F9’s John Cena on Vulnerability, Racing and Becoming Rapid & Furious

Franchise newcomer John Cena unpacks his profession and tells us a harrowing, genuine street racing story. Photograph-illustration: Observer Dia Dipasupil/Getty Visuals

Twenty years and a lot more than $6 billion afterwards, the Quickly and Furious franchise is continue to burning rubber. Above the system of its gasoline-fueled lifespan, raising the stakes to unattainable highs has tested irresistible. What started out as a very simple street racing equipment-head fantasy has morphed into a world-trotting tremendous spy adventure. Freeway chase scenes have been changed by physics-defying set items of epically ridiculous proportions. Very hot Wheels athletics cars of the mid-aughts have been returned in favor of tanks, submarines, and magnet planes. And what started as a limited knit forged has remodeled into a sprawling varied ensemble.

Ludacris, Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Gal Gadot, Kurt Russell, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba. Practically just about every big star who is up for some nos-soaked enjoyable has joined The Speedy and the Furious ranks (we have our personal absurd time travel ideas for the future of the franchise). The hottest supersized addition is John Cena, who has been aggressively growing his blockbuster franchise profile due to the fact his WWE times. The star not long ago chatted with Observer about coming into this very long-functioning film franchise as a newcomer, transitioning to movie stardom, and much more.


Observer: The Quick and Furious franchise is a film series created all over upping the ante every time. Did you give any thought, as a newcomer to the sequence, as to how you ended up likely to add to that?

John Cena: Fast has so several excellent folks guiding it. Justin [Lin] at the helm, and Vin [Diesel], the heartbeat of the franchise. A team of performers that have been upping the ante, so to speak, for two a long time now. In that regard, I’m just trusting the process. As the new invitee, I don’t assume it’s my position to be like, “Yo fellas, we must this!” It’s my location to glimpse at the content, that the specialists and the men and women with the 10,000 hours have established, soak up the substance the best I can, question as quite a few issues as I can, and fairly considerably depart it all on the lens and hope it works. I never have to occur forth with tips about how to make amazing magnet weaponry. I just have to focus on Jakob.

I when damn near totaled my Dad’s auto. And male, it was undesirable. I was road racing some kid and I’m driving the way I should not have been driving.

Can you give an example of 1 of the issues you did really feel you necessary to request in that atmosphere?

Yeah, so me currently being a admirer of the Quick & Furious, and then discovering out that I’m Dom’s more youthful brother, a whole lot of that is: Okay, what was likely on? Why now? Why do we uncover out about Dom’s young brother now? Why was he absent? What could he have possibly been executing when he was absent? What was the reason for the absence? What was their relationship like just before? Just the regular queries that most or all performers would have, and then you proceed to go further and deeper, and it gets quite deep into how performers and executing arts folks hone their craft… and that’s not actually basic, I don’t want to dive as well deep into the weeds, but you mainly ask “How can I be the very best Jakob?”

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Vin Diesel and John Cena in Rapidly and Furious 9. Universal

So how did you feel as a newcomer coming into this kind of an set up franchise in which every person else has created a familiarity?

It was not without its sizing up, which I truly like. Here I am, a new invitee, to a franchise that is globally productive and recognised all through the earth, quite a great deal receiving a golden possibility. This franchise is a achievement. They really don’t need to have me to further that accomplishment. I’m finding a lucky invite to be a part of something. Which is truly exclusive.

I don’t blame the performers for earning certain my intentions are to add, alternatively than to just take away. If I walk on that set as the new dude, declaring “This tale is about me, I’m heading to take as much as I can and vault absent immediately after this,” as a performer which is supplied 20 decades of my everyday living to a legacy this sort of as this, that could be off-placing. But I consider when absolutely everyone observed that my objective is to make the greatest installment of this franchise and support it move ahead to a conversational end, as has been discussed, I imagine everybody’s satisfied about that, simply because it safeguards the operate that they’ve completed. I’m not a parasite in that regard. I’m trying to add.

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Vin Diesel and John Cena in F9. Universal

As a self-described auto head, do you have any a little bit insane automobile stories from your youth when most likely you acquired a little bit as well ambitious on the highway?

You know, I when damn in the vicinity of totaled my Dad’s auto. And man, it was poor. I was road racing some kid and I’m driving the way I should not have been driving. But I was a youthful particular person and imagined I was bulletproof and invincible. I lied to my Father. I informed him some man hit me in a parking good deal. And that was the worst address up lie ever in the record of everything. He thought it, or so he said, and we moved on.

Suitable when I began to get some notoriety and achievement in the WWE, the quite to start with point I did was make positive that my father would never have to pay out for transportation ever all over again. So since then, he’s had a flood of new ways to get himself around town. But that was unquestionably 1 of the stupidest ‘effin matters that I at any time did. And I imagine it was like a Ford or 1988 Hyundai much too, so I didn’t truly have any company performing functionality avenue driving. It taught me a valuable lesson that I’m not invincible.

