A Stone Cold Video Favourite…

Wednesday, September 22 2010
A Stone Cold Video Favourite…

The route from the world of wrestling to films, and eventually home entertainment, is a well trodden one. It stretches back to legendary figures such as Andre The Giant, who appeared in The Princess Bride some three decades ago and has most recently been exemplified by the likes of Hulk Hogan and The Rock, now better known as Dwayne Johnson.

Those two started off in action films, before eventually turning up in more family friendly comedies – the latter’s most recent starring role was, of course, in The Tooth Fairy, and he is proving to be a hugely bankable star.

It’s harder to see Steve Austin, formerly better known as Stone Cold Steven Austin, moving into family movies, even though his film career is certainly progressing in the right direction. His movie persona is similar to that honed as a wrestler, mean, tough, but honourable.

After a long and successful career in the WWE wrestling business, Austin kicked off his movie career in The Condemned, an actioner that paired him alongside Vinnie Jones and was a pivotal DTV title on these shores. Further outings have seen him cement his reputation as a bankable video star, before this year hitting paydirt in The Expendables, the summer’s big theatrical action hit, and Anchor Bay’s Hunt To Kill, out on October 11.

“It’s my favourite movie I’ve made so far,” Austin said of the latter, chatting to The Raygun in a transatlantic phone call. “I’m learning every time I take a project. I’m still working at [my film career].”

The acting is, essentially, an extension of his wrestling career. “When I was in the ring, it was all ad-libbed and impromptu. You’d just go for it. When the red light was on, I was on. I knew that guy [the Stone Cold persona that he adopted] inside and out.

“Now it’s more doing the preparation and the research to bring a character to life.”

But while there are similarities, there are, Austin noted, a lot of differences too.

“In the WWE, I spent a lot of time travelling, you’d fly [to events] or get a car and drive. You’d get to the ring, be working for 15-35 minutes, before you do that, you’d go to the gym. On a movie set, you’re working these 15 to 16 hour days. And if you don’t get it done, it don’t get done.”

It was particularly tough during the filming of Hard To Kill, he added. Shot in the winter, in Canada, it follows Austin who, along with his teenage daughter, is kidnapped by a vicious gang of thieves who need the border patrolman to help guide them through the wilds to track their stolen loot.

“The problem was,” he laughed, casting his mind back to the shooting , “freezing your ass off, it’s a tough day at the office.”

The stop/start nature of filming didn’t help either: “All of a sudden, you’ve got to go straight into a fight scene, you’d get warm, do a segment, change cameras and then you’d get colder. You do that all day and the next day too, not like in a wrestling match.”

Like many WWE superstars (the organisation’s own way of referring to its talent), Austin is humble and modest, praising the fans’ loyalty. He paid tribute to the WWE and its fans: “I wouldn’t be where I am without my wrestling career,” he explained. “It’s a great training ground and I owe it all to that body of work.”

He doesn’t, he joked, miss the hospital visits, but as he added: “I have very, very fond memories of it.”

Austin doesn’t even miss his Stone Cold moniker that much (he is now merely Steve Austin, in the same way The Rock is now simply Dwayne Johnson). “When I walk down the street, people don’t know me as Steve Austin, but call me Stone Cold. For my films I want to be Steve Austin, not Stone Cold.It’s nice to just be Steve Austin.”

He further acknowledged how well supported he is in the UK; his WWE notoriety has certainly helped boost his value as an action star.

“My films have done well, particularly in England,” he concluded. “I’m thankful to my fanbase. They like a good time, they like a pint of beer and luckily they like my movies.”

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