The rock leads a Rapid Response Tactical squad of Marines who must investigate an incident at a research station on Mars in the sci-fi film, “Doom,” based on a popular video game. Although he’s no stranger to high octane action, the 33-year-old former pro wrestler admits the film – in theaters this weekend – was quite a stretch.
Could you tell us how this “Doom” journey started?
ROCK: The first “Doom” that I played was almost fifteen years ago. I’m a big fan of the game, and when I was approached with it, when Universal had sent me the script, I thought, ‘Okay, it’s pretty ambitious to try and make this into a movie.’ Frankly, it’s because the movies in the past that have been adapted from videogames have been okay. They’ve made a ton of money box office wise, but you walk away from them going, ‘Okay. That was kind of alright.’ So I thought that it was really ambitious. I’d read the script and really enjoyed it, and then I remember calling Universal and saying, ‘We really have a shot at this if, number one, we stay true to the game and remain unapologetic in our approach. And, when it’s time to blow demons away we blow them away. When it’s time to die, you die the way that you should be dying in “Doom.” Not PG-13 style.’ And not only all of that, but for me personally, selfishly, I get the chance to carry the BFG which is like, ‘I’m that guy? Oh, cool.’ I get to just be a real, real bad ass guy.
How was it working with co-star Karl Urban?
ROCK: It was all right. It was all right. It was an intense shoot to be very honest with you. I was away from home. We were in Prague for four months on a soundstage and never saw the sun. We’d wake up at four and five o’clock in the morning and there was no sun. We’d get back home at eight o’clock and there was no sun. You’d come out of the soundstage and there’d be no sun. So you never saw the sun. I mean, everyday was like that. Everyday there we were being chased or doing the chasing. There’s my men getting their heads ripped off, and just death and dying all day. So it was an intense shoot. And the corridor, they did a great job set wise in that it was dark and eerie. It was everything that ‘Doom’ should be, and we lived it everyday. So it was intense.
How do you stay sane in situations like these?
ROCK: I’ll tell you exactly what I did. I called my agent and I said, ‘First of all I’m miserable.’ You’re away from home and your family isn’t there. I did find great places to eat and I’m kind of like a cow in that if I’m watered and fed I can work. You can work me all day and I’m good to go. But I called my agent and I said, ‘Please, just give me a satellite. That’s all I need so that I can just watch anything other than CNN international.’ That was the only thing on, so they got me my satellite. It was a tough shoot though, and intense. We worked six-day weeks a lot and French hours where there is no lunch break. The guys just keep walking around with food and you sort of pick at it and that was it. I was able to find a good gym. I got up every morning and trained and ate well and that was it.
What was one of the most difficult things on the film for you to do?
ROCK: The most difficult thing on my end was, as far as the training goes, was to try and quell my desire to pick the brain of the former SAS Commander we had. I have a lot of love and a lot of respect for our military and so I constantly went, ‘Just between you and I, in the Afghan mountains?’ [what went down] and he was great. I appreciated that. The training paid off too. It was really, really important because it made sure that whether we liked each other or we didn’t, it had nothing to do with the job we had to complete. So that was an interesting dynamic.
So what was the most challenging scene for you?
ROCK: I think that the number one thing from a character perspective is that you want to bring the real and draw from your own life. But then I think that what happened for me in this sci-fi horror movie, where you’re being chased by seven foot demons, I had to rely on my imagination. Other than my first girlfriend, I can’t think of anyone who reminds me of something like that. She loves that by the way. So I had to find some layers for Sarge and try and make him interesting. Add a little bit of levity to a story that’s all about and so heavy with death. So it was like the, ‘Holy sh*t.’ That thing that I did with the gun or any way that I could try and find a laugh that might fit in there.
So do you play videogames now?
ROCK: Oh yeah, I have an Xbox and PS2. I had the Xbox in my trailer during the movie.
Do you like ‘Halo’?
ROCK: Yeah. I like ‘Halo.’ You know what, I’m even big into Madden though. I love Madden. I played ‘Halo’ for a little while and tried to get online too. I tried that with my cousin, which was pretty cool. I’m excited to see what they’re going to do with ‘Halo’ actually. They’ve got some good producers.
Any possibility of you going after that?
ROCK: No, I don’t think so. I mean, right now I’m concentrating on ‘Spy Hunter.’ I just did the motion capture for ‘Spy Hunter III,’ the videogame, which was cool because that allows you to get out of the car now. It’s really cool. We’re waiting, but that’s going to be with Universal and this is one of those projects where we’ve had eight writers, and great writers, too. Millions of dollars are being spent, but it’s one of those things where when you don’t want to rush it. You just don’t want to make any type of movie. It’s such a special movie conceptually and it’s so cool. You’re the hunter of spies. We all believe that Stuart Beattie will come through. He wrote ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ and ‘Collateral’ and so we’re waiting. Fingers are crossed, but it should be in, in about a week.
What kind of stuff did your cousin the stunt double do on this one?
ROCK: I have to 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 in that I basically did everything. The only time that he did work you’ll see is when the coverage was kind of on Karl and he would do some blocking and some punching stuff. But that was only when I needed a break and certainly nothing like he’s done in the past. He’s really done some incredible stunts.
He’s an award winning stuntman.
You did this, “Be Cool” and you’re doing “Southland Tales.” Do you have a game plan for choosing scripts?
ROCK: Yeah. Actually, before I did ‘Doom’ and then after ‘Doom’ we filmed a movie called ‘Gridiron Gang’ which is that movie where every once in a while you’re not sure about. It’s not the $150 million ‘War of the Worlds,’ but it’s one of those special movies that moves people and inspires them. So I did that, and then I did ‘Southland,’ and as a matter of fact we just wrapped on ‘Southland.’ So for me I just want to do a wide array of roles that make sense that I feel I can come in and do well with on. I play a paranoid Schizophrenic on ‘Southland and Michelle Gellar is my girlfriend. Mandy Moore is my wife. There’s a lot going on.
There’s definitely a lot going on with The Rock and we’ll keep your posted, including “The Mummy” ride.