Grade ‘A’ Fight Scenes: Steve Austin on The Package

The action star on his new film with Dolph Lundgren, going comedy with Grown Ups 2 and The Rock's return to WWE.

Fred Topelby Fred Topel

North Hollywood moviegoers got a taste of Stone Cold Steve Austin this weekend. His latest film, The Package, had a theatrical run at the Laemmle North Hollywood cinema and Austin came to the 7:10 PM show for a Q&A. In the film Austin plays a collector for Big Doug assigned to deliver a package to The German (Dolph Lundgren). As the movie  ran, we sat with Austin in the inventory room of the theater, behind the soda fountain syrups and freezer, to talk about Austin’s movie career.

Watch the trailer for The Package, starring Steve Austin and Dolph Lundgren.

The Package is on DVD and Blu-ray February 19, 2013.

CraveOnline: Do you think now that you’ve transitioned to movies for a while now, the audience knowns what to expect out of a Steve Austin movie?

Steve Austin: Yeah, I think they do. I don’t think they’re looking for a Daniel Day-Lewis Type experience, a guy with wonderful range. He does what he does. He’s able to morph into anything. I think when you go to a Steve Austin movie, you’re going to a Steve Austin movie.

But I meant even in terms of action, they know what you do and they know what level you bring to it?

I think so. I think so, which is good for me. I’d like to eventually do many other things, in the vein of comedy or dramatic roles, but I enjoy the action and I think that is what a big part of my core fan base does expect.

Don’t you have a role in Grown Ups 2 coming up?

Yeah, man, I was so excited about that. I went over and got a chance to talk to Adam Sandler about that script and Dennis Dugan, the director. They invited me on board. It’s fun to work with Adam a second time. I got a chance to work with him [on The Longest Yard]. He’s one of the nicest guys and the funniest guys I’ve met out here in this town. I just had an ACL and a BCL replaced in my left knee a month prior to them filming this, so I didn’t know if I was going to be able to even walk during the filming of the movie. We took a chance. Adam took a chance on me that I’d be able to pull it off and I put my leg brace on underneath my jeans and was able to go out there and deliver some really good comedy that I’m really excited about because in my personal life, I’d rather laugh my head off all day than try to be a tough guy. So I’m a big comedy fan and working with him was another thrill.

What crazy stuff does he have you doing in Grown Ups 2?

You gotta see the movie. You gotta see the movie. I don’t want to give anything away. I’m really excited about it. I’m not a major part in the movie but it’s a great role. All of my scenes are with Adam and it couldn’t have been better for me.

Was The Package a chance to play more of a gentleman tough guy wearing a suit?

That was [director] Jesse Johnson’s vision of this character, and I was glad to do that, stretch out a little bit. I don’t wear too many nice clothes in my personal life so the fact that I got a chance to even just dress the part in this movie was something out of the box. That’s not a big statement for anybody else, but it was out of the box for me. I do clean up halfway decently so it was his take on things, his vision. It worked.

Doesn’t it actually make you a little more intimidating when you’re well dressed but we know you can kick some ass?

Yeah, I guess, I guess. I thought it was a good call by Jesse.

I don’t recall specifically if you had much 1:1 with Dolph in The Expendables. Was it nice to have some 1:1 with him in The Package?

I enjoyed Dolph and I enjoyed meeting him when we did The Expendables, but I was looking forward to having a real big scene. Sly wrote a one page monologue when I was trying to recruit Dolph’s character onto our side and we didn’t end up shooting it, but Sly had written it. Man, I had memorized it, had worked over it many, many times so I was looking forward to doing the scene with Dolph because I’m a big fan of his going back from the early dies, from the Rocky franchise. I wanted Sly to be hands on and help me deliver that thing. It never happened but nonetheless I still have the page that he wrote for me. So anyway, fast forward back into the package and I am a big Dolph fan and it was great to work with him on this level and I’d like to work with the guy in the future again on a project specifically written for myself and him.

Would you like play partners, on the same team in another movie?

I think that would be interesting. You have two pretty dynamic individuals with very diverse backgrounds but a lot of common threads and the physicality that we bring to the screen. I enjoy talking with Dolph and hanging out with him and I think there’d be a lot of chemistry there, a lot of stuff that you can do that I would like to do.

What were some of the difficult fight scenes in The Package?

