Dwayne Johnson may have retired his wrestling name, The Rock, but he's still doing battle in the movies. He brought his upcoming family adventure, Race to Witch Mountain, to San Diego Comic Con to put it up against all the other big studio movies showing early footage to fans. This follow-up to the Disney series started with 1975's Escape to Witch Mountain casts Johnson as a Las Vegas cab driver protecting two alien teens from bad guys who would force them to use their special powers for evil.
Hollywood.com: So why remake the Witch Mountain movies?
Very, very easy decision. Loved the script and was a big fan of the original. My little girl who's six loves the original so it was a very easy decision to make. I love [director] Andy [Fickman], we worked together on The Game Plan and I didn't want to pass it up. Carla [Gugino] came on board, we had a great actress on board with a company that I think embodies a lot of wonderful elements, especially with a movie like this where you can combine and infuse great action with great adventure, great family values, great humor, contemporary action, contemporary humor and with a touch of fantasy too.
HW: How much trouble is it to protect these kids?
It's a lot of trouble. I think immediately, within 10 minutes, as soon as they get in my cab, everything goes to hell in a handbag. The race begins actually. With the action, Andy wanted to create action that resonated with people and that we didn't rely on CGI effects in terms of creating the CGI villain, CGI monster. So we had a great monster which is really badass and real. I think a lot of times that, particularly with our movie, it shows. It has that texture of reality. When I get hit, I get punched in the face and the thing punches me and I fly across the room, not only does it hurt because Andy's got me on wires…but therein lies a great challenge. We talk about action, how can we compete, if you will. we go.
HW: Do you think directors go too far with CGI these days?
No, easy. I don't feel it goes too far. There are great movies out there where CGI has done great work with the villains in the movies and the monsters, but there is something appealing about having a real monster when you're fighting something that's real.
HW: Are you just a regular guy in this movie or do you suddenly become a great action hero?
No, he doesn't suddenly become a great action hero. That's a good question. I think he's struggled. He's struggled to stay on the right path for a long time, frankly not very happy with his life. A lot of great movies, it's always about the collisions of worlds that happen, whether it's great comedies or action comedies, whatever it is. In this it's a phenomenal collision that takes place who's your everyday guy and he gets involved with these two teenagers who have these supernatural powers. I think throughout the course of the story, he learns to trust them and wants to help them.
HW: How were the young actors to work with?
They were really great to work with. I always find that making movies is a lot of fun but it's a lot of hard work too. Acting is difficult to do on many levels and you're so impressed when you can find teenagers like that who have a tremendous amount of capacity to do what they're doing and to be that involved and be that present in the characters. Then to see the same vision as Andy and the rest of us and to see that wide scope, for them to have that vision and then for them to still embrace being teenagers and having fun which, I thought was great.
HW: Do you believe in aliens?
Well, how come you can't ask me that with a straight face? Of course I do, yeah. I think it'd be extremely arrogant to think that we're the only ones. I firmly do and I'm always fascinated and intrigued. Spending three or four months with Andy as all of us did in preproduction and his love and his passion, he had all these videos and books. He just literally took us on this course. It was amazing.
HW: What do you look for in an action film?
In terms of action? Well, I gotta say that there are two movies in particular I think that raised the bar in terms of the action. The last Bourne movie, the Bourne series by the way, the last Casino Royale movie too for example really raised the bar in action, contemporary action, how it's shot in a very energetic way but still very real way. I think it resonates with a lot of people.
HW: Have you had any strange fan encounters at Comic Con?
Nothing strange. I've been able to come to conventions for a long time now and with Comic Con being the biggest and one that carries the most passion, nothing strange. We were talking about earlier when we were on the plane coming over here, what sets Comic Con apart from all the other conventions. Why this one? It all came down to passion. It's not a stuffy convention. It's literally, people travel thousands of miles, hundreds of thousands of people, come here and they're passionate about movies and passionate about comic books and passionate about whether they're wearing something or whether trying to be something or whether they want to meet somebody but it's all about passion so I can always appreciate that. Plus I can appreciate all the great costumes that I see. I've never seen so many Jokers in my life. It's just been great.
Race to Witch Mountain opens in theaters March 13, 2009