On the people that inspired them in their lives to follow their dreams.
John Cena: My old man was a pretty good guy. He didn't realize what he was doing at the time but he was self-employed, self-made and raised 5 sons, 5 hellacious, 5 horrible sons. I didn't know what I was going to do, and I'm still exploring options of what I am going to do with my life. But at a young age, and without sitting us down and brow beating us, he showed us that there is no substitute for hard work to succeed and get the things you want in life. He gave us that lesson by example. I love him to death. We've had our differences but when push comes to shove he just taught me that you could do whatever you want. Here is a guy who wasn't much out of high school and created a business for himself and on top of that brought five beautiful kids into this world. He is very proud of his sons. He instilled in me that if you show up and work hard that good things will happen.
John's High School Wrestling Career
Believe it or not, I took a wrestling elective in college. I was an phys ed major and you had to take a bunch of electives just in case you wound up teaching phys ed or coaching. I was a football player by trade. I did a little bit of track in high school. For .5 credits, I learned the basics of amateur wrestling.
In this movie you teach a high school wrestler how to become an amateur wrestler. I get lots of emails from high school students that want to be just like you and become a pro wrestler. What advice would you give to them to follow in your footsteps?
I think that sports entertainment is an element that will always be there. It's been around since the turn of the 1900's. It will be around for ever. So, I stress to get that high school education first. I'm a college graduate. Like I said, I was a prolific football player, a team captain, an All-American. Sports entertainment wasn't really my first choice. I really wanted to play football but I knew that with my size and ability that I was destined to play in college and that was about it. It wasn't until after I received my education that I seriously looked at sports entertainment as a way to make a career for myself. You've got to take it in stride. It's just like acting or professional sports. 1% of 1% of people that try out for it will actually be able to say that they make a living off of doing it. If you're more prepared to tackle life after wrestling then it will actually better your career in wrestling.
Vulnerability and invincibility as themes in the movie
Here you see this mountain of a man on-screen and you wonder why he has fallen on hard times especially because he had such a prolific career as a high school athlete. What went wrong? I believe it is because he put all his chips in one basket. I think that the story delivers in a great way that a helping hand can come from an unexpected source. It comes from his younger, smaller, non-athletic little brother. I believe in Mike's (his character in the movie) case that he relied so much on his dad that when his dad died he was unable to harness his ability.
John's thoughts on a scene in the movie that Patricia Clarkson called one of the best of her career
I'm a sports guy. I take a lot from sports because it shows pure emotion and raw competition at its bare essential. I compare working with Patty to being put in the New York Yankees lineup. There are a lot of players that come to New York that aren't much before they come to New York. Then when they become Yankees they become All Stars. I'll use Nick Swisher as an example. He wasn't much with the White Sox but is now in contention for MVP and was an All Star this year. He has had a career year because he is surrounded by greatness. When you are surrounded by people that are that much better than you, you have two choices. You can let your performance go to hell or you can step up and rise to the occasion. Being in scenes with someone so professional and so emotional, you have no other choice but to get involved. When we were shooting that scene, there were so many times that I didn't care about the cameras. It was just very real and very genuine. However you find that, and every actor will give you a different recipe for chicken soup, the matter of fact is that it just shows up. For me it was because I was with someone who brought it out of me. I'm very thankful for that. It did wonders for me and lets everyone know that I'm not just a pro wrestling Superman that I actually will have some more movies to make in this business and it was due to a very wonderful performance. I'm extremely proud to have been a part of that.
Do you have the acting bug?
I always have. I do episodic television. Our form of entertainment is very different than making movies but it is entertainment. We entertain millions of people every week. I've always been a class clown. I'm more apt to be making fun of myself on Monday night but to be able to do something like this, taking myself in a completely different direction. Like Patricia said, the whole goal of me in this movie was to make myself seem as vulnerable, small and unassuming as I possibly could. I was really happy watching the film and seeing that.