John Morrison (or John Hennigan, or Johnny Mundo) has been keeping extremely busy for the past couple of years. In addition to being one of the cornerstones of Lucha Underground and wrestling all over the world, including a ton of time spent in Mexico, he’s kept his acting career going. And now, with the upcoming release of his brainchild Boone: The Bounty Hunter, he can add “filmmaker” to his resume.
At the Los Angeles premiere of Boone on Monday, Morrison took the time to talk to us about the movie, and the experience of making it.
With Spandex: Tell me about Boone: The Bounty Hunter. We premiered the trailer for you, but tell us about how the movie came about and what we can expect from it?
John Morrison: Man, this has been a long road to get here. Boone: The Bounty Hunter is about a reality show bounty hunter who uses a combination of parkour, pro wrestling, and ’80s-style action moves to Boone celebrities like Kevin Sorbo. The original idea was, I was trying to think of a reason to have a movie with parkour where instead of running away, the dude that does the parkour is chasing people. Partly because “The Prince of Parkour” is one of my gimmicks, and in WWE I was using a lot of parkour moves.
I felt like this big bounty hunter dude who uses parkour to chase people just seemed like a funny concept, and then that was the kernel that became Boone: The Bounty Hunter. This goofy dude who does parkour and free running and flashy moves and sentons and corkscrew moonsaults to take down celebrities.
Then the stakes get raised when his show’s getting canceled, and we’ve got this goofy bounty hunter who goes to Mexico to go after a real criminal. Now, his crew is in real danger and he has to use his skills, parkour, pro wrestling, and brawler-style MMA to get out of real trouble and needs to make a decision between saving his show and his friends.
Perfect. Can you tell us a little bit about what the shoot was like, how many days did you have? And I don’t know if you want to divulge what kind of budget you guys were working with.
Without naming specifics, this is a low-budget movie. We had only 15 days of principal photography. We had three days of pick-ups, and then I would say an additional 10 days of really shoestring pick-ups.
Just guerrilla style.
Oh, yeah. Some of these days, me, one of the other producers, Brady Romberg — the street crew — me, him, Josh Hill, Ryan [Houchin] … we’d go out with a camera and crash pad, and it was me doing parkour on rooftops, or me falling down a hill. I think that’s why a lot of the action scenes in this movie really pop, because of the ability we had to go back after the fact and really try to get the type of action we were looking for — without having a $25,000 day where you’ve got a 70 person crew, and trailers, and a water truck, and a fire marshal, and permits.
You don’t have time on a low-budget movie to get those action shots. Usually, you just run out of time.
A lot of people when they leave WWE, when they leave wrestling, are more and more starting to go into acting now. It even starts at WWE Studios sometimes. This is the first time that I’m really aware of, at least on such a high level, that something is a wrestler’s brainchild that comes to life as a movie. Do you feel like a trailblazer in that way at all?
Man, you said it, so sure. [laughs] “Trailblazer” sounds cool. I feel like my background is suiting to this. I was a film major at UC Davis before I started wrestling. I graduated with a degree in film. I made a bunch of action shorts while I was at Davis. I wrote, directed, starred, and produced a low-budget feature in my senior year at Davis which was horrible.
Actually, I’m glad I did that because I learned why it’s important to have separate jobs, and why it’s important to not try to do everything, which is why we ended up with such a talented crew on this movie. This is something that I’ve been dreaming of for a long time. I grew up on action movies and pro wrestling. I feel like [a] pro wrestling [career], I [already] made that happen. Action movies — specifically action comedies — is something that I’m really excited about getting more and more into in the future.
You’re so busy these days. You’re in Mexico all the time. You’re wrestling all over. How often do you get a chance to actually practice parkour?
I try to make a point of getting out to Tempest, or Jam, or a gymnastics gym at least once a week. On a good week if I’m in town, I get out twice. I live with a really good group of stunt guys and pro wrestlers right now. We have ring in the back yard. We have a whole bunch of … We got fake prop guns and swords … Even if I can’t make it to Tempest, you can still do a lot of crazy training with the ring, and the ropes, and the mats in the backyard.
Boone: The Bounty Hunter comes out on VOD on May 9 and will be released on DVD on June 6.