The wrestler turned actor lays the smack down on his new movie
It was the initial first-person video game - Doom, and it's now a new movie starring Karl Urban and The Rock (His real name is Dwayne Johnson).
In 2026, a government medical operation turns bad when some aliens they've created start attacking the doctors. It's then up to The Rock and his crew to kill the aliens.
The Rock sat down with Movieweb to talk about the film and the all the crazy things that went on during the shoot. And don't think Doom is the only thing The Rock is working on; he talks about his upcoming projects as well:
Why did you get involved in this movie?
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson: Read the script, really, really loved the script. The first Doom I played almost 15 years ago. Big fan of the game, and when I was approached with it - Universal had sent me the script - I thought ‘Okay, this is pretty ambitious to try and make this into a movie.' And frankly movies from the past that have been adapted from video games have been OK. They made a ton of money box office-wise. But you walk away – ‘It was alright.' So I thought it was very ambitious. I read the script and really, really enjoyed it. And then I remember calling Universal and saying ‘We really got a shot: Number one, if we stay true to the game and remained unapologetic in our approach and when it's time to blow demons away, blow them away.' It was kind of sick really: if it's time to die, die the way you should be dying in Doom, no PG-13 style. But not only that, but it was written in there the first-person shooter was written in there. That sequence I thought ‘Wow that's really ambitious. Hopefully we can capture that.' They did a great job of capturing that. Not only that, but for me personally, selfishly, I get to carry the BFG, like ‘Oh my G-d, oh cool." And I get to be a real, really badass guy.
What was the dynamic between you and Karl on set?
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson: It was alright, it was an intense shoot to be very honest with you. We were away, I was away from home. We're in Prague for four months on a sound stage, never saw the sun. Woke up at four, five o'clock in the morning, no sun; get back at eight o' clock, come out of the sound stage, no sun. So I never saw the sun. Every day, work for me was - you talk about going from playing gay in Be Cool singing country love songs to Doom where every day we're being chased, we're chasing, there's death, there's my men getting their heads ripped off, death and dying and all that, so it was an intense shoot. The corridors - they did a great job, set design-wise - it was dark, it was scary, it was everything that Doom should be. We lived it every day so it was intense.
What do you do to stay sane then?
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson: That's a good question. I'll tell you exactly what I did. I called my agent. I said ‘First of all, I'm miserable,' cause you're away from home, family's not there. And I found great places to eat, I'm kind of like a cow. If I'm watered and I'm fed then I can work. You can work me all day, I'm good to go. I called my agent, I said ‘Please, just give me a satellite. That's all I need so I can watch anything other than CNN International.' That was the only thing on; it was driving me crazy. For those of you that haven't seen CNN International - a little one-sided, but I was ready for my satellite. They got me that, and that was it. So it was a tough shoot, intense, we worked six day weeks a lot, French hours where there's no lunch break. The guys just keep walking around with food, and you just pick at it. That was it, I was able to find a good gym. I got up every morning, trained, ate well and that was it.
What was your most challenging scene?
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson: I think just overall the most challenging aspect of the movie - No. 1: I think from a character perspective, as an actor you want to bring the real and pull and draw from your own life. But then I think what happens for me, in a sci-fi horror, in this movie, you're being chased by a seven-foot demon. Other than my first girlfriend, I can't think of anybody that reminds me of that. You know what I mean? How to prepare for that, for me the most challenging thing was to try and find some layers to Sarge and try to make him interesting and try and add a little bit of levity to a story that's like heavy and death and death. Little stuff like ‘Holy sh*t' with the gun or anyway that I could find a laugh that fit I tried to do that. The most challenging thing overall was just every day, going to work, especially during the holidays. I know the holidays are back home and Christmas spirit. And I'd come to work, and everybody on the floor - they weren't dummies, they were real amputees. A hundred of them everywhere, between makeup and prosthetics, it looked like their arms were yanked off, bodies yanked off. These were real people, every day just lying there, kind of looking up at you, you have to watch where you step. What happens is I guess it's easier because takes happen like that - it's not like ‘Okay, let's go,' and they just go to craft services or something like that. They had to stay there so it was weighing on you, it weighed on me; I would call home and my wife would be like ‘What's the matter with you? You're an asshole.' ‘Sorry, it's my day. It's not a normal day at work.' But don't feel bad, we're making a movie, that's a good thing. We're making movies, and that's an awesome thing.
