Directed by Brad Peyton, the action-adventure smash ‘em up flick Rampage (our review here) follows what happens when the gorilla best friend of primatologist Davis Okoye (Dwayne Johnson), who has been in his care since he rescued the young orphan from poachers, suddenly finds himself an enormous raging creature due to an experiment gone wrong. And to make matters even worse, there are other similarly altered animals who are destroying everything in their path, leaving Davis to team up with geneticist Kate Caldwell (Naomie Harris) to secure an antidote and save the world.
Co-stars Dwayne Johnson, Jeffrey Dean Morgan (who plays Agent Russell) and Joe Manganiello (who plays Burke, the leader of a team of mercenaries sent to stop one of the animals), talked video games, their love of action movies, and what audiences can expect from the film.
QUESTION: You’re no stranger to action movies Dwayne, how does Rampage compare?
DWAYNE JOHNSON: Rampage is a big movie – big in scale, big in action and big in heart. It’s epic in every way. We have not just a gigantic, amazing albino gorilla, we have a super-sized mutated grey wolf and a massive crocodile. We destroy a major city. So, what fans can count on is big, intense action that really pushes the envelope and creates a non-stop ride of fun and chaos.
QUESTION: I heard that your dog, Hobbs, was an inspiration for the emotional connection Davis makes with George. How did that come into play?
DWAYNE JOHNSON: One of the anchors in the movie, amid all the action and destruction, is the bond between Davis and George. I based a lot of that on the relationship I have with my little Frenchie bulldog, Hobbs, aka Bruce Wee. I’ve been an animal lover since childhood, and have had pets since I can remember, but my interplay with Hobbs is special. It’s very rough and tumble, and we have a great time together – like Davis has with George.
It’s important to me to balance the film’s action with heart. With San Andreas, the heart came from my character protecting his family. In Rampage, it’s about Davis saving his best friend, George. That emotional connection makes the film more special.
QUESTION: What do you hope audiences experience when they see Rampage in cinemas?
DWAYNE JOHNSON: They’ll experience the ride of a lifetime. Rampage is going to be an experience like they have never had before. They’ll be thrown into a battle involving not one, not two, but three giant monsters. And then you have a big, brown, bald, tattooed guy running around trying not to get eaten and get his ass kicked, all while trying to save the life of his best friend.
QUESTION: How did the filmmakers pitch Rampage to you Jeffery?
JEFFREY DEAN MORGAN: The first pitch came from producer Beau Flynn, who had produced San Andreas, which I had really enjoyed. Beau said Rampage would be a huge popcorn movie. He knew that Dwayne [Johnson] and I would have a great time with our roles and going toe-to-toe with each other.
Later, I spoke with [director] Brad Peyton. I really liked him, and soon understood that he was a filmmaker I wanted to work with. He explained the movie to me, and I realized this is much bigger than anything I’d done before. Movies like this are why I became an actor. And, of course, the chance to work with Dwayne was a big draw.
QUESTION: So, what was it like going toe-to-toe with Dwayne?
JEFFREY DEAN MORGAN: Dwayne is exactly what I’d hoped he would be, and maybe more. I honestly don’t know how he does so much work. I thought that my schedule was nuts, but I’ve never seen anybody work as hard as Dwayne does. He’s also the most charismatic dude I’ve ever met. At the same time, he’s a guy you want to have a beer and hang out with. Dwayne steps in front of that camera and doesn’t mess around. He knows his stuff, which I appreciate, because I’m old and tired and I like that in an actor (laughs). We had so much fun working on Rampage.
QUESTION: What do you hope audiences take away from Rampage when they see it in cinemas this April?
JEFFREY DEAN MORGAN: Rampage is a popcorn movie to the nth degree. That was Brad’s original vision, and it exceeds my wildest imagination. I think the audience is going to have a blast. You’re going to laugh, the movie’s got heart, and it’s got Dwayne Johnson. How can you not love that?
QUESTION: I understand that you have some familiarity with the Rampage game. Did that factor in your decision to be a part of the film?
JOE MANGANIELLO: I’m 41, so Rampage was right in the sweet spot of the golden age of arcade games. I grew up playing the game.
The Rampage game had no story; it’s just about giant monsters destroying a city. So, I was curious to read the script and see [director] Brad [Peyton]’s take on the film. I thought Brad and the writers did a great job plotting out a story that was both plausible and a lot of fun.
QUESTION: Were there any moments on set that stood out for you?
JOE MANGANIELLO: There were long days with a lot of stunts and physicality. Whenever you get a bunch of guys together on a set, shooting long hours, there’s a camaraderie and brotherhood that forms and leads to everyone trying to crack each other up all day.
We also got a lot of free rides on the production’s Apache helicopters. When the production had to reset the cameras, they’d let the helicopter pilots take us up and fly us around. The pilots would do hardcore aerial maneuvers, where the Apache was basically turned sideways – with an open door. I’d sit on the edge, near the door, and we weren’t that far off the ground. That was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
QUESTION: Are you a fan of big action-adventure films, like Rampage?
JOE MANGANIELLO: Absolutely. I loved action movies growing up, and still do. I was obsessed with monsters, which is probably why I had such a great time playing the Rampage video game.
I’m excited to be a part of Rampage because it’s a movie that must be experienced in the cinema. It’s is a roller coaster ride. Just get your popcorn and kick your feet up and let us take you on an epic journey for two hours.