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gi-joe-retaliation-dwayne-johnsonThere’s no denying that within the span of a decade, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has transformed from WWE superstar to the next big action icon. The actor is now the number one choice for an action lead and, at times, took a key role in successfully breathing new life into once-faltering franchises. Now he’s taking the reigns of another popular film series with “G.I. Joe: Retaliation.” Dwayne Johnson got a chance to sit down and talk about his ongoing success in film along with makinga big ensemble movie such as this.

This is the third time that you’ve stepped into a series to give it a little help. What makes you the go-to guy for saving movie franchises?

Dwayne Johnson: One thing I have … a decent smile. The idea is if I can come in and add value, and help elevate it then I’ll consider it and do it. The franchises that I have been able to be a part of have been some already successful franchises, long running franchises, for example like “Fast & Furious”. With “G.I. Joe” it was very, very special. It had a deep-rooted cool connection with me because I played with G.I. Joes and was such a big G.I. Joe fan when I was younger. I had a massive collection of G.I. Joes and Star Wars action figures so to get the call a year and a half ago about becoming a Joe, and leading the Joes, and having the opportunity to go in and number one, pay homage and respect to the mythology, and then number two hopefully make a better movie than the first. Because sequels are tricky, and in this case the first movie came out and it made a lot of money around the world but also I felt that, and we all felt that there was room for a better movie.

Did you do anything extra to physically prepare for this role?

Dwayne Johnson: I did, yea. This was a very long prep. It was probably ten to twelve weeks of dieting and training because we just got to remember that Roadblock, and if any of you are familiar with the mythology of the comic books or the cartoon, Roadblock was a very established character who nobody looked like that guy in the line of G.I. Joe. So I thought if we had one shot at bringing him to life then I wanted to come in in pretty good shape.

Did you have a Roadblock figure and was he one of your favorites?

Dwayne Johnson: Yes, thank you. He was. It was Roadblock, Duke and I got to be honest with you, my favorite at that time was Snake Eyes. So between Snake Eyes and Boba Fett for me, I was in heaven. With a little Han Solo thrown in, and some Duke as well. So again, I’ll go back to getting a phone call, hey, we want you to be part of this. What do you think? I loved it. So coming on the set, and not only that but there was a cool moment where I had a scene with Snake Eyes and it was just that. It was very cool, very surreal, and the inner turbo nerd in me who has grown into a big turbo nerd came out on set.

What was it like working with the rest of the group?

Dwayne Johnson: Well, they were great. Anytime I think you have a cast where there are a lot of characters that you are portraying, and you bring in a lot of actors, and many of the actors are stars in their own right, that can be tricky too. Because with that comes whatever ego or baggage and what happens a lot of times is that they don’t gel. And I’ve been in movies before where there has been a big ensemble. In the case of G.I. Joe, the camaraderie between everyone was really awesome. I think what might have supported that and fostered that is I think everyone coming on board from the new guys on the block like myself, and Bruce (Willis), when there is already an established brand that is beloved I think that everyone goes into the project excited and wanting to have fun.

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What was it like for you to work with fellow action superstar Bruce Willis?

Dwayne Johnson: Bruce is a guy who I’ve admired over the years and who I’ve looked up to when I was younger, you know watching him in “Die Hard,” watching him in “Moonlighting” by the way I was such a big fan where he had such great charm with Cybil (Shepard) and those episodes were phenomenal. Then of course seeing him in “Die Hard” and I remember when I saw his turn in “The Sixth Sense” I thought he was phenomenal. He’s a great actor and he brings great weight and gravitas to certain roles. I think Bruce Willis in this particular role the reason why we all call ourselves Joes, was because of General Joe Colton, he seamlessly fit into this role. So also too I want to add that when I first started in Hollywood years ago, he was one of the few guys who was so supportive and publicly so supportive of my transition. Then when I met him and we hung out and had dinner, he was so insightful and supportive and in our private moments just said, hey, this is going to be great for you, you can do it, you got to work hard, which you do, and it will be yours to have, basically but you have to go out there and work it but its going to take a long time. If you want to have a career, it’s going to take a very long time. I appreciated that insight so much because you don’t get it, you don’t get that as your coming up in Hollywood because everyone is vying for a position and everyone is very competitive, so for him to do that I will never forget it. And then to have him in the movie with me, it’s awesome.

There is a joke online that Channing Tatum looks like John Cena, did you ever make fun of Channing for that on set and can you talk about how you are preparing for your match against Cena in two weeks at Wrestlemania 29?

Dwayne Johnson: I wouldn’t insult Channing’s mom by saying her favorite son looks like John Cena. I never gave him any crap about that. I really didn’t even notice that actually. But I really enjoyed working with Channing. He’s a great guy, as you guys known. I’m sure you’ve all sat with him. I’m happy for him. He is the sexiest man alive … till next year. But I love the guy and I’m very happy for him. And I was very happy with our chemistry on screen, it really popped out and I enjoyed that. John Cena, I’m excited about that but I’m really excited for WrestleMania.

For those of you guys that don’t know, I have WrestleMania coming up its going to be in two weeks at MetLife Stadium. I’m going in as WWE Champion so for me it is a thrill. Not only that, but also more importantly than a thrill it is an honor. This goes back to three years ago when Vince McMahon and I started talking about coming back and the best strategic plan for how I could come back and what was the overall goal. The overall goal is for me to give back to a business that provided me an awesome platform to entertain. But then also, in me giving back, bring more eyes to the WWE and the superstars that work so hard. Showcase them too as well. So we lined up three WrestleMania’s in a row and this will be the third so I’m very excited about it. And the prep has been tough and challenging because its been setting up rings in multiple cites, wherever I am at, down in Florida, in New York, and on the west coast. Bringing in guys, having my physical training camps with those guys, just to make sure I’m staying in ring shape, and then balancing out shooting and promoting movies. But I’m so excited about this show for a lot of reasons. There have been twenty-eight other WrestleManias over the years, this is very special because I know what it means to the fans, and I know what it means to the McMahon family to be in New York. It’s such a cool thing. My grandfather wrestled for Vince McMahon’s dad so there is a nice lineage there and I really honored to go in and in my way have this match and give back to not only the fans, the company, but also give back to the WWE’s number one hero in John Cena. Even though he gets booed, he is still the man so I’m happy to get in the ring with him.

Are you open to the idea of appearing in “The Expendables 3”?

Dwayne Johnson: I am open to it, but they aren’t ready for me!

“G.I. Joe: Retaliation” is out in theaters everywhere on March 28th.