John Cena is in the spotlight for many young fans who idolize him, much like many of the pop culture icons from the 80s era in which Bumblebee takes place.
Having fulfilled an impressive career as a WWE Superstar (which he plans to continue) and transitioning into Hollywood as a movie star, Cena bears the burden of being a role model for young people. He's doing a great job of it, having granted more than 500 Make-A-Wish requests and leading by example both on and off camera, but this doesn't come without the idols which shaped him years ago.
"Back then was the era of large poster marquis action stars: Arnold, Sly, Bruce Willis, Tom Cruise, you name it," Cena told ComicBook.com. "Throw Chuck Norris and Charles Bronson into the conversation. Those were the typical leads in movies and the movie-making industry has changed, and I'm thankful for that, but back then, it was based on a person and their projects. Now, it's much more based on the quality of the project, which I do enjoy that. Not to say any of those movies were bad or anything, but the consumer has evolved and is more intelligent and the products have evolved. You can say the same thing about WWE. There's always been a front man, let's say, the WWE, whether it was Hogan or Austin or Shawn Michaels or Bret Hart, and I was kind of the last of that. I didn't even consider myself one, because even when I was there, there were multiple people that kind of shared the duties of pulling the sled that is the WWE, the constant sled that is the WWE."
Now, Cena admits, there has been a shift in how celebrity is treated on a WWE basis. "If you look at the product now, there's far from one single name that stands out," he said. "It's extremely diverse in how people gravitate towards superstars. So, I think it's a nice parallel to the movie business. As a young man, I looked forward to the people who sold tickets. I wasn't a jaded movie buff who liked the really art house-y stuff or collected stuff, not that any of that's bad, either, but I liked the good guys in wrestling, I liked the stars in Hollywood."
In Bumblebee, Cena didn't get too much time to reveal his character's heroes as his role as an intense soldier took centerstage. Themes of the era which raised the actor were ever-present, though. Still, he admits he is growing and learning, even today. "Knowing that we were kind of taking the [Transformers] franchise in a little bit of a different direction and knowing that the movie was gonna be different, I think all of those things get you anxious," Cena said. "But I think the goal of any movie, regardless of it's a franchise, an origin tale, or a sequel, or the first one, you wanna do good all the time."
Cena's Bumblebee is now playing in theaters.