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What to know about The Rock's 'The Smashing Machine' movie

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Get ready to see Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson like never before. 

Johnson has left his mark across a wide variety of platforms. He was a football star at Miami in college before making a name for himself as “The Rock” in pro wrestling. He then exited the ring and entered the studio, getting a taste of acting.

While Johnson had crossover between his interests — “The Game Plan”, anyone? — all of his films have been of the lighthearted genre. Johnson typically takes on comedic roles, or sometimes he is the voice of an animated character. 

Now, fans get to see Johnson dive into the serious side. He is set to star in A24 studio’s upcoming film titled, “The Smashing Machine.” The film is set to dive into the life of former wrestler/mixed martial arts fighter Mark Kerr. 

The movie is currently in the middle of filming and a release date has not been tied to it yet. However, A24 did give fans a bit of a teaser on May 21, dropping a still shot of Johnson in his role as Kerr. 

MORE: Why is Dwayne Johnson called ‘The Rock’? Everything to know about wrestler’s nickname

Here is more to know about the film and Johnson’s role:

“The Rock” plays the role of Mark Kerr, a former mixed martial arts fighter and wrestler. 

There are ties between Johnson and the character he is playing in the film. Both come from wrestling backgrounds and were involved with combat sports. While Johnson stayed on the side of pro wrestling, Kerr was much more interested in MMA. 

Johnson detailed his reasons for joining the movie in an interview with Variety, stating that he wants to “push” himself more in his acting career. 

“[Director Benny Safdie] wants to create, and continues to push the envelope when it comes to stories that are raw and real, characters that are authentic and at times uncomfortable and arresting,” Johnson said. “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.”

“The Smashing Machine” tells the story of Mark Kerr, a former wrestler and MMA fighter who battled addiction during his rise to fame. The film also details the rocky relationship with Kerr’s wife, Dawn Staples. 

Actress Emily Blunt is reportedly set to star as Staples, while actress Lyndsey Gavin is also confirmed to hold a role. 

For fans of combat sports, a number of current and former fighters are set to play a part in the film. Bas Rutten, a former UFC fighter-turned-actor, is going to play a younger version of himself in the movie. In addition, current undisputed heavyweight boxer Oleksandr Usyk and current Bellator heavyweight champion Ryan Bader are on the cast list as well. 

Kerr is a former wrestler and mixed martial arts fighter. He wrestled at Syracuse University in college, where he was a NCAA Division I champion at 190 pounds in 1992.

After college, Kerr represented the United States in freestyle wrestling. He won gold and silver medals at the Wrestling World Cup and silver at the Pan American Games. He also participated in submission wrestling, where Kerr is a four-time ADCC World Champion. He emerged victorious out of his weight class twice, along with the absolute division and the Superfight Championship.

Kerr was friends and training partners with Mark Coleman, a former wrestler that got into the world of mixed martial arts. He helped introduce Kerr into the sport of MMA, which was not nearly as popular as it is now. After fighting in the World Vale Tudo Championship, Kerr was invited to the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) in 1997. 

In the UFC, Kerr was a two-time tournament champion, winning back-to-back competitions in 1997. Due to a contract dispute with the UFC, he left the organization for PRIDE, a Japanese-based promotion that was one of the most popular in the world.

With PRIDE, the legend of Kerr grew. He was known for his aggressive style, throwing caution to the wind to either knock out his opponent, or be finished himself. In 26 career MMA fights, only four went beyond the first round, and he finished his career with a record of 15-11. 

“The Smashing Machine” is based loosely on the life and career of Kerr. 

The focus of the movie is reportedly set to be on Kerr’s battles both in and outside the ring in the year 2000. The film will detail his training and fights, while also zeroing in on his troubles with addiction and his relationship with his wife. 

Some of the details of the film may be exaggerated for effect, but the premise of the story is expected to be closely related to the real-life events in Kerr’s career. 

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