The Rock Talks Spy Hunter: Nowhere to Run

Can you smell what Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is cooking? Hint: It reeks of teen angst, stale testosterone, and, of course, freshly-minted greenbacks.   Having already climbed to thetop of the pop culture world as a former WWE champion and actor (The Scorpion King, Be Cool), he’s finally making his first marquee interactive debut. Curiously, the Hawaiian-born, half-Samoan starwill lend both his voice and likeness to the role of Alex Decker, secret agent extraordinaire, in Midway’s Spy Hunter: Nowhere to Run for PlayStation 2 and Xbox this September.  
Inspired by the 1983 arcade classic, the game sees Johnson, as Decker, hop behind the wheel of futuristic, missile- and oil slick-equipped auto the Interceptor, which also transforms into amotorcycle and speedboat. No word yet on whether or not the Peter Gunn theme song will once again be featured. But we do know this: For the first time ever in the franchise’s history, while squaringoff against evil organization NOSTRA, players are granted the option of exiting the car and literally kicking butt.   Can the same guy who made Walking Tall actually worth watching, The Rundownsurprisingly enjoyable and pro wrestling semi-cool this side of pubescence work his signature magic on such a unique property? Let’s hope so: If the experiment fails, audiences will be forced torelive it all over again in 2007, when a Spy Hunter movie, again starring Johnson, hits theaters nationwide.   We dropped a line to the man with the world’s most recognizable raised eyebrow(a.k.a. he who also dared to star in the ill-fated Doom motion picture), about the venture. Here, Johnson shares his passion for gaming and interest in developing mediums, not to mention clarifieswho’s the bigger chump: Him or fellow muscle-bound, multimillion dollar paycheck-packing videogame junkie Vin Diesel.   Q: From wrestling to acting to videogames – what’s with theunlikely career path?The Rock  A: What can I say? I love videogames, especially sports games. I’m totally into Madden, NBA Live – I always have them set up in my trailer. I’m the king of Madden in general.  AndI’m the absolute, unequivocal king of Madden 06. Sure, I play it by myself. But I am the king.   Q: Speaking of so-called kings, we hear you scored the Spy Hunter role, but fellowgaming addict Vin Diesel landed the headlining slot in Midway’s The Wheelman flick and game. Between you and him, we have to ask: Who would win in a fight?   A: Let me tell yousomething right now. I would knock his butt into next week, and then I’d whip his butt for leaving.   Q: Point taken. Apart from the odd WWE spin-off cameo, appearing in videogamesmust still be pretty new to you. Any funny stories you’d care to share from your Spy Hunter: Nowhere to Run motion capture and voice recording experience?   A: Big time butt whooping. Iknew that the developers over at Midway with Spy Hunter were going to create a game that’s going to not only compete with, but also kick butt on screen, visually, from the graphics to thestoryline, like everything’s really on point. And then I thought from my end, my responsibility was to bring a mode of action that you had never seen before. So, of course, I had an array ofweapons that I used which is cool, and a lot of characters in videogames have that. But then I thought how can I creatively maim and bring death upon someone with my own two hands?   So what Idid was I had my stunt double, who I think you know is my cousin, that I have with me in all my movies. We went through an array of moves and tried to create just really cool ways where people wouldexperience the big "wow" moment when you actually played it. So, I took a lot of the wrestling moves that I used to do, from the rock bottom to like the jackknife. In the game I do ajackknife, but instead of bringing the opponent down by twisting and turning him on his back, I’d bring him straight down like if I was doing a Death Valley driver. And directly on hishead…
Q: Yikes – sounds like you had a lot of fun interpreting for yourself what sorts of melee attacks players should have at their disposal.   A: Yeah, it’s thegreatest.  I took a lot of those moves that you would find from Japanese wrestlers and instead of protecting the guy, like I would do in wrestling, I would just literally bring them down ontheir head and try and break their neck and do anything possible. I mean, it’s just awesome. So I was able to do that and I had to go out and buy my stunt double a lot of meals after that.  Q: Any key moments from the recording session that truly stand out in your mind, though?   A: My favorite is the spandex suit! They threw me in this spandex suit forhours. All the ladies were watching and they realized why they call me the Rock and there were three dudes who were standing by too, so I don’t know what deal was. But it was cool.   Q: Alex Decker – who is this guy, what makes him so snazzy, and why are you the perfect person to be playing him?   