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Race to Witch Mountain in our magazines

SUBJECT: Race to Witch Mountain

Dwayne Johnson Dwayne Johnson

After his lucrative career as a wrestler using the moniker ĎThe Rock,í following his grandfather and father into the ring, Dwayne Johnson is now a successful movie star, displaying his unique blend of action and comedic timing to such profitable films as The Game Plan and Get Smart.
In Disneyís new family film Race to Witch Mountain, the actor plays Jack Bruno, a down-and-out Las Vegas cab driver whose life is thrown into chaos by two alien teenagers, who need his help to return home.

Were you familiar with the original 1975 movie, Escape to Witch Mountain?:
Director Andy Fickman and Dwayne JohnsonSure, I was a fan of it when I was younger, and Andy [Fickman, director] came to me with the idea about doing a re-imagining, as I like to describe it, of the movie. I loved the idea of working with him again, and Andyís take was to make it the biggest adventure you possibly could, and inject humor where you possible could that wouldnít stifle the story from progressing. A lot of times youíll see that comedy is put in just for comedy sake, in this case it was how can we still propel the story but yet make people laugh along the way. And the script came in, I really enjoyed it, and we were off to the races.

What is it about original that you felt made it right for a re-imagining?:
The new line-up, AnnaSophia Robb, Dwayne Johnson and Alexander LudwigI thought that they made the best movie in the Seventies that they could have made back then, and they created a classic in terms of the story. Itís a little tricky, especially when youíre dealing with movies that are classics, and you try [to do a] remake. In Disneyís case, because they are so very brands specific, itís a little tricky and you want to be careful. I, along with Disney, just loved Andyís take on the movie. He took a great idea and made it bigger. How could we make it not only bigger, but how could we serve it up to the audience today that would leave them thoroughly entertained, especially in todayís climate where you have so many movies out there that are strong in special effects and visual effects.

At one time you and Andy were saying that you were going for a PG-13 but you knew it could go PG, when you were shooting it did it affect the decisions you made?
Thatís a good question, no. Andy wanted to infuse a lot of action with the comedy, and certainly with the fantasy element. He didnít shoot it in a way that it was ever restraining for us, he shot it with all the action, with all the special effects, as if it were going to be a strong PG-13, and if we had to dial it back in editing then he did, and it just so happens that we made the best version of a movie in a PG setting that we could. And we pushed the envelope in it quite a bit.

How much did the car stunt work did you get to do?:
Careful actionÖI actually did all the stunt work which was great for me, it was a lot of fun. It reminded me of just how fun and cool movies are. I had never shot action sequences like that, car chase sequences, so it was a lot of fun. We had Scott Rogers who was the action co-ordinator for the Bourne movies who came on board and put together these really great action sequences, car chase sequences, and much to Andy Fickmanís chagrin I was able to do all the car stuff without him knowing, because second unit shot it, so thatís how he didnít know that I was in the car.

Would he have said no?
He would have said no, but I would not have listened, much like I normally donít when he gives me direction.

Youíve done a lot of green screen before.:
Alexander Ludwig, Dwayne Johnson, AnnaSophia Robb and Carla GuginoNot particularly a lot, the very first time I was exposed to it was on The Mummy Returns, which was my first role, at the end of the movie. Thereís a good amount of green screen or blue screen and itís always a lot of fun, itís a fun challenge to act against the blue screen, depending upon what the scenario is, whether itís a car chase sequence or you being chased by an alien, or you have to fight an alien. But I think itís always pretty fun and unique, and it reminds me again just how fun and cool movies are. When you think about a movie like 300, where it was all essentially blue screen, what a great challenge it was for those guys.

Do you have any good taxi cab experiences?
My experiences in taxis have been very interesting, and they go back to when I was in college where there was usually a good amount of alcohol involved and things taking place in the back of the cab that are pretty unmentionable at this point.

Your character doesnít believe in aliens Ė do you ?
Sure, I do. I think that we would be as a society incredibly arrogant I believe to think that weíre the only life out there in our existence, in our galaxy. I havenít actually seen a UFO, I thought I did, but then I realized again it was the alcohol that I had consumed [he laughs] Thereís incredible footage out there [of UFOs] thatís hard to dismiss, and Iím grateful to Andy because Andy was born in Roswell, New Mexico, heís very passionate about UFOís and alien life and his whole office is decorated with alien life, and heís very passionate about that and heís a big believer. He supplied all of us actors with hours of footage that we were able to view, and the archival footage was really spectacular, and if youíre a non-believer itís hard not to question your beliefs.

The movie ends with sequel written all over it Ė are you open to that?
Absolutely, and I think success breeds that type of opportunity, and if the audiences respond the way we hope that they do, then Iím sure weíll be talking about a sequel. Itís always fun, especially if youíre passionate about the material that youíre shooting, to think about what the possibilities may be and where the sorry can take these characters, and how much more fun we can have once all these characters are established, and what new characters can we introduce, so thatís a fun process on the set until someone inevitably will go, ĎHold on guys, we havenít even shot this movie yet.í Weíll see what happens.

Written by Judy Sloane. Back to top

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Images above © Walt Disney Pictures
Feature © 2009 Visual Imagination.
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