Stone Cold, meet Jack Conrad
During the initial plans for The Condemned, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin wasn't slated to play convict Jack Conrad, the movie's lead character. Today, it seems hard to imagine Stone Cold as someone other than the strong hero in the action-adventure film.
"Conrad doesn't just go around saying he's a tough guy. He's a businessman, he's a military man," Stone Cold explained. "He's the kind of guy who takes chances, but he's very good at what he does."
The physicality and outdoor setting initially sparked Stone Cold's interest in The Condemned. He was picked to portray Ewan McStarley (played by Vinnie Jones), but it was only a matter of time before Stone Cold was given the role of Conrad. Director/writer Scott Wiper tailored and rewrote the script several times because Stone Cold was "the perfect fit" for the lead role.
"It was written for Stone Cold. It was not only written for him, but I did draft after draft for him," Wiper said.
"I think we have a movie where you have so many bad people, so many killers, that it allows Stone Cold to be a very down and dirty hero. On this island he's the best," Wiper continued. "He's the most decent human being there. It allows him to remain an anti-hero -- a Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson-type hero -- without being your traditional good guy."
While Conrad isn't exactly a softie, he's a character who puts thought behind his actions.
"I like playing the part of Jack Conrad because he's a tough guy, but he cares for other people," Stone Cold said. "He's somewhat of a loner. There are nine other people against him, so there's no time to sit there and make friends. It's all about survival. He's going to do whatever it takes to make it through."
Of course, the question begs to be asked -- who's tougher: Stone Cold or Conrad?
"I'd split it right down the middle and say they're equally tough," Stone cold said. "They're two different cats. Stone Cold gets to go in front of a live crowd of tens of thousands of people in a sold-out arena. Jack Conrad's on an island and he's trying to fight to get back to Texas and talk to his girl and her two kids."
Stone Cold said each man is tough, but has a different way of taking care of business.
"Stone Cold's a lot louder. He's a hell-raiser," he said. "Jack Conrad can be a hell-raiser, but he's a businessman, an ex-military man. He's more about survival and thinking about his next move. He's like a chess player on amphetamines, making all the right moves to be able to get to his goal, which is get off that island and go back to that family."
"But if I had to pick a winner, I've got to go with Stone Cold Steve Austin," he laughed. "Because he's the original."