WWE Superstar Ted DiBiase talks about being the star of his first feature film
For those who follow professional wrestling either now or back in the 80s, the name Ted DiBiase will surely ring a bell. Ted DiBiase Sr. wrestled under the moniker "The Million Dollar Man" and his son, Ted DiBiase Jr. just goes by Ted DiBiase and is one of the rising stars of World Wrestling Entertainment. Like many of the WWE's stars such as Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, Kane and John Cena, DiBiase has branched out into film work, with his first role in a feature film as the lead in The Marine 2, which arrives on DVD and Blu-ray on December 29. I had the chance to speak with DiBiase over the phone about his feature film debut, and here's what he had to say.
I was wondering how this whole thing came about for you. Were you looking for a film opportunity or did it just fall into your lap? How did this all work out for you?
Ted DiBiase: Honestly man, I was just doing my job as a wrestler, sports entertainer, and they came to me one day. Someone approached me and said, 'We need you to come in early next weekend because we want you to read for this movie role.' I got excited and thought it was pretty cool. I thought maybe I'd be an extra or have a scene in one of John's (Cena) movies, I had no idea what it was for. I showed up and they gave me a script. I looked at it once or twice and I thought I was really going to give this my best shot. I went in and did a few scenes and afterwards they said, 'How long have you been acting?' I looked at my watch and said, 'Well, about 15, 20 minutes, since I walked through the door.' They couldn't believe it and, this is all new to me, so I didn't know what they saw. They said they'd be in touch and they called me a week later. I remember getting off a plane, coming back from France. We had been in Europe and I was just dead tired. I got a call as we got off the plane and it was Mike Lake, who used to be with WWE Studios. He said, 'Hey Ted. I've got some good news, and some bad news.' I said, 'What's the bad news?' He said, 'Well the bad news is you're getting married on December 6.' I said, 'OK, that's bad news?' He said, "Yeah, because the good news is you got the part in the movie and we're going to be filming at that time.' I didn't even know I got the lead role and he said, 'You got the lead role. You're the Marine.' After that, it was a big challenge and a new adventure for me and something I ended up falling in love with. I really enjoyed doing this, so hopefully there will be more.
With this being your first movie role, did you go to Cena or Kane or any of the other guys for maybe a few tips before you went on the set?
Ted DiBiase: I asked John Cena, 'What's the best advice you can give me?' since we both have a lot in common. He said, 'You know what, Teddy, just be yourself.' That was really all he told me. I've always been very teachable, eager to learn. I'm warm to criticism and I take it well, I think. The people I worked with, I think they were expecting some hot-shot actor and I was just excited to be there. I was blessed and fortunate to have some really talented people around me like Temeura Morrison and Michael Rooker, who have done a lot of things, a lot of movies. I was with them the whole time, asking how I could make things better. The action scenes, they tell me I was pretty natural, but that stuff comes easy to me. I'm used to getting beat up, man. I'm not so used to getting blown up, but it was something I could do.
On the action side, was there anything that surprised you or was maybe more similar than you thought, from the WWE to films?
Ted DiBiase: Yeah. I never want to get into a fight, a real fight, with a Muay Thai fighter. I learned that (Laughs). We did this really long, extensive fight scene inside a boiler room and it's a couple of minutes long. It was tough and we did it over and over again, different shots and different angles. The very first take, we were warming up, practicing it and rehearsing it and I told these guys, 'Look, I'm a professional wrestler, I've got fans that I've got to please. I don't want them to look at this and say, 'Oh, that was weak,' so lay into it a little bit.' They weren't really used to working with the actual actor, they're more used to working with doubles and beating the crap out of them. I wouldn't have it. I did all my own stunts, except jumping off the boat as it was blown up. I begged to do it, but it's not a good idea. The very first take we did in this fight scene, this kid he kicked me and hit me right with his toes and tore the cartilage between two of my ribs. That was the very first take and we had the entire day left to shoot this. That was the first week of the movie, so I basically had a cracked rib the entire time I shot this movie, which is a lot of falling down and getting up. It was hard to breathe, so it was just one more thing for me to think about.
