– The Rock is on the cover of the new issue of Esquire and they have a profile on him at their website. Below are some highlights from the interview:
How accurate is The Wrestler? All that stuff’s for real?
It’s very accurate. I would do blade jobs. I get a call once from the WWE, saying, “Vince [McMahon] would like to see you in Stamford.” I went to his office and he says, “I really think you have a lot of potential, but you’re not ready for the WWE. You should go to Memphis, Tennessee. That’s where I want you to learn the business.” And as I was leaving, he said, “You keep working hard, but don’t go down there and cut your fucking forehead with razor blades, you understand me?”
In the ’60s and ’70s and early ’80s, the trainers would grind you and eventually they would break something—they would break an ankle in ways that it would heal. It was just the way of the business, to ensure that you learned respect for wrestling. It was crazy. My dad [Rocky Johnson, a WWE Hall of Fame grappler] didn’t break anything on me, but he grinded me out every day for months.
Do you enjoy making movies as much as you enjoyed wrestling?
Wrestling is intimate. You can reach out and touch the wrestlers. I don’t get that connection in movies, but the impact is so much greater. You’re able to craft a longer career in movies. In wrestling, there’s a shelf life, and some wrestlers don’t pay attention to the shelf life. Mickey Rourke’s character in The Wrestler—that was my dad, that was my uncles, that was so many members of my family. It was the only thing they knew. And then they would end up wrestling for a hundred bucks, go to autograph signings for two hundred bucks.
Has there been any single special moment when you knew you’d made it as an actor?
About three weeks ago, I’m here at the house and I get a letter—”Been enjoying your movies over the years. Very entertaining. I feel like I’ve really gotten to know you over the years, most recently after watching you host Saturday Night Live. Great job. You continue to go for it. Proud of your work and look forward to meeting you. Steven Spielberg.”
You used to say jabroni a lot in the ring. I love that word.
When I was a kid, it was an inside term that guys would use. When wrestlers wanted to have a private conversation when fans were present, they would start talking carny because they used to wrestle in carnivals. I thought it was so cool. Jabroni was a word that was always used in the derogatory sense. Oh, this jabroni, that jabroni. But the Iron Sheik was famous for saying the word constantly backstage. Jabroni, jabroni, jabroni. Around 1998, I thought, Why can’t I say it on TV? So I started saying it publicly, but the Iron Sheik was known for it.
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