can muster, Carrell chirped, "Game over, Chatty Kathy!"
They repeat this scene a number of times. David changes his line readings on occasion, and then he would go through a string of silly yells as he is hit in the crotch with the beanbag. After ten perfect takes, the director decided that he wanted to get coverage just on Steve. It is here that Dwayne Johnson took a break. He used his free moments on set to come and chat with us...
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson
How long does your participation in this film last?
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson: About two months. As far as screen time, I'm not really sure. But you will see my character throughout the entire duration of the movie. Yeah, yeah. I wouldn't have done it any other way.
You have a five-year-old daughter, and I think Steve does too. Have the girls met each other?
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson: No, no...Not yet. They definitely will meet. My family is down in Florida. But they will come out. Eventually, our little girls will meet. We talk about them all the time.
Will they be able to watch this movie?
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson: Well, I mean, there are a lot of big explosions. And there is a good amount of violence. I don't think its that great for a six year old.
Tell us about your character. Who do you play?
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson: Agent 23 is the world's greatest agent. He has this tremendous relationship with Max. He is like my little brother. He looks up to me, and I look out for him. We have this really wonderful relationship...And I will be back...
(Dwayne has to leave to commence shooting. He returns maybe ten minutes later...)
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson: So, I am this incredible agent. There is a bond between Max and Agent 23. You see that bond start to grow in many, many ways throughout the movie. Then, in the end, you see the end of that relationship. That's all I'm going to say about it. Someone asked me what my screen time was. I know where you are coming from. This is a new character that they created. He is not related to the TV show. Once I signed on, layers were added to the character.
Were you a fan of the TV show?
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson: Sure, yeah. Big fan. Absolutely. Through this process, I found out they were doing it. I found out that Pete was directing it. I've always been a big fan of Pete. I always wanted to do a comedy with him. And of course I wanted to work with Steve Carell. They asked me to sign on, and I said, "Fantastic." We have Alan Arkin. Before you knew it, we had all of these people that were signing on. And then we are here shooting a movie. It's really great to share the screen with these guys. They have cut together a four to five minute sizzle reel just to get the cast and crew excited, and it is really phenomenal.
How do you feel about working in the comedy genre?
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson: I love comedy. Originally, about six or seven years ago, I wanted to go into sitcom comedy. But I just wasn't getting that kind of material. I knew the medium of television through the four or five hours of live television I did with wrestling. It was being on SNL that opened a lot of doors. I got the call from Universal to do "The Mummy Returns". But I still wanted to do a comedy. At that time I wasn't getting the material. We were able to get some comedy into "The Rundown". But the tables really started to turn when I starred in "Be Cool".
Steve says that you are really funny. Did you always know that you were funny?
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson: I just always loved comedy. And we always talked about comedic training, and timing, and that sort of thing. I was lucky in that my training came in front of twenty to thirty thousand people when I was wrestling. I wouldn't rest on the physicality as much as I would rely on the dialogues. That was some great writing. I was fortunate that that was my live training. It's interesting now, because I only get comedy scripts. I have four other projects that I am working on now that are comedies. I love working with Steve, though. He is very, very funny. He is also very giving, as an actor. Especially in comedy, because you rely so much on timing. He is very giving. Usually, you are around so many comedians that just want all of the jokes. Not here.
In the film, are we going to see you and Steve in a social situation? Maybe out at a bar, or something?
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson: Oh, that is funny. Um...No. I wish you would have asked that a year ago, we would have told the writers to do that. It would have been funny to have us do Karaoke, or something like that.
We know you do comedy well, you do action well, when are we going to see you starring in a big drama?
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson: When the material is right. It all depends on the material. For me, I enjoy acting when the material has more of a dramatic flare to it. But if the material is just that, it would have to be something really special.
How is it working with Anne Hathaway?
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson: Anne has been outstanding. She is incredibly talented and gorgeous. She has worked out splendidly. It is to her ability and credit that she can be self deprecating. She is great. She was great in Prada.
We hear that she gets to do a little action here?
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson: Yeah, she is great. When it was time to go to work action wise, she was all for it. She didn't want to use a double. She was terrific. As a matter of fact, we have a past. In terms of the movie, we have a romantic relationship in the past. I'm 23. She's 99. I am a lucky man.
