'Hobbs was the inspiration for the connection my character makes with the gorilla in Rampage'
If there was someone who can boast of being a versatile actor in recent times, it has to be Dwayne Johnson. He’s played everything from a muscle-packed CIA agent with terrific comic timing in Central Intelligence and a hardcore bounty hunter in The Rundown, to voicing a demigod in Moana. This summer, Dwayne is all set to scorch it up a notch with Rampage, in which he plays Davis Okoye, a primatologist and head of an anti-poaching unit based out of Rwanda. Excerpts from a chat with the actor.
The tagline of the film reads, ‘Big meets bigger’...
Rampage is a big movie – big in scale, big in action and big in heart. It’s epic in every way. We have not just a gigantic, amazing albino gorilla, we have a super-sized mutated grey wolf and a massive crocodile.We destroy a major city. So what fans can count on is big, intense action that really pushes the envelope and creates a non-stop ride of fun and chaos.
We heard that your dog, Hobbs, was an inspiration for the emotional connection Davis makes with George (the gorilla)...
One of the anchors in the movie, amid all the action and destruction, is the bond between Davis and George. I based a lot of that on the relationship I have with my little Frenchie bulldog, Hobbs, aka Bruce Wee. I’ve been an animal lover since childhood, and I have had pets since I can remember, but my interplay with Hobbs is special. It’s very rough and tumble and we have a great time together — like Davis has with George. It’s important to me to balance the film’s action with heart.
What was it like to film intense action scenes — like the one where you were inside a C-17 transport plane and machines creating 100mph winds?
In the sequence, the C-17 is going down. To simulate that, the C-17 was put on a gimbal, which had to simulate a plane on fire and going down. Most of the time, I was in a harness and attached to wires – and was hanging upside down. Those scenes required a lot of movements from many different directions. So, the days were very long, but, when you’re making a movie like this, you better strap in and pack your lunch, because it’s going to be an all-day long ass kicking.
Tell us about how your relationship with Brad Peyton (the director) has evolved over the years?
Brad’s all about the work and making sure it’s as good as it can be. We don’t leave until we get the shot he needs. He always figured out a way to make a scene or moment different from anything we’ve done before. He preps like a champion athletic coach. Everything is painstakingly detailed. The devil, they say, lies in the details, and so does success.