The Rock has quite a lot cooking at the moment. In addition to recently wrapping on the seventh installment of the Fast and the Furious franchise, he’s got an epic starring vehicle in Hercules hitting theaters on Friday, and he’s all but confirmed that he’ll soon be donning the golden cape of Shazam onscreen soon (via TotalFilm). Between the blockbusters, the action-packed period pieces and an upcoming tenure as a superhero, there’s no doubt that Dwayne Johnson is a bona fide box office star. But even though he can bring people into a movie theater, people still seem reluctant to view The Rock as a legitimate actor.
After all, the first time that the public got to know Johnson, he was vamping in the wrestling ring and earning dramatic close-ups with the lift of his eyebrow. When he first began branching out into acting, via goofy action films like The Mummy Returns and The Scorpion King, people were understandably reluctant to accept this giant goofball as a real thespian. But it’s been almost a decade since Johnson left wrestling behind for movie sets, and despite racking up dozens of credits and hit films, he’s still more closely associated with the ring than with Hollywood.
But Johnson is a talented actor. Despite a few early cinematic disasters, he’s steadily delivered entertaining, compelling, layered and even moving performances. He’s charismatic and appealing, both on and off-camera, and his resume of characters is more diverse than you might realize at first glance. He’s got basically everything he would need to become a major movie star, and yet we’re still hesitant to give him that title. We had no problem with Channing Tatum’s transition from dance films and rom-coms or Terry Crews’ growth from an NFL player to one of the funniest character actors in Hollywood. So why can’t we see Johnson in the same light?
Is it because he was so well known as an athlete that we can’t help but associate him with sports (or whatever pro-wrestling qualifies as) rather than movies? Or is it because his first forays into acting were characterized by box office flops and cheesy kid’s movies? Can we just not see the man who made Tooth Fairy as a legitimate actor, despite the numerous successful films he’s made since?
It could be that we, as an audience, need to see Johnson in a completely different light in order for us to really let go of his wrestling past. Matthew McConaughey was just the Southern guy from those bad rom coms until the one-two punch of True Detective and Dallas Buyers Club, and people didn’t start taking Tatum seriously until he teamed up with Stephen Soderbergh for Magic Mike and let his comedic talents shine in the Jump Street flicks. Perhaps Johnson needs to find a more serious project with a prestigious director in order for us to really appreciate his talents. Meanwhile, his next two features, Hercules and San Andreas, are more likely to be perceived as mindless action movies he can add to a long list of blockbusters.
All of this puts a lot of pressure on his potential performance as Shazam. While many of the performers who have taken on superhero roles are highly-acclaimed character actors, like Robert Downey Jr., Christian Bale, or Mark Ruffalo, the genre has a long history of casting people who look the part, even if they can’t quite act it. If the Shazam film doesn’t do well, both Johnson’s athletic background and hit-and-miss film history will likely be blamed for the flop, and it could erase a lot of the goodwill that he’s earned over the years as an actor.
However, if it does well, it could be exactly what Johnson needs in order to be seen as a legitimate actor and movie star. Before he set off after John Connor in The Terminator, Arnold Schwarzenegger was best known for being a body builder, but after that film became a hit, he was regarded as an actor first and foremost (even when he became a politician). Shazam could do the same thing for Johnson, and finally help the public see him as more than just the goofy wrestler with the eyebrow and the catchphrase. Considering DC has had a patchy track record when it comes to superhero films lately and the fact that Shazam isn’t as well-known to the general public as Batman or Superman are, audiences probably won’t have very high expectations for the film, which should make it easier for Johnson to exceed them, and reintroduce himself to the world as an actor.
And if that doesn’t work, there’s always True Detective Season 3, right?
Hollywood comedian Mike Myers became an honorary member of Monty Python on Sunday night (20Jul14) as the veteran funnymen closed their reunion shows in London. The comedy troupe bowed out at the city's O2 Arena after a run of 10 comeback shows, and Austin Powers star Myers made a surprise appearance onstage during the last performance, which was broadcast live on TV and in cinemas.
Myers joined in a sketch with Michael Palin, while British funnyman Eddie Izzard also made a guest appearance.
Other stars in attendance at the final show included Martin Freeman, Harry Shearer and David Walliams.
Rapper Common once forged basketball great Michael Jordan's signature to make money. The Light hitmaker had the prestigious job of serving as a ball boy for the Chicago Bulls when he was growing up in Illinois, and he decided to make extra cash by calling on the sports icon for an autograph to give to a fan.
In an interview on U.S. talk show Watch What Happens Live on Wednesday (16Jul14), Common recalled, "I was 12 years old and it was Michael Jordan's first year (on the team) so it was incredible experience. I was watching him become one of the greatest athletes ever.
"One time some guy asked me to get Michael's autograph. So I told him, 'I'll get you an autograph for $5.' And I went and said, 'Mike, sign this autograph for me.' He said, 'You sign it.'
"So I went and signed it and I took it back and the kid was like, 'Man, this ain't (sic) Mike's autograph!' I spelled Michael wrong. I was just trying to get my $5."
