“I want to make films that matter”: Dwayne Johnson Eyes to Put Dave Bautista Comparisons to Rest in Next A24 Movie With Brutal Transformation

The Smashing Machine offers Dwayne Johnson a chance to showcase his acting abilities beyond his action-hero image

Dwayne Johnson Dave Bautista


  • Dwayne Johnson is set to redefine his acting career with The Smashing Machine.
  • The first look of Johnson as Mark Kerr showcases a dramatic transformation, signaling his commitment.
  • The Smashing Machine directed by Benny Safdie and produced by A24, will delve into the life of MMA champion Mark Kerr
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At 52 years of age, Dwayne Johnson, aka The Rock, boasts of a mega-successful career spanning wrestling, acting, and various businesses. Starting off his acting career in 2001 with The Mummy Returns, the actor has ever since starred as the lead in various franchises and become the face of the action-combat genre. Additionally, among the many actors who have made such a transition from the WWE rings to the acting scene like Dave Bautista and John Cena, the Black Adam actor still commands a broader range.

Dwayne Johnson in a still from Fast Five | Universal Pictures
Dwayne Johnson in a still from Fast Five | Universal Pictures

In the latest leap, he intends to move much ahead in terms of acting prowess. Signed on to a biographical drama on the life of martial artist Mark Kerr, The Smashing Machine, the star just made a gargantuan move in transforming himself for a role, as evident from the just-released first looks. However, his intentions lie even bigger.

Why Dwayne Johnson is pouring his heart out for The Smashing Machine

Dwayne Johnson as Michael Kerr in The Smashing Machine | A24 (via Discussing Film on X)
Dwayne Johnson as Michael Kerr in The Smashing Machine | A24 (via Discussing Film on X)

The Internet went into overdrive as the first official look of Dwayne Johnson as the fictional version of Mark Kerr emerged. Ripped and appearing almost unrecognizable yet determined with facial prosthetics, hair, and even a staple hairstyle, the actor seemed set for action with a fierce look in his eyes. As for the reason behind his dedication to the move, the Rock told Variety that he wishes to “push” himself in ways that he has never done before and “make films that matter”.


 I’m at a point in my career where I want to push myself in ways that I’ve not pushed myself in the past. I’m at a point in my career where I want to make films that matter, that explore a humanity and explore struggle [and] pain.

In order to get fit for the role, the San Andreas actor focused on intense physical conditioning. Working on building strength, agility, and endurance and thereafter, learning to encase himself in Kerr’s powerful build and fighting style, he left no stone unturned. Finally, from studying interviews and documentaries about the MMA fighter to understanding his struggles, he dedicated his heart and soul to the project.

Long looked upon as a traditional actor stereotyped for roles involving jungle and adventure, his latest venture might just have him move past all of it. Furthermore, the role may also help propel him into showcasing his acting masterclass and receive acclaim similar to what Dave Bautista has received lately for his stint in Dune: Part Two.

The plot and inspiration behind the A24 movie

Dwayne Johnson as Black Adam | DC Studios
Dwayne Johnson as Black Adam | DC Studios

Produced by A24, The Smashing Machine will mark the directorial debut of Oppenheimer actor Benny Safdie. Moreover, it will also star Emily Blunt, Lyndsey Gavin, Oleksandr Usyk, and Ryan Bader. Revolving around the life and rise of the former MMA/UFC champion, Mark Kerr, the film’s title is a direct reference to his nickname.


Encouraged by Blunt to direct the movie, Safdie settled on Dwayne Johnson after first getting to know each other in 2019. The storyline of the flick will revolve around the battles faced by the martial artist both inside and outside the ring, ranging from his training and wins to his opioid addiction and personal life.

In addition to this, the actor also opened up about the director wanting to “push the envelope” and tell “raw and real” stories. In many ways, the upcoming film will give The Rock plenty of room to showcase his acting abilities and move on with more such roles in the future.



The Smashing Machine is currently in production and eyes a 2025 release date.


Written by Imteshal Karim

Articles Published: 119

Bearing a penchant for writing in multiple forms, I love telling a good story and hope to tell impactful ones about the fandom's side of the Entertainment industry. I found the movie of my life in Christopher Nolan's 2014' s Interstellar, which fascinated me with the perfect blend of science and cinema, leaving me curious about Hollywood. In my leisure time, you will find me indulging in photography, gardening, and cycling.