I would guess that having to do something over and over again is something you're not really used to as well.
Ted DiBiase: Yeah, exactly. With RAW, working with Monday Night RAW, we do live TV so there's no second takes. What you see is what you get. With the fight scenes here, they were kind of amazed that we didn't have to do them that often. We didn't have to do them over and over and over again. We nailed it. They were pretty excited about that and it was a lot of fun, man. It's a different kind of fighting. Of course, what we do, WWE, we're a male soap opera, but it's a little more physical. Throwing a movie punch and throwing a working punch on Monday night is different. I went in a week early and trained with their stunt guys and stunt coordinators and learned how to do these things. It was an incredible experience.
So you said there was only one shot in the whole movie that isn't you?
Ted DiBiase: Yeah, just the boat. I fell off a two-story building and had the cables connected, you know. Me and this guy were on top of this deck and he runs and tackles me and we roll off. You hit the ground, but it stops you right before you hit, and there's always that risk factor. It was really cool and I had tons of fun doing it.
When we spoke at Comic-Con, you mentioned they filmed this in a beautiful resort in Thailand. What was it like hanging out there for a month and a half instead of the grind of traveling all the time?
Ted DiBiase: I worked very hard, you know, most of the day, every day, it seemed like. There were some times where I wasn't needed for a couple of hours and I had a few days off. My room was right on the pool. You could open your door, step out into the water, it was amazing. It was so relaxing and just a beautiful country. I remember flying over in a plane and just looking at an aerial shot and I told myself right there that I will be back here for vacation. It's just unbelievable. You see it in books, but when you're actually there and you see it, it's something truly amazing.
Since John Cena starred in the first one, has there been any playful trash-talking in the locker room about who's film will be better?
Ted DiBiase: Oh yeah. I tell everybody how much better The Marine 2 is going to be, that I can actually act and my muscles don't get in the way (Laughs). No, I'm just kidding. It's all playful. John has done an incredible job and he's really set the bar for us guys coming up behind him. John is a workaholic and he is the epitome of a workhorse. He's our poster child for WWE so he will go above and beyond. He'll go film every day and then on Monday's he'll go on TV. He works so hard. There's always some playful talk here and there. I usually do most of the talking and he just smiles and walks on because he knows that he doesn't have to talk.
Would that kind of thing ever be worked into a storyline on the show when the movie is coming out?
Ted DiBiase: I hope so. I think that would be entertaining. I could think of quite a few things, maybe have a couple of TV's in the back, with both of us watching our own movies, I don't know. You never know.
Are there any other film roles you've been going out for lately, or has it all been wrestling for you recently?
Ted DiBiase: I've been pretty busy with wrestling. Without WWE, I wouldn't have had this chanced. I know I'm fortunate and blessed because I know how many people give up so much to move out to L.A. and Hollywood to chase that dream. That's how it was for me with wrestling. I gave up a lot of things and moved away and trained and I made it there and it just opened up another door. I definitely would look forward to the next opportunity to do another film. I don't even have to be the lead. I would just love to do as much as I can, because, being a wrestler and an entertainer, it's definitely another avenue, such as The Rock has proved and Stone Cold, because you can't wrestle forever. Your knees give out, your back gives out. I hope I can, but you just don't ever know. It's something that I really enjoy doing.
Finally, what would you like to say to all your fans in the WWE about what they can expect from you in The Marine 2 when it comes out on DVD?
Ted DiBiase: Well, they can expect another side of Ted DiBiase (Laughs). What they see on TV, most of the time, they don't like. I think you'll see a more compassionate, vulnerable side and actually a hero. It's something that I really had fun doing because I always like challenging myself. They're going to see a lot of action, a great story and it's just a great movie. There's a little love in there too, so for the ladies out there, they will appreciate some of the love scenes.
Well, that's about all I have for you. Thanks for your time today, Ted.
Ted DiBiase: Thank you, buddy. I appreciate it.
You can see Ted DiBiase star in The Marine 2 when it hits the shelves on DVD and Blu-ray on December 29.