In the history of professional wrestling, there are few names that are synonymous with “legend” that are not only recognized within the wrestling lexicon as icons, but appreciated throughout pop culture as a whole. Stone Cold Steve Austin is one of those names, and though he officially retired from in ring competition back in 2003, he’s been a mainstay of WWE history and remains in the forefront of the entertainment, even to kids that weren’t born during WWE’s biggest wrestling boom, the Attitude Era.
Even during his run as the Texas Rattlesnake, Austin dabbled in acting roles. Since his retirement, he’s gone on to star in many projects, most recently Sylvester Stallone’s hugely successful summer blockbuster, The Expendables. I got a chance to speak with Stone Cold about his upcoming film Hunt to Kill, on DVD and Blu-ray November 9, which also stars The Expendables’ Eric Roberts and Gary Daniels. In one of the most personally exciting interviews I’ve ever conducted, we discuss everything from The Expendables and filmmaking to Brock Lesnar, UFC, and the current state of the wrestling business.
CraveOnline: Steve, thanks a lot for letting us do this with you.
Steve Austin: You got it Joey, thank you.
CraveOnline: So first, congratulations on the success of The Expendables this summer, that’s got to feel really good.
Steve Austin: Yeah, it was a fun film to be a part of. You know, a big studio movie like that with Sly, obviously I grew up watching all of Sly’s movies and to work with him and have him direct you, it kind of gives you a heads up on a lot of things and man, I was taking notes every single day. I listened a lot, I watched a lot, and I learned a lot.
CraveOnline: That’s awesome! Why don’t you tell us a little bit about Hunt to Kill?
Steve Austin: Well, in this movie I’m a border patrol agent and I move from Texas to Montana and I’m trying to raise a girl on my own; a teenage girl. We don’t have the best of relationships. She gets picked up for shoplifting one day and there’s kind of a dual meeting there, with her at the Sherrif’s department and the bad guys who just pulled off a heist and are trying to find a loot of money that’s going up into Canada. So anyway, they hijack my daughter and get me to help guide them through the mountains to help find what they are looking for.
CraveOnline: That sounds cool, what initially led you to the role and how did you get involved?
Steve Austin: Well, I enjoyed the relationship about a guy trying to really reach his daughter. From a father/daughter standpoint. Having been so many years on the road, I can identify with that, you know with my kids. As far as the outdoors goes, I mean this movie was basically filmed in a rainforest in Vancouver and I love being outdoors. So, I enjoyed the story, I liked what it was about, and I love being outdoors so for me it was an amazing fit.
CraveOnline: Now, Hunt to Kill reunites yourself with Gary Daniels and Eric Roberts who were also in The Expendables with you. Is that coincidence or is this something where you guys wanted to work on a new project together?
Steve Austin: You know what? We were looking for my partner, someone that could just come in and play that part real quickly, and I hit it off so well with Eric on The Expendables that man, I asked him, “Eric could you do me a favor and come up here and do this movie?” and he goes, “Absolutely, for you Steve.”
Steve Austin: And so, it was perfect for the role. And then I think we were actually trying to find an MMA guy to play the part that Gary Daniels ended up playing. The guy was battling some injuries and stuff like that, training for a fight, and they were looking for another guy, I said “Hey man, I know Gary Daniels who was on The Expendables who did a damn good job, and he’s an excellent fighter.” So I just gave Gary a call and he was just wrapping a movie up there in Detroit, and basically he just flew home to LA one day and then flew back out to Vancouver and did the movie. It was fun to work with Gary because we hit it off on the set of The Expendables, we were on the same team. As far as martial artists, you can’t find a better one than him.
CraveOnline: That’s awesome. Well hopefully the success of The Expendables will help out Hunt to Kill with all of you guys getting back together.
Steve Austin: Yeah, you know anytime you can get any kind of help you can get, man, it’s a bonus.
CraveOnline: Exactly. Now, speaking of promoting the film, are there any plans in the works for a guest hosting spot on Monday Night Raw?
