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Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson Talks G.I. JOE: RETALIATION, Adlibbing, and More

G.I. Joe Retaliation serves as a sequel and a reboot to the G.I. Joe franchise. While it was originally written with Channing Tatum in mind, when the found out he couldn’t film the whole film that wasn’t a death knell. Instead. they know the film franchise could go on carried on the meaty shoulders of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. He’s charismatic, committed, and kicking ass in the new G.I. Joe film. Check out what he had to say about adlibbing with Channing and how it feels to become an action figure.

Read the full discussion with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson below:

GI Joe has a lot of times wrestling with Sergeant Slaughter being the first actual actor like character that wasn’t originally a Joe being brought in.  Did you get to talk to him and what did that mean to you about carrying on that legacy?

It’s an honored legacy.  It’s an honored tradition.  It goes two fold with me.  Did I speak to Sergeant, yes.  He’s a great guy, Bob.  It’s two fold.  When I was 11, 12 years old that’s all I played with was GI Joes and my Star Wars.  I had a massive collection of both and at that time the WWE which was known as WWF didn’t have dolls come out yet.  They were about a year later, they had their first dolls were created.  I was a massive fan then.  GI Joes, Star Wars, and of course WWF because my dad was wrestling at that time in the WWF.  Then I was a massive fan of Sergeant Slaughter and about Sergeant Slaughter; Sergeant Slaughter if you guys don’t know his character, great guy, drill sergeant and I remember meeting him backstage and my biggest thing with him was I always just wanted to see his riding crop.

He has a crop that he used to, like big guys lift in the world of wrestling.  He was always so nice and so gracious. When he was GI Joe, that then took it to a whole nother level.  Then you tap into my turbo nerd when that happens.  I love the fact that he was the first GI Joe.  I love the fact that still to this day he has these awesome 8 x 10s of him as GI Joe, one of which he signed to me about three weeks ago.  Very cool.

You’ve done this now a couple times where you stepped into a previously sustained franchise and in a sense you’re a bit of a franchise yourself as the movie started to bring certain expectations, I think the action roles in particular.  How do you merge those two things?  How do you step in and find your fit into what already exists and also how do they adjust to you and what you bring to the table?

We meet right in the middle.  That’s a great question and I think with something like this with GI Joe, I got the phone call about a year and a half ago.  Here’s what we’d like to do.  We’d like to essentially reboot in a way.  We’re still making a sequel but sequels can be tricky, but we would like to reboot, reignite, relaunch the franchise.  The franchise first movie made a lot of money but there was room for improvement and there was a better movie to be made.  When I get on the phone with them it’s a matter of , by that time they had already done their work in terms of understanding what I was going to bring to the table, to the franchise, and I get on the phone with them and I think can I help elevate this; can I help elevate the franchise and can I bring something special and unique to it, and can we create a character that people are going to like that we were able to do for example, with Fast and Furious.  It started with that.

I think it’s a meeting in the middle.  It also, by the way, it is a lot of fun I got to tell you.  Whether you do films that are big franchises or not but the franchise ones are fun because there’s a great challenge in them for me because you’re dealing with an already successful property and a successful brand.  Then the challenges, how do you elevate something that’s very successful already and how do we create something different; how do we create a character that people are going to like and latch onto, but not only that, then put this character in the middle of all these other characters that have already been successful.  It’s a fun challenge.

G.I. Joe

What’s with the banter that you had with Channing Tatum? When I watched the scene I felt like these guys are just doing this.  They’re not just reading lines.

All the dialog between Channing and I, it was all adlibbed.  In that scene, it’s like Call of Duty, just completely adlibbed and I wasn’t quite too sure how I was going to play anyway and how good I was going to be at it and him too.  Clearly he sucked at it and I was trying not to suck so bad but yet trying to give him shit at the same time.  It was a lot of fun.  That chemistry between Channing and I, not only did it jump off on screen but when he did that and he did it to be nice and genuine and authentic and real.  He wound up like out of this whole thing.  We’re like brothers now.  You can imagine what it was like onset and again, we needed that to go where we were going in the movie.  It had to feel real and the bond had to feel real.

You had action figures before but being a GI Joe, what was that like when you got the prototype and saw that it was happening?

I played with the Road Blocks and the Snake Eyes, Cobra dudes when I was a kid so to get these models in from Hasbro was a lot of fun and very surreal.  All actors and everyone involved in movies make movies for different reasons and their inspired by different things.  It’s a cool connection that I had because of my love for GI Joes when I was a kid so to get these action figures; I’ve had action figures in the past whether they were the Rock or the Scorpion King or some other characters that I’ve played and they’ve all been cool and great, that’s cool.  To get my own GI Joe is extra cool because if you guys don’t know the very first action figure ever made was a GI Joe action figure ever after the war.  That’s a big deal and what it represented.  For me to get the images first from Hasbro and the scales of them.  Then the fun part is my quads got to be a little bit bigger so you got to make my arms a little bit bigger.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation is in theaters now.

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The Author

Kristal Bailey

Kristal Bailey

With a soft spot for movies that fall into the “So Bad They’re Good” category, Kristal Bailey regularly watches B-movies, 80s comedies, and sci-fi from the 50s and 60s. She also refuses to grow up if that means she has to hide her love for Disney and Pixar films.

In her free time, she enjoys reading graphic novels or books that are soon to be turned into movies, watching hours and hours of television, and spending way too much time on Twitter.