How much of the fight scene at the end is your stuff or did you work with a choreographer for it?
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson: We had a guy named Dion Lam, really, really good. He coordinated the Matrix movies, Spider-Man 2, he's really good. He comes from that Hong Kong school, which is awesome. I enjoy working - I love the process: pre-production, principal photography, post, I love everything. So to get involved with him and work with a guy like that who I know - he was the understudy to a legend in Hong Kong. So he was the man and I had a chance to work with Dion Lam, had a chance to work with Andy Chang in The Rundown and Scorpion King, so I was really lucky. What's great about those guys is like I'd tell Dion ‘Ok, this is what I can do, there is the move I'd like to incorporate, and how can we do this but how can we make it different? How can we make it special?' And he's great.
How heavy is the BFG?
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson: The real one was heavy, which is good because you can tell when I pick it up, the first time I fire it, kind of like take a step and that one was really, really heavy that the prop masters made. The one I had to run with wasn't as heavy, because obviously you got to run. But that was a heavy sucker. And it had a kick to it too. You'd press it and it would kick back. Both of them are sitting in my house now. How much fun is fun?
How much stunt work did you do?
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson: I love that; I come from that world so I pretty much did everything. I have a great stunt double who's actually my cousin [Tanoai Reed]. And when it comes to the dangerous stuff, he was thrown into the wall, but I think it's important. The audiences today are very savvy, we all understand that money doesn't grow on trees. When I watch a movie, I want to see my guy, that's who I want to see. So, if I can do it, I'm going to do it. It's funny, I just adopted this saying, and I told Andrzej this too. I said ‘Let me tell you something: If I can't do it, it simply can't be done.' Which is bullsh*t, because I'm like ‘Where's my stunt double again? Go do it."
Do you play other games now?
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson: X Box, PS2; I had the X Box set up in my trailer on the last movie I was doing. I like Halo; I'm big into Madden though, I love Madden. Played Halo for a little while, tried to get online, tried that, pretty cool. I'm excited to see what they're going to do with Halo, actually; Peter Jackson, I think, is producing.
Any possibility you'd go in for that?
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson: I don't think so; right now I'm concentrating on Spy Hunter. I just did the motion capture for Spy Hunter, the video game, Spy Hunter 3, which is pretty cool because it allows you to get out of the car now. Yeah, it's really cool. It will be with Universal. This is one of those projects where we've had eight writers on it, on Spy Hunter, great writers too. The thing is the dollar's being spent, but it's one of those things where you really don't want to rush it. You just don't want to make just any type of movie. It's such a special movie conceptually. It's so cool with the car. And you're the hunter of spies. Stuart Beattie we all believe will come through. He wrote Pirates of the Caribbean and Collateral, so we're waiting, fingers crossed. It should be in about a week.
What kind of stunts do they have your cousin doing?
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson: I can tell you right now, it's where I get thrown into the wall, he did that. And that's really about it honestly. It's funny, because this movie was cake for him because I basically did everything, which is fine with me. That's cool. But other than that, yeah, just him getting thrown into the wall. The only time he did work, you'll see when the coverage is on Karl, and he'll do some blocking and some punching and stuff. But it's only if I needed a break, nothing big. Certainly nothing like he's done in the past. He's really done some incredible stunts, he's an award-winning stunt man and he makes me look great.
Which fight scenes are more fun: guns or hand-to-hand?
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson: Both, but I'd have to say the gun stuff. That stuff was great, I was able to shoot some guns off in Rundown and Walking Tall, but the elements of this big gun. Even if I wasn't shooting off the BFG, but just shooting off the gun that I did have, shooting at monsters is cool. There's corridors, there's an atmosphere of tension, don't really know what's around the corner - that stuff is really cool.
How do you choose your projects?
