How Dwayne Johnson Elevated Black Adam

Dwayne Johnson has been attached to the role of Black Adam for nearly a decade, with a movie titled around the character finally set to debut in October. With Johnson having a long-running reputation for his long work, it should come as no surprise that the wrestler turned Hollywood star brought a lot of his own ideas and work ethic to the production of Black Adam. While talking to press during a Q&A ahead of the release of Black Adam's second trailer, Black Adam stars Aldis Hodge, Quintessa Swindell, Sarah Shahi, and Mohammed Amer opened up about how Johnson set a standard for elevating each other and the film.

"There are not enough hours in the day for him to get everything done that he needs to do," Shahi, who plays a new DC character named Adriana in Black Adam, said. "Every minute is spent bettering something that he is involved in. And when he was on set and working with the movie, it was for the movie. And then the minute that was done, it was onto something else. But he was incredibly involved and so supportive. I remember I asked him one time, because Mo had his special and DJ recorded this thing for an intro for your special. And I remember I said to him, I was like, "That was so nice of you to do that. And why did you do that?"

Shahi, with a long-running list of credits including films where she has starred with high-profile actors, noted how unusual it is to see someone with so much reach be so regularly supportive of people around them. "They're not that gracious with themselves," Shahi said. "And he is somebody who is incredibly gracious of himself, of his life, to other people. And it's new for me to experience. And I was like, 'That was really, really sweet of you to do that. And why did you do that? I'm just curious.' And he was like, 'You know, Sarah,' he was like, 'I like Mo.' And he was like, 'When I like people, I want to see people win.' And it's so true. And I feel like every single one of us was on the receiving end of that. And as a costar, as a producer, all of that stuff, he was very supportive."

Hawkman actor Hodge chimed in with some humor about Johnson. "Here's the thing they're not telling you about DJ," he joked. "He's actually triplets and that's how he can be everywhere at once." 

More seriously, he had a specific example of how Johnson helped improve a sequence in the film and offer an idea which could make Hodge's Hawkman a more liked character. "To Sarah's point, I remember there was one day on set where, I mean, they were constantly working over story, making it... They really were focused on rooting this in some grounded honesty for these characters, their motivations," Hodge explained. "But there was one line that my character had, we were in a tense situation. And I said it, and DJ was like, 'Eh, we got to change that.' You know what I'm saying? And he's like, 'All right, well, let's change it because this comes off a little rough. I think it's going to make him a little bit... People might think he's a little mean. We want them to understand him and root for him. We're not trying to villainize Hawkman in this moment. We're trying to make him... He's leader, but we want to understand. So we're going to switch these lines a little bit. We're going to do this, da-da-da, to give him the space and the platform to be supported here by the audience.'"

According to Hodge, "He did that for everybody, in terms of giving us our space to step up to shine." The actor promises that audiences will leave Black Adam fulfilled. "You're not going to leave this, 'I wish I would've had a little bit more of that,'" he said. "I mean, you definitely going want some more, but you're not going to lack getting the full experience of all of these characters. And that was something I think that was paramount for DJ and the entire producing team from the get-go, is making sure that everybody had their shine. Very much gracious in sharing the stage. And that was really important to them, and we appreciate it."

Amer, who joins the DC world as a new character, echoed the sentiment. "Just seeing him in this role was just drastically different than anything he's done before where he's a happy, jokey, whatever kind of character and to see him so serious and deadpan and just saying, 'Just kill them,' it's like, 'What'd you just say?'" Amer said. "It's just so weird to see that happen. When we were working together, there was many times where I'd look at it and I'm like, 'Oh, this is going to be amazing.' It feels like everything he's done in his career thus far, which has been incredible and amazing. I don't know how he sustained it. Really, it's just mind blowing. And then you get to this moment, you're like, 'Oh all of that was for this.'"

Are you excited to see Black Adam join the DCEU? Share your thoughts in the comment section or send them my way on TwitterBlack Adam hits theaters on October 21.