Tuesday, April 20, 2021

‘Fighting With My Family’ Director Admits Initial Disinterest in Story of WWE’s Paige

*As “Fighting With My Family” gets set to invade theaters, the comedy’s inspirational and funny tone is something to take note of.

While the the story of retired WWE Superstar Paige was enough for Dwayne Johnson to transform the same-name documentary “Fighting With My Family” is based on into a big screen adaptation, the film’s director could not fully smell what The Rock was cooking with a project he initally saw as uninteresting.

“I had never heard of Paige, who you say is the star or the main character in the movie. I had never watched pro wrestling. In fact, moreso didn’t think this was a story that was going to be interesting to me,” Stephen Merchant confessed to EURweb.”It began life as a documentary that was made on British TV about Paige and her family (2012’s “The Wrestlers: Fighting with My Family”). A documentary not that I had seen, but which our producer Dwayne Johnson had seen. He obviously had some history of wrestling and responded to the story, but was looking for a British writer, came to me. And i sat down, if truth be told, thinking, ‘I’m not gonna be interested in this story.’

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Florence Pugh stars as Paige in FIGHTING WITH MY FAMILY, directed by Stephen Merchant, a Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures film.
Credit: Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures
© 2018 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc.  All Rights Reserved.

Starring Florence Pugh as Paige, “Fighting With My Family” explores Paige’s relationship with her family, who share her love of pro wrestling so much they established a local wrestling league (the World Association of Wrestling ) as well as chronicles Paige’s internal struggle to come in to her own as she journeys to make a name for herself in WWE. In addition to Pugh, the comedy stars Nick Frost as Paige’s father, Patrick “Rowdy Ricky Knight” Bevis, Lena Headey as Paige’s mother, Julia “Sweet Saraya” Bevis, Jack Lowden as Paige’s brother, Zak “Zodiac” Bevis, Vince Vaughn and Johnson, who does double duty as one of the film’s producers.

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Dwayne Johnson (left) as Himself and Vince Vaughn (right) as Hutch in FIGHTING WITH MY FAMILY, directed by Stephen Merchant, a Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures film.
Credit: Robert Viglasky / Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures
© 2018 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc.  All Rights Reserved.

Although she ultimately signed on for “Fighting With My Family,” Headey joins Pugh in being aware of WWE and it’s popularity with wrestling fans, but not being a full fan.

“I had not, only because it’s not my world. I’m not really into it,” the “Game of Thrones” fixture told EURweb, when asked whether she was a pro wrestling fan prior to her involvement in “Fighting With My Family I knew WWE was massive and their fandom is vast, but that was my next step of my knowledge.

A self-admitted non wrestling fan in the beginning, Lowden now shares a love for the sport with his co-stars, particularly Frost, when it comes to British wrestling.

“It was definitely something I want to get in to a little more. I vote for sort of a resurgence in the British wrestling scene. I’d love to to see that back on TV in the UK. That must’ve been amazing, after the news,” he mentioned to EURweb.

Unlike Paige, WWE stardom was not in the cards for Lowden’s character Zack, who dedicated his life to earning a shot with WWE. Looking at his own life, Lowden carried dreams of being a standout in drama school, only to have it come crashing down

“I auditioned for drama school. I auditioned for this sort of, the big drama school, in London. and I just grtew up thinking if you got in there, you’d become an actor. If you didn’t get in there, you’d become an amature actor.. I didn’t get past the first round. And I wore specifically a very bright red T-shirt because I thought that would make me stand out. And realized I was in the room on my own so it really didn’t have the desired effect.

Needless to say, Lowden recovered from the let down and “went somewhere else. [Laughs]

For Merchant, resistance proved to be no match against the power of Paige’s story.

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(l-r) Lena Headey, Florence Pugh, and Nick Frost in FIGHTING WITH MY FAMILY, directed by Stephen Merchant, a Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures film.
Credit: Robert Viglasky / Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures
© 2018 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc.Ê All Rights Reserved.

“I was just so engaged by this family,” said Merchant, who ended up writing and helming the “Fighting With My Family” movie.”This family dream of getting their kids in to WWE. And it seemed to me that it was not a story about wrestling. It was a story about family, about a dream, about leaving home, about siblings, about ambition, about being lonely, about feeling like an outsider. It just had all these other big themes that seemed engaged and interesting to me aside from wrestling.”

“Fighting With My Family” arrives in theaters in wide release on Friday (Feb. 22).

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