Dwayne Johnson: Savior of film franchises
LOS ANGELES (AP) — When your film franchise has gotten tired — the Fast aren't quite as Furious, the Mummy needs a reason to Return — Dwayne Johnson is the guy to call.
The 40-year-old actor has become a savior of stale film series, injecting new life into "Fast Five," ''The Mummy Returns," ''Journey 2: The Mysterious Island" and now "G.I. Joe: Retaliation." The former professional wrestler rocks established franchises by joining them on the second or subsequent installment and boosting the property's box office.
"Fast & Furious 6" and "Journey 3" are on the way, and Johnson's "Mummy" character got his own spinoff film, "The Scorpion King."
"We call him franchise Viagra," said "Retaliation" director Jon M. Chu. "He comes in and he elevates everything, not just physically, but energy-wise... He was the only one in our minds that could reinvent G.I. Joe and carry the franchise forward."
In "Retaliation," Johnson takes over for Channing Tatum, the star of 2009's "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra." Tatum plays a smaller role in the sequel as Johnson introduces moviegoers to Roadblock, a character from the G.I. Joe universe who's built like a tank but always served second in command.
"He was the glue who held all the G.I. Joes together, but he was happily in the shadows," Johnson said. "To bring him to life and then try to help elevate the franchise with that character is pretty cool."
In this Saturday, March 23, 2013 photo, Dwayne Johnson poses for a portrait at the Four Seasons in Los Angeles. The 40-year-old actor has become a savior of stale film series, injecting new life into “Fast Five,” “The Mummy Returns,” “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island” and now “G.I. Joe: Retaliation.” The former professional wrestler rocks bourgeoning and established franchises by joining them on the second or subsequent installment and boosting the property's box office. (Photo by Eric Charbonneau/Invision/AP)
Johnson grew up playing with G.I. Joe action figures, so he was especially excited to be a part of Joe's second cinematic outing.
"It would be like if George Lucas called me and said, 'Hey, want to be in Star Wars?" the actor said.
In fact, he's open to joining any film franchise he might be able to help.
"If I can create a character that audiences will really like and love going on a journey with — whether it's 'Fast Five' or 'G.I. Joe' or even 'Journey 2: The Mysterious Island,' or everything else we have coming up — then I jump at that opportunity," Johnson said, noting the creative challenge. "How do you elevate something that's already successful? What do you do? How do you make it different? How do you make it fun? How do you make it cool?"
The Associated Press asked Johnson what role he might play in some of the top-grossing movie franchises of all time, including a few that may seem finished. The Rock, tongue firmly in cheek, is willing to revive them.