After spending many years working to establish himself as one of the most charismatic blockbuster leads working in the industry, Dwayne Johnson’s big breakthrough year finally came in 2013. Starring in five separate films - Snitch, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Empire State, Pain & Gain and Fast & Furious 6 - the actor was the biggest box office star of last year, and he has never been more popular than he is right now. Sadly, this year will see him starring in far fewer films, but this summer will deliver what could be his biggest role yet, starring as the titular lead in Brett Ratner’s Hercules.
In the film, the wrestler-turned-actor stars as the Greek hero in the years following his epic 12 labors of legend. Teaming up with a band of travelers, he finds himself working as a mercenary sailing from port to port to kill people for money, but his mettle is truly tested when he agrees to help a king and his daughter take down a vicious warlord.
Of course, we’ve seen many different versions of Hercules over the years, from the 1983 movie with Lou Ferrigno to the 90s television series starring Kevin Sorbo, so what makes this version so different? As part of the on-going CinemaCon expo in Las Vegas, yesterday morning I was invited along with a small group of other journalists to sit down for a special roundtable discussion with Johnson to talk about his latest film. So what did I discover? Read on to find out!
Hercules Is The Son Of A God… But It’s A Lineage He RejectsOf all the classic Greek myths, the tale of Hercules is perhaps the best known. Born a demigod as the son of Zeus and a mortal named Alcmene, the hero is a legend for his tremendous strength and his successful passing of the 12 Labors (which basically involved killing, fighting and/or capturing some really bad beasties). It’s been somewhat unclear how the new Brett Ratner movie would be handing these more fantastical elements, as reports have suggested that the film would be more grounded in reality than myth, but the fact is that the movie is staying true in many respects to the tale we know and love.
While Hercules will have what Johnson described during our interview as a more "balanced" approach (paying tribute to the lore while also introducing a new spin), the key elements to the story and the character will still be present – especially his familial connection to the folks living up on Mount Olympus. The trick to the whole thing is how the hero actually feels about his own lineage and legacy.
"When we see [Hercules] and he's introduced in this story, he doesn't care about his faith, and he doesn't care about who he is, who everyone claims him to be," the actor told us. "It doesn't matter to him, because he doesn't have his family… The goal was to strike a nice balance between a unique twist on the story, and yet at the same time make sure that we still paid homage to the mythology of Hercules."