A: Alex Decker is the essential hunter of bad spies.Turncoat spies, if you will. And he searches the globe for these people. He’s on a mission. And, without getting overcomplicated with the storyline, he just happens to have the world’sgreatest weapon at his disposal, and it happens to be the Interceptor, that, as you know, morphs into a boat and a motorcycle.   I basically wanted to make sure that he brought a bravado andform of physicality to the role that you don’t really see with a lot of characters in videogames. Just in terms of how he can dismantle and bring death upon somebody with his bare hands. Thatwas pretty much the challenge, creatively, to try and figure out a way to do that…   Another element which was really, really important to me, that we were able to capture (and I’mgrateful that Midway was on board with it and we all collectively saw the same vision) was to bring a strong sense of humor to the character. And we were able to reflect that in the voiceovers. Sothere are a lot of funny things going on. You know, in this world of espionage and action and amazing assault vehicles and things like that complete with great badass guys, the character still findstime to be funny, which is important.   The Rock Game PosterQ: What do you think of the game so far, and how well does it meet the expectations you had going into theproject?   A: I mean that thing is badass. When they showed me the footage of what the Interceptor was going to look like it was amazing. It raced off a cliff as the Interceptor, andright as it was about to hit water, that theme kind of kicked in, the musical score, and then it started to morph and pieces started to fall off, and it just turned right into a boat as soon a it hitwater. Boom! Badass. As soon as it hit the land again, whoosh, right into a motorcycle. It is awesome.   Q: Ever play the original arcade version of Spy Hunter? Any fondmemories…  For example, beating kids up to take their change so you could afford to play it?   A: Oh yeah. That’s like old school, way back in the day. I kept feedingthat damn machine all my money, man. And, plus, the cool thing was the Peter Gunn theme, which I always liked. You know, as soon as that Spy Hunter car came out, man, or the weapons van, it was likedamn. I love that. I was a big fan of the arcade game, which is why I signed on to be part of the team.    Q: Between this and Doom, what’s with the affinity for movies based ongames and games in general – got an obsession with all things wired?   You know, Spy Hunter actually fell into my lap prior to Doom. But between when you hire new writers and all,because it’s such a big project, it requires time and patience. So you don’t want to rush anything. We certainly didn’t. Then Doom came up and I was excited about that. I had playedthe game before, and not only that, but then it’s like okay, now I can be part of a genre that I’d never been involved in, and make a movie. Not necessarily just the videogame genre, butalso the sci-fi horror genre as well. Who could refuse?   Q: In Spy Hunter: Nowhere to Run, you drive weapons-laden super-car The Interceptor. What type of ride do you push in real life– a Pinto?   A: Like Roger Miller, I’m king of the road. Cars are my toys. I got an awesome Mercedes that I just had made, custom Mercedes, you’d never find anythinglike it on the road. It’s awesome. Black, 500, redid the body, great wheels on there. It talks to me, tells me how fine I am. It tells me like, hey, you need to brush your teeth. I’m abig truck guy too. I just I love trucks so, an F250, an Escalade truck, a whole other bunch of trucks.   Q: Mind sharing some info on the upcoming film, how it relates to the game, andwhich you’ve enjoyed being in more?   A: Well I think that people can expect a great story, well-written. Not overcomplicated.  And funny. And great action. Really great action.Some of the set pieces that are written already by [director] Stuart Beatty are absolutely mind-blowing. So it’s really fantastic   Q: Finally, we have to ask: Any hope we’ll getto break fools off in the game with The People’s Elbow®?   A: No, no, no. We didn’t do anything like that because we can put these moves in there, but I think the minute youstart dropping a people’s elbow or something like that, then it kind of takes you out of the game. I didn’t want to ruin the experience for the player.    There are still acouple of signature moves that I put in there, though. For example, the rock bottom was a big finishing move for me, signature move. So we did that. And there are different versions of [suplexes] andthings like that that I learned from a lot of Japanese wrestlers, that if they’re performed the way they’re supposed to be performed, they’re highly, highly dangerous.   So I just took it to another level. It’s just crazy the stuff we’ve come up with. And it all turned out awesome. I saw it all get played back and I couldn’t be happier. It’s great –you’ll love it.       Spy Hunter Screen Shots:      Spy Hunter

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