So in a stunning combination of my own personal universes, (1) WWE superstar John Cena was a guest on (2) NPR’s Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me, which I listen to via (3) podcast, and host Peter Sagal posted a request for questions on (4) Twitter, to which I responded with one about (5) Shakespeare, making that particular moment one of the most dense points of interest in my life to date.
What I suggested was, “Does Mr. Cena envision himself or any of the other wrestlers-turned-actors ever trying Shakespeare?”
They did not use my question, but this morning I did see an interview where Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was asked the same thing (take THAT, NPR!). But his answer was a generic joke (“my audition is next week”) and a generic answer about that being a goal, sure, why not.
Well when I wrote back to Peter Sagal about this he responded, and I quote Twitter: I actually think Cena could pull it off. The man has talent and determination. And biceps. Think a very buff Oberon.
Now, I can’t let that go. Oberon is indeed a bad-ass when he doesn’t get his way, but he strikes me as a bit too much the romantic for a WWE wrestler. There hasn’t been a real romantic storyline in pro wrestling since Macho Man Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth.
I could see him as Petruchio, playing up that whole sort of “Don’t think I won’t smack you, woman” thing right up to the edge, but still keeping it funny. And you’d have the perfect ending where he still thinks he’s in charge, and Kate thinks she’s in charge, and maybe they’re made for each other, who really knows, but it’s a happy ending so the audience is pleased.
The Rock, who has done more “real” movies than any of the other former wrestlers, I could see in something more serious. Not Hamlet, let’s not get crazy. Could he pull off Henry V? I’m trying to think of something where he could be the stunningly handsome, brave and strong young prince and essentially be the hero without having to stretch his dramatic chops to the breaking point. I’m wondering if maybe something in Julius Caesar for him. Does Antony get enough screen time? I’m so used to these guys being the big box office draw it’s hard for me to imagine them in any but the lead roles, and I do not see him as Brutus.
Hulk Hogan, for some reason, I have in my head as Lord Capulet. I’ve seen decades of that whole “Let me at him, I’ll murder him, don’t hold me back!'” thing they do every week while the tiny referee just puts up the one hand and they can’t get around him. I could see Hogan doing that with Lady Capulet in the opening fight in the streets.
Anyway, I have to get back to work. Who else has some? Which wrestlers would make the best villains?