John Cena is still waiting on a call to come back for the Fast & Furious finale.
The WWE star-turned-actor debuted as the long-lost brother of Dom Toretto (Vin Diesel) in this summer’s F9. No spoilers, but by the end of the movie, it felt like we’d be seeing Jakob again in the future as the Fast saga draws to a close.
Fast & Furious 10, the first of a two-part conclusion to the mainline series, will hit cinemas on April 7, 2023. We know it’s going to all seven continents, we know it’s going to be the ‘best movie ever made’ – but we don’t know if Cena will be involved, as he’s not yet been asked to return.
We spoke to the star ahead of the release of Vacation Friends, a brand-new comedy with Cena and Meredith Hagner as Ron and Kyla, a rambunctious, drug-loving couple who collide with the more sensible, newly-engaged Marcus and Emily (Lil Rey Howery and Yvonne Orji). After a week of drunken, dangerous, hilarious fun, they turn up unannounced to the wedding, where chaotic jollity ensues.
Cena’s comedic appearances in the likes of Trainwreck and Sisters illustrate one thing: the man can take a joke. While other buff action stars may avoid being the butt of a gag – quite literally in Blockers – he has no problem laughing at himself.
‘That’s something that’s far more important to me than in the comedy realm, but I think that’s a good approach in life. Don’t take yourself too seriously, be invested in what you’re doing and be driven and have a perspective… but don’t ever take yourself too seriously.’
Not to say he isn’t adept in the realm of serious action, particularly with his recent debut as Peacemaker in The Suicide Squad. Comedy is something Cena really enjoys, but he’s not aiming for one particular genre – he’s just having fun and looking for new challenges.
‘Man, I just want to play dress up. I just don’t want a real job. I really enjoy doing what I do, I enjoy entertaining folks, and because I don’t take myself too seriously – especially when I read comedy on the page – I can see the value I can bring to those comedic moments. I envision myself exaggerating what’s on the page even more, and the bounds I can push it to.’
‘I’m not strictly searching for comedy, I enjoy laughing… I like to laugh like anybody else. Comedies are fun. It’s a lot more fun to do a movie where you go bar-hopping than it is to do an intensely choreographed fight sequence.
‘Now, the fight sequence is incredibly rewarding, but I’m not telling too many jokes while I’m trying to duck and parry punches and knock a gun away from somebody and jump out of a building. So it is very serious, very cinematically based – it’s just a different kind of focus. Not to say I don’t enjoy that, but I think everybody likes having fun. Comedies are fun to film, man.’
Vacation Friends also shows off his golf skills in one particularly memorable scene. ‘I will say – and I’m just gonna say this, I’ll let the cast and crew verify – I actually hit that drive. A dogleg left, par four, it was actually 300 and change. I didn’t put it on the true short grass, but dammit I got close.’
The new comedy is set to premiere on Star on Disney+ in the UK, and Hulu in the US. Once upon a time, in the days of Wedding Crashers and The Hangover, this type of film would be a box office darling. ‘I think right now, box office success is so unpredictable – I think it’s redefining itself as we go,’ Cena said.
‘You see tentpole movies opening to non-tentpole numbers… nobody understands where we’re headed. I will say thank you to Hulu because they understand a movie like this. You bring up Wedding Crashers. Wedding. Crashers. I get what that is, and there’s a movie about it that’s hilarious. Vacation. Friends. I get what that is, and there’s a movie about it that’s hilarious.
‘I think it does use that formula of two words, you get what the title is. The Hangover could be another example. It’s a relatable instance that we all feel has happened in our lives, to the ridiculous.’
‘I’m really grateful to Hulu for giving us the chance to make the movie, because I think it’s something a lot of people will laugh at, and the fate of comedy at the box office is yet to be determined. I still think that anything is good and entertaining can be successful, but we are redefining what box office success is, and I think we all need to understand that and grade accordingly.’
When it comes to his WWE brethren, Cena has no problem being asked about any ‘rivalry’ between himself, Dwayne Johnson and Dave Bautista – the latter of whom has made it abundantly clear in the past that he doesn’t like any comparisons. ‘Those guys are wrestlers who became movie stars. I’m… something else. I was a wrestler. Now, I’m an actor,’ the Guardians of the Galaxy star said in 2019.
Cena, on the other hand, thinks it’s ‘great, I love the fact we all come from the same family. I also understand the difficulty of constantly being compared to someone when you’re trying to chart a different path, just because you have the same origin’.
He continued, ‘If you look at the same origin, we were all three very different characters in WWE. All tremendously successful. We’ve all had three different paths of career choice outside of WWE. But the wide net is to put us all in the same clump, saying you’re this and you’re that… sometimes that can be difficult to hear, so I can understand any frustration that may come out of that comparison.
‘I love it, just because I love WWE and I love the fact that it shows that we’re more than what you see in the ring. I think the stereotype that goes along with being a WWE superstar is we’re good and bad and only that. I love the fact that each person has found their own way, and I think it shows the versatility of the performers and the fact that we’re not overdramatic stunt performers that tell narrative through sports entertainment.
‘I think it’s real special. I don’t hold it against anyone in their choices and path. Dwayne is in a universe all by himself. He’s once in multi-generations. Dave does amazing character work and is really bona fide prolific actor. I love watching his stuff. I know my skillset, I know the stuff I wanna try to do, I wanna challenge myself to keep getting better and better.’
Before our interview drew to a close, I asked whether any discussions had begun for Fast & Furious 10. ‘Man, I hope they’ve started because I know they’re gonna film them soon,’ he said.
‘Whether they include me or not, I still don’t know yet, I really enjoyed being part of the Fast family and if my existence is only the blink of an eye, at least I had that blink and I’m very grateful. If they ask me back, man, would that be extra special. I’d really love to do it.’
Vacation Friends hits Star on Disney+ on August 27.
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