There are a few things to establish before we dive into this interview:
1. To prep for this interview, I watched the third and fourth Marine films back to back.
2. No, 20th Century Fox did not pay me to do this. I watched all on my own.
3. They wouldn’t have to because The Marine 4 is great.
Now, of course, it won’t be winning awards anytime soon (categories like Best Use of a Human Shield don’t exists at the Oscars), but if you want cheesy fun, The Miz playing a good guy with that smug face that always serves him best as a heel, and Summer Rae wielding a machine gun and giving zero f*cks about anything but beating your ass into the ground, well… come on, you know that last one is more than good enough.
The Marine 4: Moving Target follows Mike Mizanin (The Miz)’s character from the previous film as he starts his first job fresh out of the Marines. Assigned to protect a whistle-blower aiming to take down a corrupt defense contractor, he has to face off against a team of mercenaries and a traitor within his own team trying to stop him at every turn. WWE Diva Summer Rae plays a quiet, but deadly sniper, just as proficient with a machine gun as she is with a withering look.
Seriously, look at this “are you kidding me?” face:
I went all the way to New York to sit down with The Miz and Summer Rae to find out just how much prep they had to do to for their roles, how much film action differs from in-ring action, and, of course, who could win between the two in a battle of their submission finishers:
Danielle Matheson: So, I guess starting with the Raw segment with Damien Sandow. You had your… back to heel turn?
Summer Rae: Mmm, yeah, I guess you just never really know. I just had a crush on a boy, and he was dumb enough to fall for me. When you have your eye on the prize, you can’t let a woman cloud your judgement. So, I taught Sandow a very valuable lesson, and I’m waiting for him to thank me.
Mike Mizanin: The problem with him is that he thought, “Oh, you know, since The Miz is such a big jerk that Summer’s going to lean towards him,” and it’s like, “No, don’t you get it? I spent five weeks with her…”
SR: Making me an A-Lister…
MM: Yeah, look at her. She’s on the cover of the movie. So, this was all a plan.
DM: Yeah, cuz I was going to say, I thought it was kind of suspicious when he kissed you against your will and then you were like, “Oh no, this is what I want. I’m gonna go with this totally lateral move.”
SR: Mhmm, yeah. You know, he’s the one who went for it.
MM: Just suckered him right in.
DM: So, you said you spent five weeks together. What kind of training did you have to do in that time to actually prepare for the movie. I mean, you guys had a pretty badass knife fight…
MM: Yeah! Combat training, weapons training… we had a great crew, and our fight coordinators and stunt coordinators were amazing. With a 20-day shoot and so many fight scenes, you really have to find spare time to do it. You’re doing 12-15 hour shifts, and then driving an hour there and back, so you really don’t have much time to sleep, or much time to do anything. So, we would find time to work with our fight coordinator to make sure our scenes were on point and on target. And not only that, but I’m playing the Marine! I’m playing a guy from the armed forces. Like, I’ve never been, you know, in a warzone where I was putting my life on the line. Those are the real heroes out there. But the least I can do is try to make is as authentic as I possibly can, so we definitely went through weapons training and combat training.
Yeah, like before this I had never really held a gun…
DM: Haha, it’s usually safer that way!
SR: Ha, totally! So, I had to go through this training because, you know, I’m a badass sniper. I can’t look like some chick who just picked up a gun. It has to look like the real thing. But it’s funny that you mentioned the knife. I haven’t talked about it all day!
DM: Oh no, really? That was my favorite part!
MM: She did really well, didn’t she?
DM: Yeah, it was so good!
SR: Thank you! The knife was important because I’m still smaller than him no matter what kind of sniper I am, so the knife gave me leverage. If we both don’t have weapons, of course he’s going to beat me up, so the knife gave me that slight advantage… and the crotch shot, haha.
MM: Luckily I know her, so I was able to be physical with her. Sometimes, when you’re with an actress and you don’t know that person… in this sort of fight scene, you have to be physical, and it has to look good.
