Seven years removed from professional wrestling, Phil Brooks, aka CM Punk, is in a unique position to forge his own path. In the years since he left the squared circle, Brooks has dabbled in MMA, become a published author and taken up spots on the big screen. Thanks to his pro wrestling career, Brooks told Uproxx Sports, he’s gotten to the point where he can be selective — if he doesn’t want to work with someone in a movie, on television, or in broadcasting, he doesn’t have to.
“I’m really lucky that I get to cherry pick the projects that I work on,” Brooks said. “I’m also fortunate that the people that want to put me in stuff also happen to be great people. Just like Travis (Stevens).”
Brooks’ working relationship with Stevens began when he starred in Girl on the Third Floor in 2019, and he’s followed that up by joining the cast of Jakob’s Wife, which hits select theaters, on demand and is available digitally on April 16.
“I love and adore Travis so much that I truly believe in everything he does. He could call me sight unseen and say, ‘Hey, I’m shooting something in two weeks and I have a role for you.’ I would say, ‘great,’ without even reading the script,” Brooks said. “I read the script (for Jakob’s Wife) and was like, man, this script is so good because I truly, truly love this movie. He’s a brilliant mind, and fans should know when his name is attached to a project, it’s going to be great and different. It was a pleasure getting to work with Travis again, but also Bonnie Aarons, Larry Fessenden, Barbara Crampton, the list goes on. The cast, everybody on this film is amazing.”
The story of Jakob’s Wife follows Anne (Barbara Crampton), who is married to a small-town minister and feels like her life and marriage have been shrinking over the past 30 years. After a chance encounter with “The Master,” (Bonnie Aarons) she discovers a new sense of power and an appetite to live bigger and bolder than before. As Anne is increasingly torn between her new existence and her life before, the body count grows and Jakob (Larry Fessenden) realizes he will have to fight for the wife he took for granted. The story also weaves in parallels between modern-day life, with women’s empowerment anecdotes mixed with everything you love about a vampire movie.
“I think that’s the brilliance of horror movies, is that they can kind of Trojan horse you,” Brooks said. “ You go into this thinking it’s a vampire movie. And then you find out very, very quickly in Jakob’s Wife that this is really a movie about a married couple, where it’s supposed to be this partnership and the female in the partnership maybe feels like she’s been in the shadow of the male for X amount of years. And it’s really about communication, like when she speaks, is he listening to her? And this newfound power that she has is a great representation of a woman in her mid-40’s, kind of rediscovering things that she maybe let go of, things that she loved that she let go of to benefit the partnership and marriage. I don’t want to give too much away, but this is not your typical vampire movie. It also is a great vampire movie because it’s got everything you want. It’s got rats, it’s got blood, it’s got fangs.”
For Brooks, the coming year is packed with a slew of announcements. After Jakob’s Wife, he acknowledged there’s plenty of news to be announced and released, including his inclusion in Heels, a wrestling-based TV show set to debut in August on Starz. Filming for the professional wrestling show is about as close as Brooks has gotten to watching what’s happening the squared circle.
“Most of the wrestling that I keep up on, or the things that I know about is strictly from social media,” Brooks said. “I haven’t watched a television show in a while. I would have to watch when I was working Backstage with Fox, to have an opinion on stuff. But since I haven’t been doing that, I haven’t been watching honestly.”
As far as Brooks’ interest in stepping back inside the ring, the right situation, right amount of money and the right door would have to be presented to him with the right people to work with.
“I think the right combination could maybe be figured out, but it’s also not for me to figure out. It’s not my world anymore,” Brooks said. “I’m certainly not Hulk Hogan, where I’m going to show up somewhere and like, ‘no, this is how it’s going to be.’ The wrestling world doesn’t necessarily need CM Punk and that’s absolutely fine. Everyone seems to be doing great. I don’t know, it’s like flavors of ice cream. I walk into an ice cream shop one time and I’m like, ‘Oh, that seems like a good flavor. Give me two scoops of that.’ It’s just gotta be the right time, right place, right situation.”
On what “flavor of ice cream” Brooks would be interested — he’s said this in the past, but admits it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to happen — when he looks at the landscape of wrestling, there’s more interesting potential opponents in AEW that he would like to wrestle than WWE.
“From a creative mind standpoint, stepping back and looking at the landscape of everything, there are people in WWE that I have wrestled before that maybe, in a certain situation could be interesting,” Brooks said. “There’s also the business side of things. What’s the biggest possible match for CM Punk? I think there’s Kenny Omega on the one side. And, you know, unfortunately, ironically enough, for me to go back to WWE, who’s the biggest match for me? It’s probably Triple H. That’s ironic because it’s nothing I’m interested in. It’s just what it is. Am I going to be a businessman and say that’s the match, that’s the big-money match? Well, it’s not my money, so it’s not for me to say.”
Brooks has never been shy on speaking his opinion. While that may have rubbed others the wrong way in his past experiences, no matter what happens with his career in entertainment, he’s happy to now have the freedom to say what he wants, when he wants.
“I think those that have a voice and use it to the best of their ability, I’ll always back and I’ll always commend that,” Brooks said. “There’s nothing worse than in 2021 for anyone to be told, ‘Shut up and XYZ,’ whether it’s dribble, wrestle, stick to sports or yada yada. There’s way more important stuff than TV, movies, hockey, wrestling, football, baseball, whatever. If you’re more upset that a baseball game got cancelled than you are the reason it got cancelled, then you may be part of the problem. I think that anybody that has a platform and speaks truth to power without fear of consequences, I think is a brave person. A lot more could be done, but I’m always a guy that says the things I truly feel in my heart. It’s gotten me punished, in trouble, but I’m also somebody who recognizes that I have a privilege. And that privilege can be used to fight for something that’s bigger than all of us.
“Like, I’m a white guy, right? And I think a lot of problems that are being discussed right now are problems that black, brown, female people experience on a daily basis. If I could shed a little bit of light on that for them, great. But I am in no way, shape or form trying to take up the cause for likes and clicks on a social media website. It’s always the right time to do that right thing. If me speaking out helps other people recognize that they too have a voice and they can speak out, that’s all the better. But I’m a privileged white dude who sees things and experiences things through my Puerto Rican wife. The best way to describe what privilege really is, is nothing has been given to me, it’s just a lack of things being taken away from me because of my skin color or gender that other people have had to go through.”