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson: Actually before I did Doom and after Doom, I shot a film called Gridiron Gang. Every once in a while there's that movie that you don't know about that's not the $150 million War of the Worlds. It's one of those special movies that moves people and inspires. I did that and then Southland, in fact, we just wrapped Southland. So for me, it's just I want to do a wide array of roles that make sense that I feel that I can come in and do well with and work with good directors like Phil Joanou and Richard Kelly who just did Southland Tales with me, where I play paranoid schizophrenic. I got Sarah Michelle Gellar as my girlfriend and Mandy Moore as my wife, a lot going on. I hear voices and all that stuff. I want to do that. When I first broke into the business about five years ago - even with The Mummy Returns, small role, no English dialogue – ‘Haku Machente!' - that was it - one line, that was it. They marketed that one, it was like ‘Wow, he's in the whole movie.' I just want to be good at what I do. I realized then, when I first broke in with The Mummy Returns and being on the set in Morocco watching everybody act, I really wanted to be good then. Acting is not easy, I had then a newfound respect for acting. I'm like, ok, if you want to be good, you really have to concentrate, line yourself up with good people, good actors, good coaches, good technique, just all that kind of stuff is important.
Rosamund kept things light on set by picking the demon she'd ‘shag;' did you have a favorite?
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson: That I would shag? That's funny, because I think Rosamund and I had different experiences on the set. I don't remember laughing that much on the set. Yeah, favorite creature - it would have to be the Baron. What's great is Stan Winston, Monster Makers, they'd make these monsters truly incredible. You have an appreciation, you watch Alien, wow, that's awesome. You watch Predator, wow, that's a cool monster. But when you're on a set and you see this monster come to life. The guy, real big guy too, 6'6", 6'7", he gets in this outfit, and he becomes like eight feet walking, breathing, and the texture, his body's moving: it's insanely incredible. And you're blown away, I'm blown away. That's when you're like ‘Damn, this is really, really cool, this is a cool business to be in.' That's my favorite, and yelling at Rosamund. I yelled at her the whole movie; those scenes where I was like ‘Where'd that guy ...?" I was like that the whole movie with her.
Was acting always a goal for you?
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson: It's interesting, I did, but I didn't know how I was going to get there. I had no ties, it wasn't anything like that. I played football for 10 years, and then I wrestled for another 6 1/2, 7 years. And fortunately in wrestling it was the medium of television, so I thought ‘Ok, at least I'm in TV.' And originally I wanted to be in a sitcom, comedy, that was my goal. Of course, the big screen is always a goal, it was for me. But I have no connections, I didn't grow up across the street from Paramount, no one was an executive in my family, it wasn't like that at all. So I didn't know how that would happen. When The Mummy Returns came along, and I met with Stephen Sommers, I was just so excited. I was like ‘I'd love to play this.' He was like ‘Yeah, I created this role, Scorpion King.' ‘Oh, I'd love to.' I was like ‘Any dialogue I got to study?' He was like ‘No, here's your one line you're going to have to study.' I was like ‘Ok, great, cool, I'll take it!' And since that happened, then Scorpion King, here we are, I was really happy.
Are you still doing Species?
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson: You know what's probably going to happen with that is we're probably going turn that into a video game. Conceptually, it's a cool idea for a video game, and I love video games. That's one of those things that the script is written and written and written, and if it doesn't come in right, nobody feels great about it. Kevin Misher, who did Interpreter and Scorpion King and Rundown, and it would be with Universal. They come from a place that I appreciate. ‘We're not going to make a movie just to make it, it's gotta be right.' So, we've talked about it, and we talked to gaming companies who will probably turn it into a video game.
So you're not happy with the script?
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson: The concept is great - we're in a zoo, and if we all got transported, and got put into a zoo in space, I represent the human race. The idea is great, and there's all these other species of whatever's out there. Anything that your mind can imagine, my mind is not that imaginative, but for those who are, it's really, really cool - sci-fi genre. So, unless somebody comes up and just nails it, the script, I'm being candid.
I saw you on Monday Night Football a couple weeks ago; are you pulling for anyone this year?
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson: Miami Dolphins for me; I live in Miami. All of those guys are my neighbors, I grew up basically, I went to school in Miami. But that game was awesome - Mile High Stadium, a thousand people, awesome!
Is there any role not offered yet that you'd like to play, like a romantic comedy?