SR: Yeah, like we couldn’t just use a plastic gun or a fake gun, so every time I fired it pushed against me, and the bruising was fine, but after two or three shots, he goes, “… Did you bruise?” and I go, “Shut up! Shut up, or they’re gonna bring someone in,” so I just didn’t sell it.
MM: One thing she did not want was a stunt double.
MM: She was throwing herself on the ground, making me look like I was doing it, and I was like I’m not doing it! She just doesn’t want a stunt double, so she’s throwing herself on the ground to prove to you that she doesn’t need one!
SR: One thing, the knife stuff was very humbling. Those Filipino knife guys… like, I don’t know the difference, but the Filipino knife stuff was so hard!
MM: It was so tough!
SR: But I spent a lot of time with them.
DM: Do you think, having gone through wrestling training and working and bumping for so long, do you think that really helped you going into that choreography?
MM: Yes, yes, absolutely. You can memorize stuff a lot easier.
SR: We’re not stiff with each other…
MM: We can memorize stuff a lot easier… A lot of people, when they get in the ring for the first time, they’re very tense because they’re nervous, but you learn to loosen up, and free-flow, and you can breathe better and be smoother, and that’s one thing you can bring to fight scenes in a movie.
SR: I feel like they were kind of impressed that we remembered it so much? They were like (excitedly), “Oh, okay, do it again!” But that’s what we’re used to, memorizing, so, you know, it was fun.
MM: Yeah, like it’s a different kind of punch in wrestling. In movies you don’t make any contact, you kinda just go around, but in WWE, you make contact.
DM: Now, you trained physically. Going into an action movie, did you do anything as far as watching action movies, or what did you draw your inspiration from?
MM: When I did The Marine 3 with Scott Wiper, he was kind of the director who kind of showed me the ins and outs on how to be a leading man, and how to really hone in on things. What he took from me was, you know in WWE, you have to be big, you have to perform for the last guy, but he would show me movies like The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, and he would show me Clint Eastwood, and if you watch him, he doesn’t do anything, and he’s already so captivating, and so intriguing that you want to see everything he’s going to do. He also showed me how natural Paul Newman is, and how, in Cool Hand Luke, he can just be so cool, and it’s natural and organic. He also showed me Steve McQueen in Bullitt, and we would just sit up an watch those, and those were kinda my inspirations, then Bruce Willis in Die Hard. If you watch The Marine 3, that was a slow build. You didn’t see a lot of action until the middle, or more towards the end because there was a lot of character building. In The Marine 4, you already know the character. We’re not building anymore. We go right into it and there’s no holds barred, just action-action-action.
SR: It’s interesting, too, because I watch movies differently after this. Like, even on the plane ride home, we were watching, um… oh, and everything’s filmed in Vancouver, too, so you’re watching another movie and you’re like, “Oh, that’s Vancouver!” But watching now, especially stunt scenes, it’s ruined for me. Like our stunt guys do a lot of other movies, like… there’s that Reese Witherspoon movie where two guys fight over her, I can’t remember the name…
MM: Ohhh, you’re talking about the one with Tom Hardy and Chris Pine…
SR: Yeah, oh, he’s a babe. Our stunt guys did that one, so I watched it and was like, “Oh my gosh. This is so weird.” I can see their choreography through it. So, now I find myself watching the credits like, “Oh, who’s the DOP? Who is this other thing?” Because, before, I didn’t know what that meant, and it’s incredible how much I learned from that. Now, even seeing the subtleties, like on Game of Thrones — I love Game of Thrones — and so, the other day, I watched…
DM: Oh no, I haven’t watched the new episode yet. Don’t tell me!
MM: Ha! That was great! She got really nervous!
SR: It’s okay, it’s still early seasons. I’m still getting caught up!
DM: Oh, good. Okay, that’s fine.
SR: King Joffrey, just died…
MM: Oh, that’s good, so you’re just going to ruin it for other people, then.
