'Rampage' Press Conference Recap

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The cast and director of Rampage assembled in Los Angeles for a press conference on Thursday. Actor PJ Byrne introduced the conference, hosting it himself.

“This is the first time, I think, that an actor from a film has moderated a press conference,” Byrne said. “It’s historic!” He went on to introduce director Brad Peyton, and cast members Joe Manganiello, Malin Ackerman, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Naomi Harris and Dwayne Johnson.

Byrne starts by asking about what surprises them about being in these big blockbuster films or being an actor.

“I think it’s the magnitude of everything,” Ackerman said. “Brad did an incredible job. For us, it’s a bit of a mystery to be where you’re looking at a green screen and then to see it come to life, it’s so fun. We get to be the audience as an actor in it.”

“The movie was shot really fast,” Peyton said. “It’s about 55 days which is six week less than San Andreas.” He was doing the mix and editing all at the same time, “I learned from Dwayne that I also like working a lot so I like to get as much done in my lifetime as possible.”

“For the last 25 minutes of the movie,” Peyton said, “I had moments oh like, ‘Holy God, this is bananas!’”

“It’s a dream come true doing a movie like this,” Morgan said. “When someone calls and says hey would you be interested in dong a movie with Dwayne and it’s got monsters in it, it’s sort of what you dream about as a little kid. Brad, he’s so on top of it, there is a lot of green screen and look at the tennis ball, but…he was so meticulous in his prep that he had scenes done on his iPad that we could see…Thank God!”

Byrne asks about heart of the film.

“The relationship with myself and the gorilla George was something we had talked about very early,” “You could ave the calamity of a movie like this…we have three gigantic monsters completely destroying the city of Chicago. Much like the original video game, there wasn’t a lot of story like you find in today’s video games…Then we also though, we need an anchor, what’s going to anchor this movie in heart and soul?…That’s going to be a relationship between myself and my best friend [George]… We felt like if we were going to nail that anchor, we had a shot a ride people would want to go on with us.”

Byrne as Mangaiello about getting this part in the film?

“I wrote a version of a Dungeons & Dragons film when it was at Warner Bros.,” Manganiello said. “I found out Brad was also a big fan of the property and was looking to direct that. I heard they were talking to [Johnson] about that as well. So, I got my agents to connect me to Brad…We got on a Skype call and after a couple minutes, Brad was like, ‘He man, I’m down in Atlanta…Come shoot this movie, we’ll talk about Dungeons & Dragons, and we’ll go from there.’”

A member of the press asks Johnson about how he crafted the first good video game movie.

“I helped the curse,” Johnson says, referencing Doom. “It was probably just a matter of being aware of the movie we were making and trying to be aware of what we were and what we are…It’s a fine needle to thread…The goal was to lean into the absurdity of it and bring in the best filmmakers we can…By the end of the movie, if you look closely, the alligator is the size of a football field and half, so it was a matter of leaning into the ridiculousness.” He wanted to, as mentioned earlier, anchor the film in the relationship with the gorilla. “I think there was a time when we were creating the script and chopping it up and we thought, ‘What if my best friend had the personality of a 12-year-old?’”

Did Johnson enjoy going from Jumanji back to play a full-on bad-ass?

“It was a lot of fun playing a total bad-ass but I think the key for me personally is finding those moments… It’s fun and cool to be bad-ass but I find it fun and interesting and entertaining when something undercuts the bad-ass. A scene that I love is when George comes back and the R-19 works…and I start running away and I love moments like that where we’re undercutting the bad-assery.” He says the antagonist being so gigantic and running for them is the most fun.

What were the influences for the debris on the ground and destruction.

“It’s weird that my comfort zone is destruction,” Peyton said. “I feel very luck that I grew up on the movies of the late 80s to the mid 90s. Spielberg and Cameron…Tonally, I can’t help but be influenced by those…I’m such a huge movie fan, gamer, fanboy, and I know that exists in me so I try to just focus on what I’m doing but for me, the biggest influence for me, was Terminator 2….I watched that movie and I’m like, ‘Yes!’ The thumbs up is awesome, you buy all of it…Influence wise, it’s just growing up on those movies. Coming from a place of passion.”

What movie made you fall in love with the theater experience?

“Jurassic Park, the first one,” Johnson said. “Before that, another Spielberg movie, Indiana Jones… Specifically, I remember watching Jurassic Park and then feeling the theater shake, specifically when the dinosaurs started to walk, I was blown away by that.”

“Return of the Jedi,” Peyton said. “Return of the Jedi, I think, came back… That came back and the heart, this kid, you find out he’s a farm boy, this kid who saves the galaxy and then going to all those worlds, it blew my mind. It totally transported you when you were young.”

Johnson reveals their homage to the game.

“That was our big homage to the video game, as the monsters go on their destruction, there’s a lady in a red dress who sometimes she gets away, and sometimes she gets eaten. Last night was the homage!”

“My eight-year-old was like, ‘she had that coming!’” Morgan said.

Where did Morgan get his character from?

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“I have to give credit to our director,” Morgan said. “Brad had this all in his head I’m gonna start with cowboy boots and we’re gonna come up and it’s this big-as belt buckle…We get there and we started picking out belt buckles and guns. The gun was when I was like, ‘Yeah.’ He wears the gun where no one actually can, in front of his dick!”

The conference concludes with Peyton and Johnson revealing the admirable traits they seen in one another, which keeps them coming back to work together on more projects.