One Big Reason Dwayne Johnson Almost Quit Rampage

Rampage the monkey almost dies

Last weekend, the latest video game adaptation, Rampage, debuted in theaters to a solid box office. The Rampage video game was an unlikely candidate for adaptation, while well-known it hasn't been around in years and it doesn't feature a particularly cinematic story. However, whenever Dwayne Johnson is involved, that's worth paying attention to. The blockbuster star's fond memories of the video game saw him come aboard the project, elevating the movie's profile more than anything else could. Still, the movie apparently almost didn't happen. The actor almost quit Rampage when the original script called for George the gorilla to die at the end. Dwayne Johnson explained what happened, saying:

So the script comes in, and I'm reading it. And at the end of it -- George dies! I'm like, 'No. Did I miss something? George can't be dead.' But I go back, and yeah. I don't like a sad ending. Life brings that shit -- I don't want it in my movies. When the credits roll, I want to feel great... We had a big meeting where they gave me all the reasons they thought George should die. He sacrifices himself saving the world. Killing these animals who had ill intentions to harm mankind. He sacrifices himself like a brave soldier. OK. But this is a movie! There's a crocodile the size of a football stadium -- we're not making Saving Private Ryan.

This was apparently a huge sticking point for Dwayne Johnson, so much so that he said he was willing to walk away from the film. I can certainly see why the original script called for George to die. The relationship between George and Davis is the emotional core of the movie, so having George die at the end in a heroic sacrifice would have delivered on that emotion. But as Dwayne Johnson says, this isn't Saving Private Ryan. Rampage is exactly what you think it is: a big, dumb, fun, action movie and that's OK.

A movie as ridiculous as Rampage doesn't need to have some somber ending where a well-liked animal dies. That won't elevate it to high art or make it anything other than what it is. Real life is hard and blockbusters are meant to be escapist fantasy, and that's why they generally have happy endings. This isn't Marley & Me or Turner & Hooch, there's no need for George to really die. Dwayne Johnson also elaborated to Rolling Stone about why he doesn't want one of his movies specifically to end like that, saying:

My problem is I have a relationship with an audience around the world. For years I've built a trust with them that they're gonna come to my movies and feel good. So every once in a while, you have to drop this card, which is: You're gonna have to find another actor. We need to figure something out, otherwise I'm not gonna do the movie.

This is an interesting point that some might say limits what kind of films Dwayne Johnson can be in or the stories he can tell, confining him only to feel-good action movies. However, the actor is clearly aware of what he will and won't do, and he seems to be doing pretty alright for himself by sticking to fun, popcorn blockbusters. Over the years, Dwayne Johnson has built his brand on these types of movies so you can see how he might not want to betray that and send audiences out of one of his films in a downer mood. Seeing an animal friend die would certainly have done that and for a movie like this, it was unnecessary.

WARNING: Spoilers to follow for the actual ending of Rampage.

If you've seen Rampage, you know that Dwayne Johnson got his way and George isn't killed at the end. After the final battle, George looks to have died, in a heroic sacrifice as originally intended. However, George is just yanking Davis' chain and he is alive. This ending allowed audiences to see the emotion in Dwayne Johnson's character at the perspective loss of George without needing to actually follow through with it. So audiences left theaters happy with their expectations of what a Dwayne Johnson movie should be intact.

Rampage is in theaters now, and next up is Skyscraper. For anyone hoping to see The Rock not make that jump in the trailer for the upcoming blockbuster Skyscraper, you're about to be sorely disappointed. Skyscraper should deliver more feel-good fun when it hits theaters on July 13th. Check out our guide to see all of The Rock Movies heading to theaters soon.

Nick Evans

Nick grew up in Maryland has degrees in Film Studies and Communications. His life goal is to walk the earth, meet people and get into adventures. He’s also still looking for The Adventures of Pete and Pete season 3 on DVD if anyone has a lead.