Dwayne Johnson to star in his "first true dramatic role"
Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, wrestler turned Hollywood star, may have made a name for himself in high-octane action films and comedies, but now the Samoan will make his first entry into the drama genre.
Fear not, The Rock will still be putting his muscles to good use, playing UFC legend Mark Kerr. However, Variety reports the film will be “Johnson’s first true dramatic role in his career”.
Kerr was at his peak a two-time heavyweight champion in the UFC and considered one of the greatest fighter in the world from 1997 to 2009. The 50-year old American, otherwise known as ‘The Smashing Machine, ‘The Titan’, and ‘The Specimen’ has an MMA record of 15 wins out of 27 matches and a wrestling record of 13 wins out of 14 matches. He was undefeated in MMA from 1997 to 2000, with one ‘no contest’ in 1999.
In 2002, Kerr was the muse for an HBO documentary named ‘The Smashing Machine’, not only focusing on the American’s fighting career, but also his addiction to prescription drugs and relationship issues.
With this in mind, The Rock’s portrayal of the fighter is primed to be his most dramatic role yet.
Johnson announced his role in the film during the evening of UFC 244 between Nate Diaz and Jorge Masvidal. The two UFC fighters met in the Octagon contending for the freshly-made MBF belt and title.
Variety reports: “Mark Kerr’s story is such an incredible story,” Johnson said, addressing his fans at Madison Square Garden, after he made the surprise announcement Friday night that he’d be portraying Kerr on film. “Like all of us, and like a lot of these fighters, he battled these demons — these demons of addiction, these demons of mental health, these demons of getting out and the pressure of fighting in front of 50,000 people and what that does to somebody.”
“Here’s a guy who has gone through it all, hit rock bottom, but the best part about Mark Kerr is that, like all of us in this room and all these fighters, these warriors, is that everyday, we get up and we want to do a little bit better tomorrow than we did today.”
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This one has a deep personal connection to me considering the many parallels our lives had. Thank you, @markkerrtsm for trusting me and @sevenbucksprod with your life rights and extraordinary story. This man was once considered the greatest heavyweight MMA fighter in the world. A true pioneering UFC legend. And truly, one of one. Demons of fame, drug addiction, mental health and the pressure to be #1, took over. Like many fighters in the cage or the ring, there’s a deep humanity and depth of character with this man that the world should see. We’ve all hit rock bottom. Some make it back up. Some don’t. Giving this one my all. #MarkKerr #TheSmashingMachine
Johnson took to Instagram to elaborate on the role and said he was drawn to Kerr’s story as Johnson felt it drew so many parallels to his own life, striving to be the best in the fighting world. On a more personal note, Johnson was touched by Kerr’s story and said “It’s a dramatic role, but Mark lives a dramatic life. It’s an opportunity to shine a light on one of our warriors, who not only deserves it, but who has such universal appeal and a universal story.”
The Rock assures that he’s been talking to Kerr personally about the role and got the former-fighter’s blessing to bring his story to the big screen.
The film is currently in early development, with no studio named yet. What is known is it is being produced by Johnson’s own production company, Seven Bucks Productions. Johnson’s production company has created hits like ‘Hobbs & Shaw’, the ‘Jumanji’ reboots, and ‘San Andreas’.