SR: Haha, so, in one scene, when someone walked in the room, I didn’t see it at first, but when I rewound it, it was interesting because [one of the characters] put ran his hand over a candle, just like just a bad guy, and he didn’t even feel it, and it was such a subtlety, and such a heel move to just be like, “Psssh, I don’t care.” And I didn’t catch it the first time, so now, I try to watch movies with wide open eyes to catch everything because it’s just… interesting. Like, actors can still connect after 40 years, and it really speaks to their craft, so that’s really cool.
DM: Did you find it to be a difficult adjustment from, as you said, performing to the last man? Like, when Anthony Minghella directed Madame Butterfly for the Metropolitan Opera, he told them, you know, because when you’re performing operatically, you have to sing to the rafters, and everything is these broad, grand movements, and because he wanted more depth of character, he told them to always pretend that there was a tight shot on them, and it brought out all of these subtle but emotionally resonant performances. Did you find when you were acting you had to change the way you performed?
SR: Oh yeah.
MM: Yeah, absolutely. It’s different in WWE because it’s like theatre.
SR: It’s much more dramatic.
MM: Yeah, so that’s one thing that Scott Wiper taught me, and that I kept learning and learning is that you’re just right there, you don’t have to be wide-eyed. You just have to try to be as natural as you possibly can. It seems so easy-
SR: Yeah, I was gonna say!
MM: Everyone thinks they can be an actor until they’re actually put on set and they say “Go,” and you’re like, “Ohhh… uhhh… okay.” It’s a lot different. There’s definitely an art to it. You know, I’ve been doing acting for a while now, and I’ve been taking classes in Los Angeles since I was 21, and I’ve been doing improv, as well, so it’s a little bit of everything.
SR: It’s weird, too, because I feel that WWE Superstars and Divas, we’re over-the-top naturally? Like, I’m just loud and enthusiastic, especially when I see family. I’ll see my mom and be like (throws her arms into the air) “Mom!” and hug her, and it’s just like, “Ugh, calm down.” And then, you see other actors and actresses, and some of them are so introverted, and they’re quiet and soft-spoken, and then they turn it on when they get on camera. So, for me, I thought I was scaling back in just the exercises I would do with a coach before, and they’re like, “Okay, take that, and then turn it 10 times down.” Ten times down from that, I’d be asleep! So, that was extremely hard for me. But challenging! I love the challenge. It was fun to find things you’re not good at.
MM: Well, I’m good at it, so I don’t know what you’re talking about.
SR: Haha, I’m just good at everything! Naw, I’m just kidding.
DM: So, since you’re his enemy in this film, obviously, as you’re constantly trying to kill him, if you take that into the ring, who do you think would win between your Lotus Lock and his Figure Four?
MM: Figure Four.
DM: Are you sure?
SR: It is classic.
DM: I dunno cuz she can go up against Charlotte, and her Figure Four is a little better…
MM: Mmm, not it’s not. That’s cute, the whole “give Divas a chance” thing we’re doing right now, I get it.
SR: I will say, I have longer legs-
MM: I made the Figure Four what it is. I made it popular. I made it relevant.
SR: Oh god…
DM: Well, yeah. Tthat’s true. I mean, I had never even heard of Ric Flair until you did it.
SR: Oh yeah…
SR: To be fair, I think we’d make a good team, maybe not going against each other. People really hate him, and people just kind hate me, even if I’m being super nice.
MM: Yeah, I’m a nice guy!
The best part of this interview (besides The Miz being a little too amused with my panic over Game of Thrones spoilers) is that they were super nice. When you approach two performers who play over-the-top jerks on TV, you never know what kind of person you’ll get behind that. I’ve met plenty of wrestlers I’ve hated in the ring, but loved as people, and been disappointed by more than a few wrestlers who I love in the ring, but wouldn’t mind seeing trip and fall into an active volcano in real life should they happen to come across one. The Miz and Summer Rae were the opposite of that, and not just because they wrapped up the interview by saying glowing things about Canada (that always helps). Just two disarmingly charming, talented, unexpectedly tall people.