My heart was in live entertainment business: John Cena on starring in 'Transformers' spin-off
Bumblebee, a bright yellow petite Volkswagen Beetle would have been another sight to behold had John Cena been cast as the affable autobot's "spare tyre", a role the professional wrestler-actor says he would have accepted in a heartbeat.
But director Travis Knight had something bigger planned for the actor.
Cena plays Lieutenant Jack Burns, a hardened military officer who has a grudge against the Transformers. The film is fronted by Hailee Steinfeld, who plays Charlie Wilson, a headstrong vulnerable teenager who befriends Bumblebee.
The actor said the script of the film, penned by Christina Hodson, was like an unputdownable book and he was eager to feature in the film.
"I read it and immediately it was like the joke's on him and him (Knight and producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura). I could have played Bumblebee's spare tyre.
"I just wanted to be in the movie. And in the initial conversation with Travis we were able to converse about the passion we both had for the movies," Cena told PTI when asked about his constant attempt to break his established image.
The WWE star, who was here to promote the film, said he wants to be a part of good projects
He said despite initial failures in the movie business, the passion for storytelling kept him going back for more.
"I just want to do good stuff. And before I was thrown into a lot of action movies 'coz it was a good business model. It wasn't a good business model 'coz those movies were failures. My heart was in the live entertainment business. And then after years in live entertainment business, I asked myself, 'Why do I keep going back?'
"It wasn't the falls, it's the ability to tell stories. So, I was grateful and lucky enough to get like another chance in the movies. And I gravitated towards the good stuff... I read it and felt like 'You know what, I'm gonna do this.'"
Cena, 41, said Amy Schumer's romcom "Trainwreck" (2015) was a turning point in his career.
"It was 'Trainwreck'. And after that I was lucky enough to ride away. It was an opportunity for me, they were all small stuff, small parts. But like 'Whoa! This is a good read. I'll do this'. And then 'Bumblebee' came by," he said.
The actor said he does not know what his next role would be, maybe he would play "a nerd".
He said he does not view the parts he has played - be it his Hollywood debut "The Marine", critically-acclaimed "Blockers" or the first "Transformers" spin-off, "Bumblebee". He sees them as a good read.
"Maybe, I don't know. I know that I'm gonna love when I read it. Everyone has got their process but for me it is super important...
"To me, it's all about doing what you love and loving what you do. I'm trying to take some chances. But I don't view them as chances because (the scripts are like books that) I can't put down," he said.
Cena said he is ready to rap with the audience and critics till they are convinced to give his films another go, even when they first don't like them.
"Making movies is long process. Travis said it took us two-and-a-half years with 'Bumblebee'. But you're not done when you're done. You have to go out and see it," he said.
"So if you don't like it and you do it for the business of it all and I've been there, it makes this stuff tough. But when you really do like it, even when we are not playing with great stuff, because you guys like it. But even if you don't, I'll rap with you all day and hopefully you'll wind up going 'Hmm maybe I was wrong, I'm gonna check it out again'," he quipped.
In a press conference, the actor hoped "Bumblebee" becomes a tremendous global success and something that is not limited to the United States or China - two major markets for Hollywood franchise films.
"I think this is a story that resonates with all audiences and due to the fact that 'Bumblebee' can't speak, a lot of it transcends languages and it will be translated," he said.
The film also features Jorge Lendeborg Jr, John Ortiz, Jason Drucker, and Pamela Adlon.
Releasing on January 4, 2019, Bumblebee - A Paramount Pictures movie will be exclusively distributed in India by Viacom18 Motion Pictures.
(With inputs from agencies.)