In Hollywood, where hype so often seems to be the norm, pro wrestler “Stone Cold” Steve Austin’s frank assessment of his own performance in his debut movie is, if nothing else, refreshing.
“I didn’t stink the place up,” Austin told Reuters about his role in his new big-screen action adventure “The Condemned,” which opened on Friday. “I think I have a feel for it, and I think I have some ability.”
Austin, 42, has built a global fan base on the back of his brawling, obscenity-laced, bad-boy image in the ring. But about three years ago, he packed his bags and moved to Los Angeles from his home in Texas.
He followed the likes of Hulk Hogan and The Rock, two other big-name grapplers who parlayed their charismatic wrestling personas into movie acting. In “The Condemned,” Austin portrays a character who uses his fists to do his talking.
“It wasn’t a stretch because it’s closer to my regular persona,” he said. “As long as I’ve been in the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment), my fans have only seen me as Stone Cold Steve Austin.
“I’m glad people will get a chance to see I can be a lot more than someone who uses a lot of four-letter words, drinks a lot of beer, flips people off and beats people up,” he added.
His fans will be relieved to know he still kicks a lot of butt. But like many a good, tight-lipped action hero before him — Stone Cold Steve said that as a boy he admired the likes of John Wayne and Charles Bronson — his character, Jack Conrad, is really a good guy caught in a bad situation.
Reality TV ‘Rambo’Plucked from a Latin American jail where he was wrongly imprisoned for murder, Conrad is dropped with nine other convicted murderers on a remote island where they must battle each other to the death.
An unscrupulous television executive has rigged the island with hundreds of cameras to videotape the killings, and he and his crew are streaming the battle royal on the Internet.
In Hollywood, where movie executives often hawk their ideas as a blend of previous movies or television shows, “The Condemned” could be seen as a combination of “Rambo” and reality TV’s “Survivor.”
Austin, who is 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighs 250 pounds, played college football in Texas and afterward worked as a manual laborer. That changed when he started watching pro wrestlers and decided, “I can do that.”
So he began a roughly 15-year career that vaulted him to professional wrestling’s championship level. Now, looking for a less physically demanding way to make a living, he said becoming a movie action hero was another “natural step.”
Hollywood critics have often wondered whether gun-toting screen heroes encourage real-life violence in society, a question that seems even more relevant in the wake of the recent deadly shooting rampage at Virginia Tech University.
Austin said “Condemned” was filmed well before the college massacre, and the movie’s R-rating bars anyone under age 17 from seeing it without an accompanying adult in the United States.
His fans want to see hard-core action, and he is going to work to please them, he said, adding that in the end the movie offers a message about the destructive nature of greed.
Austin said “Condemned” is the first film of a three-picture deal, and he expects more to come.
“I want to make 50 more movies,” the plain-spoken Texan said. “But I’ve got to have good results at the box office.”