Journey 2: The Mysterious Island hits UK cinemas today (our review of the movie is up here) and we got the chance to chat with Dwayne Johnson (aka The Rock) who stars in the sequel to to the 2008 movie, Journey to the Center of the Earth. This time, it’s Dwayne who takes over the lead role from Brenden Fraser for some pec-popping fun (see the trailer intro here to see what I’m on about!).
In our interview, we get to hear what attracted him to the movie, how often he works out and what it was like to work with legendary actor Michael Caine and relative newcomers, Josh Hutcherson and Vanessa Hudgens.
HeyUGuys: How would you describe Journey 2: The Mysterious Island?
Dwayne Johnson: Journey 2: The Mysterious Island is an epic 3D adventure. It’s fun, it’s visually stunning and it’s groundbreaking in many ways because of the 3D technology we used to make the movie. After James Cameron completed Avatar he adapted and improved the technology of the 3D cameras – and we are the first production to benefit from these advances in technology. We can take this new technology that’s never been seen before and apply it in an expansive way to our movie. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island was written, designed and created specifically for 3D, so it’s incredibly impressive.
How would you describe your character in the movie?
I play a guy called Hank in the movie. Hank is a hardworking, blue-collar guy. He is a man of integrity and a man of his word. He demonstrates great perseverance in the movie, but he also demonstrates a legendary move called the ‘pec pop of love’. He’s one hell of a guy.
What can you tell us about the story of Journey 2: The Mysterious Island?
The story follows a teenager called Sean Anderson and his stepfather, Hank. Sean and Hank embark on an incredible journey to a mysterious island written about by the famous author, Jules Verne. Along the way, there’s a helicopter crash, a run-in with a giant lizard and you get to see the amazing lost city of Atlantis, as well as Captain Nemo’s submarine, the Nautilus. Every attention is paid to detail and that can be seen with the stunning visuals. It’s been an amazing project to work on.
What attracted you to this project?
I was in the mood to make an epic 3D adventure because 3D is something I’d never done before. I’d spent nearly two years playing intense roles, so I wanted to make a big, fun movie. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island was the answer.
How much input did you have into the movie and your character?
I had a lot of input into the movie and the character, which is why I became a producer on the project. The singing in the movie and the ‘pec pop’ scenes were all my ideas.
The mysterious island in the movie is sinking, so there’s a lot of tension, but I started to think about how we could inject some fun into the storyline. How can we implement something that the audiences will enjoy? I was travelling on a plane with one of the producers and we were reading over the script when we discussed the 3D technology we were using in the movie. I wanted to do something fun with my body, so I said, “What if I did something where my chest is popping out in 3D to the audience?” The producer said to me, “Yes, that’s funny. That’s entertaining. We’ve never seen anything like that before, but what else can we do?” He was eating nuts at the time, which is why he then said, “I’ve got it. What if somebody throws berries at your chest and the berries then pop out into the audience?” I thought that was a great idea and then added, “What about if it is rapid fire into the audience?” It was brilliant. The studio loved it. The director loved it and it wound up being the highest testing scene in the movie.
How would you describe the comedy of the movie?
We thought it was incredibly important to take advantage of the wide audience that our movie was going to reach. When it comes to comedy, there’s something for everyone in Journey 2. There’s great comedy for younger children, great comedy for adults – and great comedy for everyone in between. Comedy is crucial in a movie like this because the tension is high and the humour helps to release that tension. For me, a lot of the comedy comes from my character’s verbal spars with Michael Cain’s character. In fact, one of the great joys of working on this movie was the back-and-forth sparring between Michael and me.
How much time was there for improvisation on set?
There was a lot of time for improvisation. However, the key with improvisation is to make sure you’re staying within the same space and spirit of the scene. I have worked with actors who tell me they are going to improvise during a scene, but they end up going miles away from the story. When that happens, you have to reel them back in – but that never happened with the cast of Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. When you’re working with people like Michael Caine and Luis Guzmán, you know that everybody is going to keep it on track.
There was a good amount of comedy in the script when I first read it, but the tone of the comedy was very different to what you see in the finished film. When I first read the script, my character in the movie was very different. At that time, he was a Brendan Fraser-esque character, but then the writers and the producers started to add layers that would fit more to my strengths. After that, we added a lot of the comedy, such as the ‘pec pop’ scene and the song I sing in the movie. The verbal jabbing was also added because we changed the relationship between my character and Michael Caine’s character. Now, Hank’s locker room humour collides with the dry, British, stinging humour from Michael Caine. I love British humour. It’s very witty, it’s very dry and it’s very funny. It works really well in our movie.
What was it like to work with Sir Michael Caine?
It was a complete honour to work with Michael Caine. What a great guy’s guy. I was really happy to meet him and I was even happier to discover that he is incredibly down to Earth. He’s the kind of guy you want to hang out with all the time. He tells great dirty jokes, but at the same time he’s a gentleman to everybody on set. He’s amazing.
What was it like to work with the younger actors in the cast?
Vanessa Hudgens and Josh Hutcherson are great young actors who really impressed me. Making movies is not easy. It’s a lot of fun, but it’s a lot of hard work and it’s tough to find that balance when you’re a teenager. It’s tough to stay smart and not get wrapped up in a lot of the nonsense found in Hollywood. It’s very easy to fall out of clubs and get swept away with being a celebrity, but not these two. They are both very smart and they both have wonderful, solid families. Both of them have really great mothers and if you have a great mother then you have a fantastic shot at being decent.
Click NEXT to read the second part of the interview.