Steve Austin: Man, I haven’t talked with anybody about that. I mean, I’ve been hearing rumors all of a sudden that I’m supposed to appear on Raw or something or other, or a Wrestlemania XXVII thing, and I don’t know anything about it. I haven’t talked with anybody from the WWE. On the 10th of November I’m fixed to head to Vancouver to start another movie, so I don’t think it’s going to happen, and I haven’t had talks of anything happening either.
CraveOnline: What movie are you starting, what’s next for you?
Steve Austin: It’s a SWAT team movie, called Hangar 14. I’m going to be joined by Michael Jai White and Keith Jardine, they’re a couple of guys that are going to be in the film with me.
CraveOnline: Oh wow, awesome.
Steve Austin: I met Michael a couple of years ago and I’ve never met Keith, but I’m a big fan of both guys. Obviously both guys are highly skilled fighters, so I’m looking forward to working with both of them.
CraveOnline: Do you follow MMA regularly?
Steve Austin: Oh man, I get every UFC Pay Per View there is.
CraveOnline: What’d you think of Brock’s loss?
Steve Austin: It was... man, Brock, I know him from my WWE days. Of course I was cheering for Brock. I think Cain had a great game plan and Cain’s a great fighter. You know, he took it to Brock. But I think the kind of gifted athlete that Brock is and the kind of mindset that he has, I think he’s going to go back home, I think he’s going to work on his striking game, I think he’s going to get used to being hit, and I think he’s going to come back and be stronger than ever. Now he’s got some proving to do. I’ll always bet on Brock Lesnar, he’s a great Pay Per View attraction, and he’s good for the sport. He’ll be back, and he’ll be a lot better of a fighter from this loss.
CraveOnline: I agree, he’s definitely elevated UFC to a whole new level of popularity, I think.
Steve Austin: And they’ve been good for each other. I mean, UFC has been good for him and he’s been good for it. But Brock’s a very competitive, driven, and focused guy. He’s going to go home and work on his striking and he’ll be back.
CraveOnline: You were inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame a couple of years back; do you keep up with the current product?
Steve Austin: Man, I try to. I hardly watch any TV anymore.
CraveOnline: [laughs] I hear that!
Steve Austin: I’ll flip back and forth every now and again. I’ll catch some of WWE, some of TNA, it’s just a whole different ballgame than I was in. It’s a different product.
CraveOnline: Yeah. Do you have any thoughts on TNA in general?
Steve Austin: I watch their Reaction show, and I like the shoot style promos they do on that show. It’s different, it’s not so pre-fabricated, you know, they’re shoot promos and I enjoy that. They feel raw, they feel real.
CraveOnline: It’s definitely, I think, kind of a unique idea in today’s professional wrestling product, and it’s exclusive to TNA.
Steve Austin: Well you know, it goes back to what it was before. That’s the ability to learn to cut a promo and you’re coming from your heart, your guts, your brain. There’s that story you’ve got to tell, but promos have to be real, they can’t be fabricated. You have to believe in them. When you’re not trying to memorize something, you can believe what you’re saying. That’s the fashion that I cut mine as Stone Cold. I believed every word I said 110%. That’s just the way it was.
CraveOnline: It definitely came across.
Steve Austin: Well, I’m still working on that in the movies [laughs]
Steve Austin: If I can get closer to that I’ll be okay.
CraveOnline: Well that’s an interesting point actually, movies are obviously scripted. You were just talking about the whole shoot style of promos. Is that a difficult thing for you to adapt to?
Steve Austin: Well, you know what? It’s just different. When I first started in the wrestling business, I wasn’t such a good promo. But then I turned into a real good one. I’m not going to say that I’m going to start winning Academy Awards or anything like that, but now with this next role, I’ve been working with Sly, I’ve got a different mindset, I’m ready for this new movie to start because I want to take what I learned from The Expendables to this set. To live more in that character and just be more relaxed and be that guy, instead of being the guy that’s trying to remember lines. There’s a big difference. But you know, I’m figuring it out and I don’t think that you get good at anything by doing it every now and then. The more you do it, the better you’re going to get. That’s what I believe.
CraveOnline: That’s absolutely true. Well Steve, thanks so much, we really appreciate it and it’s been a pleasure talking with you. Best of luck with everything.
Steve Austin: You got it man, thank you.