John Cena has revealed that he was not the original choice to take the starring role in The Marine, instead, it was meant to go to Stone Cold Steve Austin.
The 16-time champion of the world is currently starring in the HBO Max series Peacemaker based on the role he made his own in The Suicide Squad movie. John Cena’s movie career has somewhat humbler beginnings with his first role in the WWE-produced action movie, The Marine.
Speaking to GQ, John Cena discussed that experience and admits he doesn’t feel he was ready for it at the time:
“The Marine was a wonderful experience and it’s one I’ll never forget cause you can’t have a journey without the first step, and the first step is always the boldest. They say timing is everything and I was not ready for the opportunity I was given.”
“I always spoke about how I was courageous enough to step up when I was asked to embrace hip-hop culture on WWE programming. Well, this was a decision made to open a studio to try to diversify the abilities of WWE Superstars.”
Cena says it was his love of WWE that led to him agreeing to the role in the movie that went on to become a franchise in its own right:
“The WWE has a tremendous talent and it’s not just physical talent. I believe their performers just have a knack to know audience. Their improvisational skills are second to none. They possess so much more than just physical gifts and Vince McMahon agreed with this philosophy, opened a studio, and figured if he could make WWE Superstars also movie stars it would be a broader reach.”
“The movies would obviously generate profit, but, furthermore, we could get more people to come to WWE shows. So me, being just enamored with WWE and it was my life’s passion at the time, I said, ‘no problem.’”
John Cena then revealed that his role in the movie was originally meant for Stone Cold Steve Austin and Cena was thrust into the role at the last minute when the Texas Rattlesnake pulled out:
“This was originally a role that was written for Steve Austin and two weeks before shooting, Steve backed out for whatever reason. That’s a conversation for him. Vince said ‘hey, I gotta send you to Australia.’ I said ‘okay, what am I doing?’ And he said ‘well, you’re gonna be in a movie.’ ‘Okay, when?’ ‘I gotta send you in 10 days.’ I pretty much left a small meeting in his office and packed my bags and went to be in the movies, which I knew nothing about.
“So I’m a young man in his mid-20s, I love the life I’m leading. I’m riding a lightning bolt of a live audience every night. I’m champion at the time. As a former athlete, I get to be physical all the time. I have what I believe is a good work-life balance and then I get thrown into cinematic creativity, which is very patient. It is a very slow process and I just wasn’t ready for it.”