Meeting the wrestler formally known as Stone Cold Steve Austin feels like being back at school again, waiting outside the headmaster’s office to be summoned in to talk.
Except we don’t remember our headmaster having the ability to knock our nose to the back of our head with a look. Steve Austin is about our height, but with the muscle mass of a bungalow attached to each arm. Shaking his hand, it soon becomes apparent how brittle we are compared.
Instantly his southern accent and smile are disarming. He has constant stories of the movie biz, his wrestling career as the infamous ‘Stone Cold’ and seems genuinely excited to be working with some top actors at the moment. So we gave Steve a right good grilling…
Hecklerspray: The tagline for Damage is ‘Pain has a new name’ – will future generations hurt themselves and scream ‘Ahhhh, I’m in soooo much Steve Austin?’
SA: Steve Austin: (Laughing) Stranger things have been said!…That has kinda got a good ring to it. I like that! We’re going to hire you.
HS: I am available for PR.
SA: I can live with that! There have been drinking games invented after me. I’ve heard people watch my DVDs as Stone Cold and take a shot every time I say ‘Hell’ or a swear word! You’d get pretty messed up watching the Stone Cold DVD and listening to my language!
HS: Do you feel like Damage will appeal to fans of your wrestling career?
SA: I think they’ll like it! I think they’ll also like it because it is not just a fight movie – there is a dramatic aspect to it. I’m a big fan of violence, but not gratuitous violence. The violence is a means to an end in the movie and we are telling a story. As me in this movie as John Brickner, who just came out of prison for five years for killing a guy I just thought that was a cloud that hung over the life of John in that movie, and that is the way I played it. In trying to redeem myself, I’m getting involved in a game I don’t want to be in! It puts me in a predicament in what is breaking my parole – even though my parole office doesn’t care – and the potential to kill another man, which,I’m damn sure I don’t want to do. I don’t want to be in those shoes but I am.
I think that the fights will satisfy the people, because they are good ones. But the story – hey – it ain’t Gone with the Wind and it’s probably not gonna win an Oscar, but it is a damn good movie that I am proud of and I think Steve Austin fans will like it.
HS: I think what might surprise them as well is that you inject some comedy into it.
SA: We didn’t want to go over the top with that, but there are moments in there. You have to let the audience up a bit, a bit of humour in there to let you take a breath of fresh air!
HS: Was there a type of film you wanted to pay homage to with Damage? What films do you love?
SA: Jeez! Hard Times, The Mechanic, Bullitt, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, Sylvester Stallone stuff! Paul Newman, Cool Hand Luke, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – cool movies like that! Making movies like that, which aren’t really hard-core action movies but just cool movies, is an area I want to get into.
HS: Were the action scenes physically exhausting to film? How much of the stunt work did you do yourself?
SA: All of the fights…I think I did everything! When we were fighting in front of the crowds, we were fighting in silence. Then I told the director ‘Hey man, can we let them yell?’ and when they started yelling my adrenaline shot up! It was almost like being in a mini ring! Now we had a little bit of feedback and it made the action better because we were getting that response. That was a fun thing to do when working on the fight scenes.
It was pretty cold on set and in the one scene where I roll into the vat of oil, but it was a substitute, so it was so cold that every time that me and the guy who played Timmons would hit and block a punch our skin would stick together and when we pulled away it would take a layer of skin! I was like that for nine hours! And the make-up girl kept putting more and more on me. I remember everyone kept saying “Man, you are gonna enjoy that hot shower when you get done”, they were telling me that all day. I remember going to my trailer and they told me “We made sure you’ve got plenty of hot water”. I went to my trailer…cold water! They sent over a bunch of warm towels and I just towelled up in my trailer and rode home in my underwear and a bathrobe. Of course, wouldn’t you know it, they have got a sobriety check around the corner, so the cop pulls us over and I’m sitting there with a robe that is too small and my underwear!
HS: Did he recognise you?
SA: He didn’t even look at me! (Laughs) I was a little disappointed!
HS: You work with an impressive cast and crew on the movie – from Frank Hannah, writer of The Cooler and Walton Goggins from The Shield – being relatively new to movies, was it a great experience being surrounded by all these people?
SA: Absolutely, because you want to be surrounded by the best people you can be. If I am working with someone of my talent I can be as good as I can be. If I’m working with someone like Walton, who is a very good actor, I can raise my game. That puts me in my comfort rather than working on someone on my level. Same on my last movie I just filmed with Adam Beach (on The Stranger), a great actor, which, raises my game.
HS: Coming up, you have The Expendables with Sylvester Stallone, Jet Li and Jason Statham. It is hotly anticipated – what can we expect?
SA: You can expect a lot of action, a lot of great fights, a lot of bullets and a lot of explosions. I think its going to be the coolest movie of 2010! I’m looking forward to seeing it myself. We had a blast making it and I had a blast working with all that star power that is in it.
HS: It’s not like there is any let up with the star power either, everyone is on the same billing.
SA: It was a who’s who of action movie stars. I was new to action but I was really well known as ‘Stone Cold Steve Austin’. So you’ve got all these action guys and you throw Eric Roberts into the mix who is a great, great actor.
HS: What type of movies would you like to explore in the future? Can we assume you’re not going to try and follow Hulk Hogan’s footsteps and make a Mr. Nanny?
SA: You are 100% correct in making that assumption! I wanna do cool movies like the ones I listed before, like the old Bronson, McQueen and Mark Walberg makes some cool movies. Just things that make good sense, I wanna have fun, be challenged and grow as an actor!
Steve Austin stars in Damage which is available to buy on DVD and Blu-ray now. Read our review here and check out the trailer below!