Interview with Wade Barrett
Ever since I was a little kid, I was a huge fan of professional wrestling, specifically WWE. But things have changed since then because now they’re expanding their operation beyond the squared circle and producing big time Hollywood movies. After releasing a number of films straight to DVD over the past few years, WWE Films is evolving to include extended theatrical releases and A-list people in front of and behind the camera.
In one of their latest films, ‘Dead Man Down’, where two strangers are drawn to each other by their mutual desire for revenge, WWE presents a story written by J.H. Wyman of ‘Fringe’ and directed by Niels Arden Oplev, the director of the original ‘Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’. With all that talent behind the camera, that amount is exceeded in front of it with a great cast including Colin Farrell, Noomi Rapace, Dominic Cooper, and Terrence Howard. The wrestling company making movies is certainly stepping it up a notch.
But not only does the film feature an impressive roster of actors, it features a pretty prominent figure from WWE programming as well. As the reigning WWE Intercontinental Champion, Wade Barrett can be seen every week on Monday Night Raw or Friday Night Smackdown, but with ‘Dead Man Down’, the former bare-knuckle boxing champion makes his debut on the big screen.
Last week, I had the pleasure of chatting with Wade on the phone to discuss his new movie, his experiences as a first-time actor, and the city of Philadelphia.
PFM: ‘Dead Man Down’ had quite the impressive cast. What was it like working with big names such as Colin Farrell, Noomi Rapace, and Terrence Howard in your acting debut?
Wade Barrett: It was great. It was the first film that I was every really involved in, so I was incredibly lucky to be around those guys and get tips from them. I got to watch them in really close quarters and they were able to help me out. I felt very privileged to be starting out at the top really in their world. Obviously, I’m a professional wrestler in the WWE and I had to start out the hard way wrestling on very small circuits in the UK. We weren’t in the most glamorous buildings and sometimes there were small crowds, but I worked my way up the ladder. It was nice already starting at the top of the ladder with [‘Dead Man Down’].
PFM: WWE Films is known to feature superstars in their movies, but I was wondering how you come to be featured in the film? Did you see the script and get interested in it or did they just offer it to you?
WB: I actually got injured about a year ago. I broke my arm while I was wrestling live on TV. I had surgery and I was going to be out of the ring for about three months. Fortunately for me, this role came up with WWE Studios and they asked me if I’d be interested. I read the script and thought it was great. Then I went out to Philadelphia for a casting session where I read for the role. Fortunately, they liked what they saw and they liked me for the part.
PFM: Your character Kilroy gets involved in a good bit of action in the movie, but you’re used to action all the time with the WWE. How was training for the movie different than training for the ring?
WB: Probably the biggest difference is that fact that on a movie, if you make a mistake, you can always go back and reshoot it. We might shoot the same scene about 15 to 20 times, whereas in WWE, everything is live. We don’t get that second chance. There are people watching us in the arenas and at home. If you do make a mistake, you have to try to cover it up. In the WWE, you kind of feed off of the adrenaline from the live crowd, but it’s a different kind of adrenaline when you’re performing just for a camera in the studio or on a film set. They both can be exhausting, but they’re two different kinds.
PFM: Dead Man Down did quite a bit of shooting in Philadelphia, where RAW will be tonight. How was your experience filming in the city?
WB: I love the city! Prior to the film, I have a pretty positive view of Philadelphia. We didn’t really shoot too much in the city. We were more out in the more industrial areas. But I got to stay in Philadelphia for two months while we shot the movie. My hotel was in Rittenhouse Square and I did the touristy thing and saw the Liberty Bell and the Rocky statue at the Art Museum stairs. I really enjoyed it and I can’t wait to go back.
PFM: With former WWE superstars like The Rock, Stone Cold, and Batista breaking into the film industry and finding success, do you think you’ll follow in their footsteps one day to do more movies?
WB: Yeah, it’s definitely something that I’m interested in doing, but right now I’m fully focused on my wrestling career. I’m 32 and I think that I’ve got quite a bit more that I want to achieve in the WWE, but it’s more like something that I’d do in between wrestling or certainly when I’ve retired from wrestling. It’s something that I enjoy doing.
Of course, I wouldn’t have felt right having a WWE Superstar on the phone without discussing a little bit of wrestling. Since the company’s biggest event of the year, Wrestlemania is fast approaching, I thought that that would be a good place to start.
PFM: Wrestlemania season is in full swing, but the prestigious Intercontinental Title and it’s champion aren’t on the card yet. Who do you think will step up to challenge you for your title on the grandest stage of them all?
WB: There’s a few people who want to challenge for it at the moment, but The Miz is probably the guy at the moment who’s the biggest thorn in my side. He’s been getting into some trouble with me recently on Raw and on Main Event, but it would be interesting to step in the ring with him because I haven’t had a singles match with him in my career. Whoever it ends up being, Wrestlemania is going to be a great show and we’d all like to be a part of it in some way, shape, or form.
PFM: Since you’ve been occupied with the likes of The Miz and Chris Jericho lately, like in that awesome triple threat match on Monday, Bo Dallas hasn’t been bothering you too much. Is he still on your radar, especially after the Royal Rumble?
WB: I’m actually driving to Orlando today for NXT, which is WWE’s developmental company. It’s kind of like the minor leagues of the WWE. They have a show out in Orlando and Bo Dallas is wrestling on that show, so I’m going to go over there and find him right now. I’m not done with him by any means. You may not see it on Raw or Smackdown, but believe me, I’m going to get some payback.
(Note: You can watch Bo Dallas and the rest of the NXT superstars every week on their show on Hulu Plus to see how Wade makes an impact during his visit.)
PFM: Speaking of Bo Dallas, there’s a whole new crop of fresh talent coming into the WWE main roster like Antonio Cesaro and The Shield. Who do you think are some of the more impressive up and comers in the WWE right now?
WB: I think that it’s been a very good year with some great new guys coming up. Ryback is incredible. The Shield, as you mentioned, they’ve been great. I think Bo Dallas is going to be good, but he made a huge mistake when he came after me. There’s another guy who I think will be good as well. A guy called Fandango who has this dancing thing going on. He’s a very good wrestler. Don’t let the character fool you. I think that he’ll go a vey long way. There’s really a lot of great guys, so it’s a very exciting time.
PFM: Finally, of all the wrestlers from the past and present, who would be your dream Wrestlemania opponent?
WB: Of all time? I think it would be the British Bulldog, Davey Boy Smith. Unfortunately, he passed away about 10 years ago. When I was a young kid growing up in the UK watching WWE, he was my hero. He was the guy that I always wanted to be like, so if I could pick anyone, it would be him.
PFM: Very cool. Thanks a lot for taking some time out of your busy schedule to talk to me, Wade. It was a pleasure.
You can catch Wade Barrett’s theatrical debut, ‘Dead Man Down’, in theaters everywhere, but you can see him every week on Monday Night Raw on the USA Network or on Friday Night Smackdown on SyFy. Also, Wrestlemania 29 will be broadcasting live from MetLife Stadium on April 7, 2013 featuring such superstars as The Rock, John Cena, Triple H, Brock Lesnar, The Undertaker, CM Punk, and more.