Most of the time, press conferences for big blockbuster movies are opportunities for the actors to crack a few jokes, share a fun story or two about making the movie, and that’s about it. It’s rare that anything actually substantial comes out of these Q&A sessions, but the press conference for Rampage, the upcoming film adaptation of the video game, was a little bit different.
During the conference, actor Joe Manganiello (who plays a mercenary in Rampage) revealed that star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was in talks to lead a Dungeons and Dragons movie, and Johnson confirmed it. Read about The Rock Dungeons and Dragons connection, the Rampage movie’s special homage to the video game on which it’s based, and more below.
The Rock Dungeons and Dragons Movie?
P.J. Byrne plays a character in Rampage, but he also moderated the press conference yesterday afternoon in Hollywood. When he asked Manganiello how the former True Blood actor got his role in this movie, Manganiello explained:
“I wrote a version of a Dungeons and Dragons film when it was at Warner Bros., and I found out that Brad [Peyton] was a big fan of the property and was looking to direct a Dungeons and Dragons film. I think they were also talking to you about that as well (points to Dwayne, who nods).
So I got my agents to connect me to Brad, I said, ‘I want to talk to Brad and see what his idea is. I have this script.’ We got on a Skype call, and after a few minutes, Brad was like, ‘Hey man, listen. I’m down in Atlanta. I’m getting ready to shoot this movie Rampage. I’ve got this great role if you want to play it. Why don’t you come down? We’ll shoot this movie, we’ll talk about Dungeons and Dragons, and we’ll go from there.’ That’s how I ended up in Rampage.”
We didn’t have an opportunity to follow up and ask about the status of that potential Dungeons and Dragons movie or whether or not Johnson is still having those discussions about possibly starring in it, but what the heck would a Dwayne Johnson-led D&D movie written by Joe Manganiello look like? This could be one of those “what if” scenarios movie fans debate about among themselves for years.
And can you imagine how much Vin Diesel would freak out if The Rock made a D&D film? Diesel loves D&D, going as far as to plan the Fast & Furious franchise like a D&D dungeon master, and after Johnson’s recent comments about how he and Diesel still aren’t on good terms following the Candy Ass saga, Diesel would be livid if Johnson ended up starring in a D&D movie. At this point, I wouldn’t put it past Johnson to take the role just to spite Diesel. But we’ll have to wait and see how it all plays out.
The Director Was Surprised By His Own Movie
Brad Peyton, who also directed Johnson in Journey 2: The Mysterious Island and San Andreas, explained that because of the film’s quick schedule, even he ended up being caught off guard by the last act of the movie.
“This movie was shot really fast. It was done in 55 days, which is 20 days less than San Andreas, and then we had six weeks less in post. So for me, I was doing visual effects, the mix, the music, all at the same time, which is not normal…
It was interesting because the end of this movie was a lot of green screens and Dwayne and ‘There’s a giant wolf there,’ and ‘Look at that stick and run around.’ It came together so quickly that even I, on the mix stage, seeing the music and sound come in so quickly, for the last 25 minutes of the movie, even though I drew it all and storyboarded it and pre-vized it an all that, I had moments of like, ‘Holy God, this is bananas.’ It got so big, it kept growing. Again, the post was so rapid, and WETA Digital, Peter Jackson’s company, came in with so much great stuff, that even the person that planned it was like, ‘Oh my God, this is crazy.’”
Rampage’s Homage to the Video Game
One of the characters has a Rampage arcade cabinet in his/her office, which is clearly visible in the background of several shots in the movie. But there’s another reference that’s a bit more subtle than that. One of the female characters (to avoid spoilers, I won’t reveal which one) is eaten by one of the giant monsters, and Johnson explained that was their shout-out to the old-school game:
“It was just a cool, awesome death…that was our big homage to the video game. In the video game, famously, as the monsters go on their total destruction, there’s a lady in a red dress. Sometimes she gets away and sometimes she gets eaten. It was very cool to see with an audience and watch it erupt that way.”
How Making Rampage is Different Than a Bond Film
Oscar-winning actress Naomie Harris plays Moneypenny in the Daniel Craig James Bond films, and when asked to compare her experience making those films with what was required of her here, she said they couldn’t be more different:
“I actually went into it thinking it was going to be the same kind of deal. But actually it was completely different, because Bond doesn’t really have green screen. We’re out in the real world doing those stunts, and largely, we’re doing them for real. This was reacting to tennis balls. The tennis balls were numbered one to seven. ‘Look at three: the building has collapsed! Look at five: the wolf is flying across at you!’ I was completely out of my mind. I was absolutely terrified, because this was something completely new to me. So I had to really lean on Dwayne. He was amazing. He’s the master at this – this is his world, and it’s not mine at all.”
Jeffrey Dean Morgan on His Over The Top Character
Rampage seems to have been well received so far, but for me, Malin Akerman and Jeffrey Dean Morgan were the only two actors in the film who felt like they really knew what kind of movie they were in. They both turn in appropriately over the top performances, but Morgan especially relishes every opportunity to chew on the scenery. He plays a heavily-accented federal agent who may as well be a modern cowboy, and he gets to utter the film’s best line: “When science shits the bed, I’m the guy they call to clean the sheets.”
At the press conference, he explained that he was initially hesitant to go so over the top with his performance, but Brad Peyton encouraged him to crank it up:
“I have to give mad props to our director, Brad. He really had this idea of what Russell was going to be. Your introduction to him, walking down that walkway. Brad had this all in his head. ‘We’re going to start with cowboy boots and we’re going to come up and it’s a big-ass belt buckle,’ and there’s a whole visual thing. At first, I was like, ‘Oh, this is a lot. Oh man, this might be too much.’ Then we got there, and I started picking out belt buckles and guns. The gun was what was like, ‘Yeah.’ I mean, he wears it in a place you could never wear a gun in real life. You know, in front of his dick. Who puts a gun there? (laughs) But we wanted it in every shot! It was so cool. Probably not the most practical, but it worked, and I think it all came from wardrobe, this character. And talking to Brad. He really talked me into it, because I was like, ‘Can we under-play it a little bit?’ and by the end I was like, ‘How big can I go?’ (laughs)”
Rampage hits theaters on April 13, 2018.