Wrestling made John Cena a better actor

The ‘Blockers’ star puts it down to the special bond between the WWE and its audience
John Cena and Leslie Mann in Blockers
[Image: Universal]

It’s no surprise that John Cena’s acting career is currently on an upward trajectory.

 

 

 

First of all, the monstrous success of Dwayne Johnson’s cinematic efforts helped pave the way for wrestlers, and we all know how Hollywood likes to copy a winning formula.

 

 

 

Cena is a different beast to Johnson, though. Because off the back of his hilarious scene-stealing turn in “Trainwreck,” he has remained in the comedy genre with “Blockers,” where he once again more than holds his own. 

 

Like Johnson, Cena has stuck to his strengths, mostly because of the huge respect that he has for the audience. Cena recently admitted to me over the phone that respect is something that he carried over from his ongoing wrestling career, while he also took the time to touch upon his turn in “Blockers,” too,

 

What originally attracted you to “Blockers” then?

Well, the story was damn good. It was subject matter that stands the test of time. It is about young women becoming adults, and their parents’ inability to understand that.

 

Do you get nervous about doing comedy?

I am excited by it. When you walk into the film and know that there are intensely, funny people in the comedy you feel relaxed. If I was the only one in the comedy then we have got some trouble.

 

Did you try and get to know the people on set beforehand? I am particularly thinking about Geraldine who plays your daughter. 

Each of us had some time to bond. It was limited. But all for the best. The movie is about parents becoming friends because their kids are friends. And the current situation in the movie is that their friendship has almost dissipated. And that played in our favor in a way. I spoke to Geraldine in depth about the relationship between Kayla and Mitchell, and we came to an understanding that it was paramount for her to be friends with her friends and for her to spend any extra time with her friends. Because if you look at how it breaks down, Mitchell’s perspective of Kayla is very different to how she actually is. And even though he is trying his best as a dad, he is very distant in what’s going on with his actual daughter. 

 

After "Trainwreck" and now this it feels as though female comedic voices get the best out of you.

I wouldn’t restrict it to gender. I am just fair and have an open mindedness when I walk in. Sometimes I don’t get all the jokes. It doesn’t matter if it is a woman or a man. But being humble enough to ask for it to be explained, and knowing I am just a small piece, allows me to play it better. Because comedy doesn’t have a gender.

 

What have you brought from your time in WWE to being an actor?

I think the elements of WWE that are most valuable to this is the ability to tell stories. And knowing your piece in the whole story. WWE is a very humbling experience. Because the world doesn’t revolve around you. The world revolves around the entity and the audience. And you are merely a small piece in the entire entity. A lot of times you might be a very showcased piece, or you can be a minimal piece. But even if you are a minimal piece and you do something memorable it can make memories that last a life time. So for this, I knew I was just a piece in this movie, and I wanted to just do the best that I could.

 

When it comes to WWE were you originally attracted to the entertainment or physical side?

Much more the entertainment. Then when you learn your craft you want to be as physically capable as you can be. Trust me I feel so at home with the WWE because it is a place where you can entertain and show physical prowess at the same time, and be enthusiastic, too. It is definitely the entertainment side that drew me, and has kept me so passionate over the years.

 

I feel like wresters have such a special relationship with their movie audience, one that is more respectful than other actors. 

I feel that the benefit of live performance, and consistent live performances, being in front of the audience every night, means you are not sequestered. I usually watch my movies alone or in a screening with my peers. Imagine performing the movie in front of an arena? You will know what works and what doesn’t. Also, imagine turning up for a movie where they say, ‘OK, you will be paid nothing. And you will wager yourself on the success of the movie.’ At that point you would become a little bit more invested in the movie’s success. And that’s kind of how we operate it. And I wouldn’t want it any other way. Because you are essentially rewarded on what you learn. You give yourself to the craft. It’s a weird, family type grass roots cultural relationship between WWE performer and WWE fan. I think it is like nothing else ever. It has prepared me for whole lot, not just in entertainment, but in being a grown man, I am very thankful for that. I never forget that without them I do not exist. Without the ticket buyer, the moviegoer, I am not talking to you about "Blockers." I am doing God knows what.

“Blockers” is released on April 6.

 
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