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson: I would love that! I've gotten a couple of romantic comedy scripts, but they've just not been that good. That would be great. There's a great project with Disney now that's really cool that you'll hear about soon I'm sure. There's another comedy, there's a lot of comedy, interestingly enough; I'm getting more comedies than anything.
If you take a romantic comedy, are you afraid your wife will beat you up again?
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson: That's funny; that was after the first one. But now, again, from - you can't really top having Mandy Moore as a wife and Sarah Michelle Gellar as your girlfriend; Mandy Moore is a senator's daughter, and Sarah Michelle Gellar is a porn star. So you can imagine my character's life was like. So, yeah, there'll be a homicide after my wife sees it.
Who's your favorite actor?
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson: I'd say hands down, Clint Eastwood. Just love what he's done, always been a big fan. That's a tough question. So for Clint, for what he's done in film, that bravado that he had and he still had a sense of humor about himself to directing now; I'd love to work with him. Directors: Tarantino, all those guys. Actor wise, Clint, you know, the great ones, Clint and Mel Gibson I really love - so many good actors out there.
Are you signed on to do a Doom sequel?
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson: We talked about that. It's possible, because I'm superhuman, so even though the grenade explodes, you never know what might happen. That would be cool. It would almost be like Terminator. I came back, but I was infected, kind of like that. We'll see what happens, I'd love to though. That would be cool, especially an infected Sarge, cool! Yeah, talk like that, that would be great, talk like Clint Eastwood.
You had the Semper Fi tattoo, but you didn't show your own.
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson: We covered my tattoo and put that Semper Fi on. I'll tell you, the movie making is just fun, talk about how movies aren't changing the world in any way. But there's a sense of pride when you put a Semper Fi tattoo on you, and especially once I realized what it meant, the meaning behind it - it's the heart and soul behind the Marine Corp: We are forever faithful. That gets you excited, for me, too. I have a lot of love and respect for our military, that was great. That whole process was like six hours. Cover mine, put that one on, take it off, especially at the end when I turn into - all the prosthetics and all that, it's insane, nine hours.
Was there one day that was the most distressing?
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson: I would have to say a stressful day was when Sarge starts to think - I come back, ‘Where's Carmack?' ‘Oh, he disappeared.' ‘What do you mean he disappered? How does he disappear? I leave Samantha Grimm in charge and he disappears? And then I leave one of my men in charge, and he just disappears? I can't fathom how he can just disappear. Whose blood is on that window? What's going on?' So when I had to start questioning Rosamund, we went through a lot of variations of how I was going to question her, with a lot of profanity and a lot of - and she's a gorgeous little girl - gorgeous little woman. And I'm physically bigger than her, there were a couple of days of that where it was. It's been edited down, because you think ‘What are you seeing? One guy rips his ear off and you can't find him? You're lying to me.' Basically, I tell the director ‘Of course, she's lying to me,' and it was a lot of flim-flam, that kind of stuff, what I was going to do with my gun and blow her britches off because it escalates because there's actually two times. First you don't know where Carmack is, and then again, it's like ‘What do you mean Goat killed himself? He was already dead. What are you telling me?' Now, it starts to escalate. So that got a little - and she's a trouper.
Sarge is the only one who doesn't throw up easily. What causes you nausea?
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson: Yeah, I'll be honest with you, the first time I played Doom I got nauseous. And then I read somewhere that that's what happens; you just get nauseous with the chaos of the first person shooter and all that. I for some reason have been good, but then the one time I went to Universal Studios, and everybody's ‘Get on the Spider-Man ride. Get on the Spider-Man ride.' Okay. I get on the Spider-Man ride. I was that close from - you know how your mouth starts to salivate when you're getting there. Especially with me, I was like ‘Oh, this is it.' You walked into this ride, it was the worst. So after that, no, no more rides for me. No, especially like that, because that's the hydraulics and everything going on.
Are you talking about The Mummy ride?
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson: No, I'll do that ride because I heard I'm in it; I'll wait for me. No, the Spider-Man ride, no more rides.
There's a pretty good 4 minutes of the movie where they actually shoot it in the first-person look. Doom is rated 'R' for strong language and extreme gore and violence. It opens in theaters October 21st.
Dont't forget to also check out: Doom