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Interview: Dwayne Johnson Goes Primal for Hobbs & Shaw

The popular actor is proud his Samoan heritage is showcased in the movie.

Jul 30, 2019

By: Lynn Barker

Popular actor Dwayne Johnson talks about his upcoming action film Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw in which he brings back his hulking lawman Luke Hobbs, an agent of America’s Diplomatic Security Service self-described as “An ice-cold can of whoop-ass”. 

I'm not workin' with him!I'm not workin' with him!Courtesy of Universal Pictures

This time Hobbs and former enemy Deckard Shaw (Jason Statham) introduced in 2015’s Furious 7, have to work together to stop a cyber-genetically enhanced baddie with his hands on a biological threat. Shaw’s M16 agent sister Hattie (Vanessa Kirby) has already tangled with him and helps the two former enemies reluctantly partner up to win the day.

Hobbs & Shaw Featurette "Best Of Enemies"

 

In this interview, Dwayne talks about keeping up the spirit and energy of the previous Fast & Furious films while adding in some creative action sequences and a Samoan battle scene that makes him proud of his heritage.  Not since his role in Disney’s Moana has the action superstar been able to shine a light on the Polynesian people while kicking some butt without using guns.

Hobbs leads Samoan warriorsHobbs leads Samoan warriorsCourtesy of Universal Pictures

Q: You have the opportunity to showcase your Samoan culture in this film. How was that?

  • Dwayne: Hobbs has always been a personal character for me because so much of Hobbs and his DNA derive from who I am as a human being and a man. But Hobbs and Shaw is a deeply personal film. It means so much more because we were able to showcase one of my cultures (his mom is Samoan) on the big screen. I was able to do that with “Moana” and that was our way of showcasing the Polynesian culture. I was very proud of that and the story we told.

Dwayne about to go into actionDwayne about to go into actionCourtesy of Universal Pictures
  • In this case, in terms of live action, this was an opportunity that comes around once in a lifetime if you are lucky. I’m half Black and half Samoan. I’m very proud of who I am and what I am and the cultures that I come from. Having this opportunity to showcase my Samoan culture on the big screen in a global event movie, was very special to me and my family. It’s special to Polynesians around the world and certainly Samoans because it had never been magnified before.

Dwayne with Director David Leitch on setDwayne with Director David Leitch on setCourtesy of Universal Pictures

Q: Talk about the action and fights in the film.

  • Dwayne: I have waited my entire career to have fight scenes like this that are raging, savage and primal and without weapons or without guns, just these (he indicates his hands) in modern day. It’s very weird but I felt such joy in these action sequences and fighting this way just using hands and biting somebody’s face and trying to break their neck and using whatever you could.
  • I came up in the world of pro wrestling. There’s no guns or weapons or anything like that. You learn at a very early age how to amateur wrestle then go out and have your matches that, yes, are scripted but they are still very primal in a way and you are grabbing and flexing. I’ve applied a few of those moves in my films but generally there is a weapon involved. In this case, I’m very happy with the way it turned out.

Hobbs and Shaw argue as usualHobbs and Shaw argue as usualCourtesy of Universal Pictures

Q: How is Hobbs & Shaw carrying on the wild spirit of the Fast & Furious films?

  • Dwayne: We though that with Hobbs & Shaw, let’s make sure that we raise the bar; make sure it had the elements; big action set pieces, insane, gravity-defying action. (He laughs). Because, in every Fast & Furious movie and on a spin-off like Hobbs & Shaw, you have to defy gravity every once in a while. I think that’s very important and we do that in spades. It’s very important to us that we had the spirit of a Fast & Furious movie.

Dwayne as Hobbs in Furious 7Dwayne as Hobbs in Furious 7Courtesy of Universal Pictures
  • We also wanted the element of the F-word, in this case Family because it’s a very critical element of the Fast & Furious universe. It’s also a critical element for all the actors involved in that world and in Hobbs & Shaw. We all believe deeply in the power and importance of family, trust in family and always taking care of family. That lives and breathes in our DNA as human beings.
  • On one end we wanted to make sure Hobbs & Shaw had that DNA. But we also wanted to make sure that we had our own identity and had our own voice. But also (make sure we) did feel fresh and cool and bad-ass. We felt like we were telling a cool story so that people can go on a ride with us even if they’ve never seen a Fast & Furious movie. For the Fast & Furious fans, they know that Hobbs and Shaw are characters they love.

The guys kick buttThe guys kick buttCourtesy of Universal Pictures

Q: How important was it to create the ultimate bad guy?

  • Dwayne: We had the opportunity to build the baddest bad guy that the Fast & Furious franchise has ever seen who can wipe out our heroes. That’s the first thing which I think is so cool when you can make a bad guy like that; make a bad guy better than your best good guy. That is a cool bad guy. It put our heroes on the ropes. It automatically put us in a framework of jeopardy. That’s how I’ve built my career over the years even in wrestling. We laugh and joke now that I lost more than I won in wrestling but I was always better when I was vulnerable and getting my ass kicked and I love being in that position (like Hobbs and Shaw are in this film).

Hobbs and Shaw with villain Brixton (Idris Elba)Hobbs and Shaw with villain Brixton (Idris Elba)Courtesy of Universal Pictures

Q: Talk about your leading lady Vanessa Kirby and her character Hattie Shaw.

  • Dwayne: We needed someone of sound mind to come into this chaos between all of us and one who was going to keep this train on track and she does that. But she also has the hard labor of trying to do that all while infected with this virus that is going to end her life and potentially end the world. So, those are some big stakes to play and Vanessa came in and crushed it!

See Dwayne Johnson in Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw in theaters August 2nd.

Courtesy of Universal Pictures
 
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