John Cena is following in the footsteps of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in forging a successful career in Hollywood after a very long career headlining global WWE spectacles, including the biggest WrestleManias of all time.
Although he’s still keeping one foot partially in the wrestling ring, he’s spending more time on film sets working on big budget Hollywood blockbusters. Cena’s biggest Hollywood endeavor yet, Bumblebee, opens December 21 and features a very different side of the actor. It’s the first Transformers origin story showcasing everyone’s favorite Volkswagen bug.
Cena’s also present in the latest WWE 2K19 game from 2K as a playable superstar, which made us want to ask him some gaming questions when we had phone access to one of the biggest names in sports entertainment over the past few decades. Here’s our exclusive interview!
Can you talk about how the live interaction you get from fans when you’re inside the WWE ring compare to working on a closed set, especially something like Bumblebee where you’re dealing with green screens and your imagination?
It’s just a different trust in the process, and when I say trust in the process, I’m not the director. I’m not the creator. I’m a chess piece, so my job is to create what I believe is a personality but then trust the people above me to give me feedback and trust that they’re not going to show me in a bad light.
I completely have faith whether it’s Travis, or Jay Cannon, or Judd Apatow, or Tina Fey, or Doug Liman, or anyone I’ve had the chance to collaborate with and be directed by. I trust that when they give me a direction it’s for the good of the movie. On the flipside at WWE trusting the process is a whole lot easier because you have 10,000 to 70,000 to 100,000 people that will say you suck or will say that you’re great or will say nothing at all.
So it’s much less of a leap of faith because you have the animal in front of you with this mass reaction, whereas it’s a lot more a leap of faith to trust your director, trust the people around you when they give you a piece of feedback that, “Yeah, it’s a good.” But it hasn’t steered me wrong yet. When I sign up to do a project I believe in the person making the movie.
That’s a very important part of my decision-making process, so that is a very easy thing to do once we actually get to filming. So that’s the difference between filming live and filming on a closed set green screen. I think the faith in the person doing the project and making the movie is paramount.
If you don’t have faith in the director and you feel strongly about your opinions and they clash with the director, you’re fighting an uphill battle. It would be like me performing a match with a silent crowd and I’m shaking my fists and they just don’t get it. That’s not right. My job is for them to get it. So if my art is too complicated and I’m having a match for myself, then I’m not doing my job well.
When it comes to your own work in addition to being on the big screen you’re also back in WWE 2K19. What role do you feel that video game franchise has played in connecting and broadening the global audience that you have out there with WWE fans?
Well, certainly as our culture moves more and more towards gaming I think that it’s an essential piece of continuing to keep WWE relevant. If WWE didn’t have the game I think we would definitely become severely detached from a culture of gamers that age ranges from myself and older to myself to extremely young.
I think the 2K franchise has done a great job of keeping the games innovative, keeping gamers interested in them, so if gamers are interested in them, they kind of gravitate towards the product. It’s really cool to be able to see a video game actually come to life or vice versa, life becomes a video game and I think us as WWE superstars are always really surprised at how authentic and realistic the games look.
But the depth that they go, and then the continuous dive to like career mode and the certain aspects of the game that keep that game new and fresh, keep the gaming community entertained and then obviously really aid at keeping us relevant across the world.
And the last thing I wanted to ask you is how good are you at that WWE game, or gaming in general these days. You have a background in liking the Command & Conquer games back in the day, but what about today?
I am obsolete. That is a great word to define my gaming. I really – this is just me not exploring outside of my comfort zone. I kind of stop at like the original PlayStation. I think the last game I was really addicted to that wasn’t hex-based strategy was probably Tiger Woods ’04 or Madden ’03.
I really gravitated toward the NCAA Football franchise, but like I really think I excel in 8-bit sports games, Baseball Stars, Bases Loaded, Techbo Superbowl, Blades of Steel, Double Dribble, Jordan vs. Bird. I can continuously give you titles like that I really don’t mind picking up and playing. I also love Super Nintendo like F-Zero and NCA Basketball Super Nintendo.
These games I can just kind of rattle off, like pick up to play, but I think that’s why I’m obsolete. Anyone can pick up and play those games but as good as I think I’m telling you over the phone here, if I sit down with someone who is polished in gaming today and they’re whatever they’re into, the controllers are so super, and there’s so many bugs that they would pick up an 8-button controller and absolute eat my lunch.
So, I kind of watch it from afar and I keep tabs on everything, but man, I’m on the outskirts of the rabbit hole. I’m certainly not anywhere deep inside the rabbit hole on that.
Well, the good thing is all those retro games are all popular now again just like the old Bug is now popular again, so that’s good.
Yeah, it’s really cooling to see companies like Nintendo come out with like the small consoles unit that has the games always downloaded in it. I thought that was a great idea and just see if it can be successful is also a great thing because it shows that they’re still popular.
They’re really fun to play and I think you can just pick up and go and that’s what was great about those console games – that’s kind of what was great about what the original concept of an arcade. You could throw a few quarters in and still do okay, so that’s kind of where I’m at. I can still do okay on those games, but I’m out of my league on the new stuff. I get my ass kicked in any of the 2K games. I really am not good.