Stone Cold -- 'The Condemned's' perfect fit
On April 27, WWE fans will get to see Stone Cold Steve Austin make his debut as the lead in a major motion picture in The Condemned. Stone Cold will play Jack Conrad, one of 10 convicts on an island fighting for freedom and his life. It's been a long road for Stone Cold, but he's ready to stun the movie business.
"Starring in my first major motion picture as the lead is a really big deal to me. Sometimes you have to really pay your dues, and there's a lot of politics that go on in the movie business," he told WWE.com.
"It's not like you can walk in as basically an unknown -- even though I have most of the box office records, merchandise records, pay-per-view records and sold-out arena records. But when you take that to Beverly Hills, nobody cares," he said.
Once Stone Cold read the preliminary script of The Condemned, his interest was sparked. The idea of an action-adventure film intrigued him.
"You have 10 prisoners who were condemned to die on death row, bought by an executive TV producer and put on an island to fight for their lives," Stone Cold explained. "The guy's going to broadcast this over the World Wide Web. It's an interesting concept."
Stone Cold's athleticism and love of the outdoors were also factors in choosing to make The Condemned.
"I thought it was a very hard movie to make -- lots of physicality, tons of fights, lots of violence," he said.
"Also, one of the things that really interested me about this movie was that it was pretty much all filmed outdoors. Coming from a background of lots of hunting and fishing outdoors, I thought I would enjoy that," he continued. "The settings are just outstanding in Australia."
Initially, Stone Cold wasn't slated to play the lead character of Conrad when The Condemned script landed in his lap.
"Originally, when the agent brought me this movie, he kind of envisioned me being Ewan McStarley. That was his original thought," Stone Cold said, referring to the character played by co-star Vinnie Jones. "It sounded really good to me just because I've always enjoyed being the bad guy."
Stone Cold explained that when Mr. McMahon and WWE Films read The Condemned script, Mr. McMahon thought Stone Cold would be better as the film's lead.
"When Mr. McMahon decided WWE Films wanted to make this movie, and I was going to be Conrad, I was completely happy with that," Stone Cold said. "No hesitations whatsoever."
The Condemned director and co-writer Scott Wiper rewrote the script numerous times after Stone Cold was given the role of Conrad, tailoring the character to his personality.
"I really tried to listen to everybody and I learned a lot. I tried to incorporate that into every draft of the script," director Scott Wiper said. "I tried to incorporate as much of Stone Cold's personality into the character of Jack Conrad."
Stone Cold pointed out that Conrad isn't the typical action hero in The Condemned.
"We put an interesting spin on the guy. He doesn't talk about himself. He's not the kind of guy who just waves the flag and says, ‘Hey, I'm the good guy,' " Stone Cold said.
"You've got to look at what he does behind the scenes and some of the back story to really get him, because I don't think good heroes go patting themselves on the back, and certainly in this movie, Conrad doesn't do that."