*One nut Hollywood has seemingly been unable to crack through the years is making a great film video game. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson feels his latest film, “Rampage“, may finally have shattered that barrier.
“We’re…aware of… the ‘video game’ curse that has been rampant throughout Hollywood over the years. I made (the 2005 film) ‘Doom”, so I know, ” said Johnson, while laughing at a the L.A. press conference last week.
“I was part of the curse. I helped the curse.”
He feels overcoming it is very simple.
“I think the key was just a matter of being aware of the movie that we were making and not trying to be anything else than what we were and what we are..and what we are…is this big, crazy idea,” said Johnson. “The conceit of it is crazy and absurd and it defines…a needle through a thread and..what’s happened for us, in making the movie, the goal was to have fun and embrace the absurdity of it and bring in the best filmmakers we could.”
“We had people at Weather Digital who were really ambitious and who really wanted to raise the bar with these monsters,” he continued. “The best part is they were able to so that because they weren’t beholden to a lot of mythology. The game has some of that, but for me, it had room to expand. So that resulted in flying wolf monsters the size of football fields.”
“Also, the effects teams were excited, because the monsters – throughout the movie, they don’t stay one size. They actually continue to grow,” Johnson said. “So, I think it was a matter of leaning into the ridiculousness of it – and I mean that in the most positive way.”
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Another thing that grows throughout the film is the relationship between Johnson’s primatologist Davis Okoye and George, the albino silverback gorilla who is his best friend – and then finds himself infected with a mysterious experiment that turns the gentle gorilla into a raging creature of increasingly enormous size – and has Davis desperate to save his friend.
“We wanted to find a rooted anchor in it and have (their) relationship do that,” said Johnson. “But we also wanted to make sure the relationship was fun! We wanted George to have the personality of a 12-year-old, which is not too far from my personality!”
“So, it was a combination of a lot of things, ” he continued. “(We sent) the cast a script saying, ‘Hey, I know you guys have a lot going on, and come from different genres and areas in our business, (but) what do you think?’ They all liked it – and here we are.”
After his recent roles in “Central Intelligence” and “Jumanji” were a bit more comedic in tone, Johnson said he was glad to be back in “badass” mode – to a point.
“I’ve had the opportunity in the past to play some characters who were some pretty cool, badass guys,” he said. “But I think there’s something that just has an intricate feeling…when you can play a badass, but the foe you’re looking at, you have to look up at him and at times run away from. I love that. So, anytime I can put myself in a position like that, it’s great! Especially in a movie like this, where we have the latitude to just have so much fun.”
While George may be Johnson’s best friend in the film, offscreen Johnson made it clear his seemingly symbiotic professional relationship with director Brad Peyton is special, as well.
“It’s my third film with him and there’s ambition there,” he said. “He’s a very ambitious director. I enjoy working with him creatively, as well. I think that he and I have come from the world of sports and..I enjoy being coached. I enjoy being pushed – and not a lot of directors are comfortable in that space – and that’s okay, because I’ll find my inspiration and motivation some other ways..but Brad does have that.”
“He’s also a very ambitious guy,” Johnson continued. “If this is the line, he’s okay to go right up to the line and then step over the line. Like he said, we’re going to take a swing. We don’t get a lot of shots at this..in any business, (so) why not take a swing for the fences? Let’s go for it. We have the ability. We have the talent that will come to the table with us. So let’s take that swing.”
Johnson feels Peyton just has an enthusiasm for his films that is contagious.
“He loves movies and he especially loves movies that make people feel good. I like that too,” said Johnson. “We have very similar DNA like that because I feel like we invest so much time in these movies – but it’s different when you’re a director.”
“I mean, I have the ability – I’m able – to make a movie and, even if I’m producing…I can still go on and work on more movies while other movies are in development. it’s not directing,” Johnson emphasizes. “Brad is on a film for 2 or 3 years and the passion shows…..I like that. I like that about anybody who’s in our business, who’s such a great director..because you have a responsibility to not only making great movies, but …I also like the DNA that we share, which is, ‘Okay, we’re going to make this movie and we literally want to make sure the audience goes home feeling good, or even great, about what they just saw’.”
“Rampage” opens in theaters nationwide April 13.