Did you have to go through any special training for this shoot?
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson: No. Not necessarily for this. I did on "Doom". I have had to do martial arts and weaponry training. Stuff like that helped me with this. There were a lot of rehearsals. Pete believes in rehearsals. Yesterday, I spent a couple of hours rehearsing the action sequences that we are shooting today. So, everyone knows where everybody is supposed to be. That is important. I think, with comedy, so much of it relies on timing. Seeing where a joke falls, or if it falls flat. How can you change it. How many facial expressions can Steve make? He makes great facial expressions that I can counter off of. Things like that. The truth is, when you can spend time with Alan Arkin, you take it. "Can you rehearse?" Sure, I can rehearse. I would rehearse all day long.
Are you signed up for any sequels to this?
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson: Maybe. No comment, right? I think if it does well, who knows? I think it looks good now. If they can put it with the right music, and special effects, it will be really fantastic.
Are you going to be doing a cameo in the Get Harold and Lloyd DVD movie?
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson: Those guys are really funny. I'm not sure how that is going to work out.
Is it hard for you to keep a straight face around someone like Steve?
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson: The truth is, throughout the movie, I played it very real. If something is funny, I will smile in the scene. That last scene, where he screams, "Its 700 hundred pages, if you read it!" I smiled, going, "That's good." It does reach a few moments were it is difficult. There are times with Alan Arkin, where you see why he is now a two time Oscar winner. He is endlessly funny and very entertaining.
You were saying that you were a fan of the TV show. Why did you like it so much?
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson: I am a fan of any type of comedy that is physical and self-depreciating. When you are trying to be cool, it is really hard to be funny. The way Don Adam's played that, he would always give himself up for the joke. I loved that. And I loved the gadgets, too. We have some updated ones.
99 was pretty sexy even back then.
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson: It never changes with 99. She was hot then. She is hot now.
Do you have one gizmo that is your signature gizmo?
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson: Absolutely. I have a Desert Eagle that is very tiny. It is amazing. He has his shoe phone, and I have my desert eagle. It's very funny.
Does your character have a real name, or is he only known as Agent 23?
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson: He does have a real name. But, sadly, I cannot divulge that information at this time.
And with that, Dwayne returned to set for a little arm-to-arm combat. For a good twenty minutes, we watch him go at Terry Crews. Both are big men, but it is Johnson that has the upper hand in this fight. After taking a couple of well-aimed punches to the face and upper body, Crews hustles himself over to our little group...
By the time we see the scene you guys are shooting, you've already knocked off six of Max and Agent 23's guys.
Terry Crews: That's the thing. It's just us, Max, and Agent 23. We're good. Until Agent 23 shows us who's really the bad ass around here. That's what we are about to shoot right now. I get my ass kicked by Dwayne Johnson. How many people can say that? Wait, I guess it's a lot of people.
Is that the big draw for you, working with "The Rock"?
Terry Crews: I am just an old football player from Flint, Michigan. I have lucked out in so many ways. Getting the opportunity to work with Pete. Working with Steve Carrell, Alan Arkin...He just got an Oscar. He was dusting it off between scenes. It was, like, "Yo, this is the man." I just wanted to give Pete what he needs. The movie is really big.
People always pick you out for the work you've done. "White Chicks" was okay, but its you that people remember. People always remember your performance.
Terry Crews: I've been privileged in that I have no shame. What so ever. I just go for it. One movie that didn't get any notice, that I am really proud of, is "Idiocracy." It was one of my favorite parts. And I loved it. And I am doing the Chris Rock show. Everybody Hates Chris. I don't see my wife, ever. And she likes it that way. She's like, "Go get the money, honey. I'll take care of the kids."
Were you at all familiar with the TV Series?
Terry Crews: Yes. I used to watch the late night reruns when I was a kid. It used to come on after the Twilight Zone, where I lived back in Michigan. I loved it a lot. It's like, "Wow, here I am." They are actually releasing the old tapes. I was like, "Wow, now I'm part of this legacy."
How much of a role do you have in the film?