Disgraced sportsman-turned-movie star O.J. Simpson was movie bosses' first choice to play the Terminator in director James Cameron's 1984 sci-fi blockbuster. Celebrating the 30th anniversary of the film as part of an Entertainment Weekly feature, executive Mike Medavoy admits he wanted Simpson to front the film, with Arnold Schwarzenegger as the movie's hero.
Schwarzenegger eventually landed the Terminator role and Michael Biehn was cast as hero Kyle Reese.
Medavoy recalls, "At the time, O.J. Simpson had one of those commercials for Hertz where he jumped over a counter and ran to get a rental car. It was all of that athletic stuff, which I thought the Terminator should have."
But Cameron was far from sold on the idea.
He says, "This was when everybody loved him... He (Simpson) was this likeable, goofy, kind of innocent guy... (but) I wasn't interested in an African-American man chasing around a white girl with a knife."
A decade after the film came out, Simpson's role as a likeable celebrity turned upside down after he was accused of killing his wife and her friend in a jealous rage. Simpson was acquitted of the crime.
He is currently serving time behind bars for his part in an armed raid on a memorabilia dealer's Las Vegas hotel room.
Former child star Danica Mckellar is engaged. The actress, who played Winnie Cooper on beloved U.S. TV series The Wonder Years, is set to tie the knot with her lawyer boyfriend Scott Sveslosky.
McKellar took to Instagram.com on Wednesday (16Jul14) and posted a photo of herself proudly showing off a diamond ring on her left ring finger, along with the caption, "Yep, my amazing boyfriend Scott & I are engaged!!"
This will be the second marriage for both McKellar and Sveslosky, who each have young sons from their previous relationships.
McKellar, who divorced Mike Verta last year (13), tells People magazine, "Scott and I are thrilled. We are looking forward to merging our families," revealing they plan to exchange vows later this year (14).
British pop star Tulisa Contostavlos brokered a $1,360 (£800) cocaine deal for an undercover reporter after becoming convinced he was a movie producer who was lining her up for a major Hollywood role opposite Leonardo DiCaprio, a court has heard.
The former N-Dubz singer is on trial for allegedly arranging for a drug-dealing pal to sell half an ounce of the illegal drug to a man she believed was a leading film studio boss.
However, he was really notorious U.K. undercover journalist Mazher Mahmood, and Contostavlos was subsequently charged by cops after the story appeared in The Sun on Sunday newspaper.
At the opening of her trial at London's Southwark Crown Court on Wednesday (16Jul14), the jury was told Contostavlos was once a member of a street gang which sold crack cocaine. She met with Mahmood - who was using the cover name 'Samir Khan' - at swanky hotels in Las Vegas and London last year (13) after he told her agent he could land her a role in a "big production" alongside Titanic star DiCaprio.
Prosecutor Timothy Cray told the court, "It is clear the defendant was very keen to break into films and she and her manager swallowed the story completely. She was told that she would be more suitable for the film than Keira Knightley or Kate Winslet."
The jury heard that the pop star, who was also a judge and mentor on the U.K.'s The X Factor for two seasons, later agreed to sell Mahmood cocaine and used the term "white sweets" as code for the drug in text messages.
She allegedly arranged for her pal, rapper Mike Coombs, to supply the drug to the reporter in a room at London's Dorchester hotel in May, 2013.
The prosecutor added, "We say that the defendant was instrumental in arranging the supply of cocaine carried out in the Dorchester... Although the defendant had not negotiated the price or the amount, she had done all she could to make a supply of cocaine happen and the charge reflects her involvement in the supply of the drug."
Contostavlos, of Friern Barnet, north London, denies being concerned in the supply of cocaine. The trial continues.
"(They're) like a genetic explosion and there might not be enough diversity in the gene pool, because they are just too good looking. But ya know, God bless her, she's amazing and if he's nice to her, I am all for it." Sofia Vergara's Modern Family co-star Julie Bowen approves of the Colombian beauty's new romance with Magic Mike hunk Joe Manganiello.
Zara Phillips' rugby star husband Mike Tindall has announced his retirement from the sport. The player, who was part of England's World Cup-winning team in 2003, married Queen Elizabeth II's granddaughter in 2011 and they became first-time parents earlier this year (14).
Actress Sofia Vergara celebrated her 42nd birthday on Thursday (10Jul14) with her new beau, Magic Mike hunk Joe Manganiello, by her side as they dined with her family and friends at top California restaurant Nobu Malibu. The new couple was snapped cuddling up to one another for a photo as the Modern Family beauty prepared to blow out the candles on her chocolate cake.
A rapper pal of British pop star Tulisa Contostavlos has pleaded guilty to supplying cocaine to an undercover journalist, on the eve of the pair's trial. The former N-Dubz star is accused of brokering a deal for half an ounce of the drug by arranging a meeting between the reporter and Michael Coombs, who is known professionally as Mike GLC, in May last year (13).
Contostavlos denies the charge, but at the start of their joint trial in London on Monday (14Jul14), Coombs changed his plea and admitted being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs.
He will be sentenced at the end of Contostavlos' trial, which is due to open before a jury on Tuesday (15Jul14).
The pop star, of Friern Barnet, north London, denies being concerned in the supply of cocaine.