When anyone sees somebody of actual physical stature, they put them in a category of selected qualities. Staying susceptible isn’t automatically connected with currently being a significant muscular man.

Talking of invincibility, what do you assume your physicality delivers to your do the job as an actor?

Which is an attention-grabbing dilemma. I feel a lot of men and women would lean into the actuality that they’re able of carrying out physical issues. Now, preserve in head, there are so several gifted stunt performers and 2nd device performers that can make unachievable action search wonderful. I’d somewhat lean into or play in opposition to stereotypes affiliated with men and women who are physically healthy. I suggest, perception is what we have to choose people today on. We’re human beings… we all judge. When someone sees another person of physical stature, they put them in a group of specified characteristics. Remaining vulnerable isn’t necessarily affiliated with currently being a massive muscular guy.

I really like leaning into that facet of myself. And I really like displaying that on display and a great deal of that comedy was harnessed for Trainwreck. Here’s this broken, puzzled man who maybe would like a romance and perhaps on the other hand is bewildered about his sexuality and is shamed from currently being dumped and not giving sufficient consideration. All of that stuff in a physique that doesn’t dictate any of those people conversations, I consider is entertaining. So that’s what I pick out to lean into. I’ll never end training. I adore actual physical health and wellness. But I’m a human being who continues to study self and acquire and grow as a particular person. I consider it is interesting to lean into or towards all those stereotypes involved with with bodily health.

I consider if people today choose to perspective me as they want, I signify, I’m comfy with who I am. I by no means get drained of going for walks down the road hearing  “John Cena!”

You are definitely an imposing determine on monitor. But you also engage in against type to good comedic outcome in Trainwreck and Blockers. Honing your mic skills in the WWE is fantastic follow, but are there any other physical exercises or education you do to put together you as an on-screen performer offered how diverse the mediums are?

Man, you came ready for struggle these days. These are wonderful queries. I am however undoubtedly attempting to come across my way… and what I will say about my time in the WWE is there there are multiple paths to success. My route to achievements, and my capabilities and the things that I assume are important—someone else can be fully different and continue to reach achievement.

I think the executing arts are that way. Just about anything interpretive, I feel is that way. So me finding out, I virtually just memorize the get the job done way forward of time, so I really do not consider about it. And then I rely on the people I get the job done with. Castmates, and certainly who was ever in as director and I recognized that my career is not to craft the movie, my career is to be a piece in the film, and enable the individual directing to craft the film.

So I memorize the function, be entirely current and test to do my finest to be there. And just have confidence in the procedure.

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John Cena in F9. Universal

You 1st came to prominence in the WWE and you’ve spoken fondly about it on a number of events. But is there any motivation or conscious hard work on your element to, not so much length your self from your in-ring persona, but to make confident that equally casting administrators and audiences never only look at you via that solitary lens?

No, not a single. I assume if folks pick to see me as they want, I signify, I’m snug with who I am. So I don’t want to influence anybody’s perception. I’ll just take options as they come to me and do my greatest with chances. And I assume that’s the most effective way to modify perception.

Declaring I never want to be identified as this or distancing myself from something I really like so a great deal. I adore when persons are like, “Why is he interviewing a blank chair? Mainly because no person can see him.” I hardly ever get exhausted of that. I hardly ever get worn out of going for walks down the street hearing  “John Cena!” [Hums tune of his entrance theme “The Time Is Now.”] I like that that signifies that one thing I did in my daily life afflicted a person in some kind of way. Why would I want to distract from that?

I understand occasionally how frustrating typecasting and judgment and perception can be, but it goes again to the dialogue we had about physical appearance. I know there is far more to me than what you see. I have to be assured with that. I simply cannot be frustrated in the simple fact that you never know that. And that’s ok. And 1 venture at a time. I genuinely didn’t assume I’d at any time be right here. But just one issue at a time, I had to commence from scratch about yet again with a new philosophy and a new standpoint. I believe that starts off with currently being ok with who you are and being alright with what you’ve completed and then moving forward just one matter at a time.

Transformers, Quick and Furious, DC Prolonged Universe. You have been in some of the most significant movie franchises in the world. Are there any other folks you’d like to locate your way into in the long term?

I have been requested that issue a ton and my response doesn’t improve. I really do not glimpse at existence like that. I did not have any of these issues on a checklist. When they questioned, I showed up. I consider prospect finds us, I do not assume we find opportunity in that regard. We just have to be all set when it is there and be courageous more than enough to swing. So I really don’t know. I really don’t know what I’ll be portion of future. But I’ll know when the chance exhibits up.

This interview has been flippantly edited and condensed for clarity.

F9 debuts in theaters June 25, 2021.

John Cena Explores His Vulnerability and What He Brought to ‘F9’

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