Terry Crews: It's not a big thing, but it's so many cameos. There are a lot of different people involved. They let me do as much as I could with the short amount of time I have, cause I am still doing my television show.
Who are you playing?
Terry Crews: I am playing Agent 91. I don't get along well with Max or Agent 99. Larabee, played by my superstar friend David Koechner, is the funniest guy ever. You can quote me on that. I learned a lot from this dude. He has no shame. He is the most courageous guy ever. I have seen him do jokes, and if they fall flat, he doesn't care. This is the next guy. He is a superstar. And I am honored to be paired up together as a team. I am proud that they thought I was good enough to be teamed up with this guy.
Can you talk about the transition between action and comedy on this set?
Terry Crews: With this thing, its weird. It's been described as "Die Another Day" meets "The Show". This is a big freakin' movie. When I see some of these explosions, and some of what is really going on, I think it is exciting. With Bond, he never makes a mistake. With Maxwell Smart, you can identify with this guy. Because he'll lock his keys in the car. I identify with him. I just did that last week. That is what is going to set it off for audiences. Steve Carell plays it so honest. There is no one else I can imagine, at this time, playing this character.
Your character picks on Max, right?
Terry Crews: Yeah, but we think its cute. Look at me. I am two hundred and fifty pounds. I've got three percent body fat. I'm ready to go. Look at Max. He is so cute. He's got his little gun. He's got his little shoes. We're playing with the guy the whole time like that, but the guy ends up saving the world. That's the funny thing. That's the lesson to be learned from this. You just have to be yourself. Do what you do, and everything will take care of itself.
Do you get to make up nicknames for him, or are all of those in the script?
Terry Crews: Oh, we got a ton for him. Maxine. Maxi-Pad. It sounds awful. We just come up with this stuff. Dave comes up with some things. But we are always doing it. You know what it is? Control is high school. This is like "Mean Girls" 2. That's what it is. Its totally high school. You have the pretty girl, played by Anne Hathaway. You've got The Rock, who is a superstar. A super-duper star. You have us, we're like the cats. The bullies. We're cool, but we ain't that cool. You know? Then there's Max. He's like this everyman who is just trying to make it. Then there's Mosi Oki and Nate Torrance, who are like two info guys who really want to be on the other side. But they know they can never be. It's like high school. It is the cafeteria. I think everybody is going to get it.
Does your character ever go out in the field?
Terry Crews: Yeah, he's a field agent. These guys have their own little specialties. Agent 23 is "the" guy. We can't compete with him. He has done everything. We try to whip his ass, but it won't work. He's like the big brother.
Can you improve as well as Steve?
Terry Crews: No, I can't compete with these guys. I'm not going to lie. I need my script. I get my lines, then I can go for it within that. These guys are from second city. They have been doing this for a long time. Sometimes, I have to be the straight guy. Someone has to be the straight guy, and let it go. I find a lot of the time, the straight man gets his joke too. These guys are geniuses. I have done mostly comedy for the last six or seven years. My first movie was called "The 6th Day" with Arnold Schwarzenegger. It was an action movie. But after that, a whole lot have been comedies.
Are you pretty good at keeping a serious face when you have all of these comedians around you?
Terry Crews: Yeah. There is a lot at stake. I mean, it looks like there's a lot of laughing going on. But this is a hundred million bucks. We have to get serious.
What has been the most challenging action sequence in this so far?
Terry Crews: We haven't shot the most challenging stuff yet. We are going to shoot the fight today. We got done with the easiest stuff this morning. We are about to do a scene were I swing at Dwayne, and he beats me down. Steve is hiding in the back. Dave Koechner has already been shot in the privates. So that is a done deal. It's left between me and Dwayne. It's the battle of the arms. It's the gun control. Its one former football player against a former wrestler. One person in the audience is going to go, "Whoo-Wee!" Then it will be over. When I'm lying on the ground, they'll see who means business.
How long are your days?
Terry Crews: We usually do twelve-hour days. It depends on what it is. Like, today, we'll take our time until its right. This is my last day on this one. I already shot all of my other scenes. It's all good.
Stay tuned for more on Get Smart in the near future. The film opens this summer, June 20th, 2008.