John Cena has grappled with Dwayne Johnson in the ring before, and now he, too, is wrestling Hollywood for a place in mainstream pop culture.
Cena stars alongside Aaron Taylor-Johnson as a pair of soldiers who get pinned down by an Iraqi sniper in the war movie The Wall (in theaters nationwide Friday). It’s a more serious effort than what the 16-time WWE champion has been doing lately — guesting on the Today show, hosting the Kids’ Choice Awards — though it falls right into Cena’s mindset as a cross-platform entertainer.
“You have to constantly tell a new and interesting story,” says Cena, 40, who had two scene-stealing comedic turns in 2015 as Amy Schumer’s musclehead boyfriend in Trainwreck and a tattooed drug dealer opposite Tina Fey and Amy Poehler in Sisters. “It’s just luck, shaking hands and preparation, and then you have to take a little bit of a risk and you see what happens.”
The flattop-wearing, all-American Cena’s social media game is as rock-solid as his biceps (with 43.8 million Facebook likes and 9.5 million Twitter followers), and he gets a huge reaction whenever he returns to the ring. But how does Cena compare with someone like Johnson, the charismatic Fast and Furious franchise star and reigning Sexiest Man Alive?