Well, nothing really difficult. Sometimes you run into trying to get a lot done without a lot of time, and that’s very challenging. When you’re running short on time, it makes things pretty difficult when a lot of times you don’t have as much rehearsal time as you’d like. Moving forward with these next two pictures that we’re going to do with Anchor Bay, I’m excited about these because I am helping produce these through Broken Skull Ranch Productions so I’ll be able to be more hands on and have a lot more say in how this final product is delivered. Building in the proper rehearsal time and all the stuff to be able to execute Grade “A” fight scenes is very important to me and something that we’ll really be able to focus on in the future.

How will you accomplish that? Will you have to bring the budget down in other areas to give yourself time for those rehearsals?

Well, I think it’s all about going through the script, picking your moments that you really want to focus on and focus specifically on those areas, rather than spreading the stuff out just in a linear fashion to take up 90 minutes. I just think there’s a better way to go about the process. I want to be a little bit more hands on and I will be in picking those moments and focusing where we’re going to do what we’re going to do.

Are you looking for new directors, or some of the directors you’ve already worked with?

Both. I want to work with people that can help elevate me. Like anything you do in life, when I worked with Sly on The Expendables, man, to watch that guy direct… I’m a big fan of his. I’ve seen every movie he’s done, but to watch him work behind the scenes as a director is very impressive because the way the guy operates, he knows what the hell he’s talking about. On Grown Ups 2, working with Denis Dugan and Sandler. Man, they were right there every single scene. Of course I’m in the scene with Sandler, but he’s also directing alongside with Dugan. When you work with people that are better than you and have been around the process for a long ass time, it helps you elevate your came. I can be elevated. When I’m with people that are better than me, I can elevate. It’s just like anything in life. The better people you work with, the better you can be. I want to work with a couple of the same guys, but obviously work with other people as well.

You mention Stallone and Dugan, but even Keoni Waxman, with whom you did two movies, has lots of experience with the Steven Segal movies.

I enjoyed working with Ke and I enjoyed working with him on Hunt to Kill. I thought he did a great job with that.

How about the bowling ball interrogation in The Package, did that seem like a cool scene to you?

Yeah, it was. When I watched it back, first of all, I’ve never seen the inner workings of a ball return machine. In the interest of saving a little time, I might’ve had a closeup on 10 pins and shown the impact of that bowling ball slamming into that lead pin. I’m rethinking the thing now, but I enjoyed it. I thought it was pretty damn effective.

Has it been a natural transition to start out your movie career in some ensembles like The Longest Yard, The Expendables and The Condemned and transition into more leading roles where you’re the center of the movie?

I like that because that’s the spot that I like to be in. Again, in those other ventures, working with seasoned people that have been around a few times and are veterans could help elevate you and there’s obviously that built in safety net of all that star power. But I like being number one, number two, number three. I like being that guy, but that being said, I’m wide open to taking on any role in any project, but I like being the lead guy.

Is there a reason you’re not still making movies with WWE Studios?

No, you know what? We did The Condemned back in the day and that was a three-picture deal. I think The Condemned, man, if you just look for a damn good action movie, I’m pretty biased. I did the movie. I loved it. It was one of my favorites. It had a great budget to work with and Scott Wiper did a tremendous job with that movie from a director’s standpoint I thought. It followed two turds, The Marine and See No Evil, whatever it’s called. It didn’t do great at the box office. It kicked ass on DVD. It wasn’t a movie the critics liked worth a sh*t but the people on the street, regular people, working class peopled loved it. Still, USA plays the damn thing it seems like every other week, so man, it was a damn good movie, but to answer your question, my contract expired with the WWE back in the day. This is only my speculation that it really didn’t behoove them to be in the Steve Austin business. They were more so involved in the Stone Cold Steve Austin business. What happened to two and three? Their option, on them.

The Miz is making his starring debut in The Marine 3. Would you talk a little trash about The Miz getting into movies?

Well, it’s going to be interesting to see how he does. He has Scott Wiper working with him and I think because Scott’s been through the process with those guys before, I think it made the process a lot easier for him. Scott knew from working with me and communicating with me what he was getting in The Miz. I spoke highly about The Miz as far as him being a good person and taking directions and giving it his all. To see what kind of performance Scott got out of him would be another thing when we see the movie, but I wish Miz all the best in the world. When a guy can come out of the ring and make some money without taking bumps and getting hit in the head with a steel chair, it’s a good day at the office and a great experience. To get paid to go hang out for 30 days and shoot a movie is not something that everybody can say they did. So I’m happy for The Miz and I’m happy really for any of the people who come from that world of sports entertainment, or as I say, professional wrestling, and get a chance to make movies.

So you kept in touch with Scott?

Oh yeah, Scott just lives in Venice. I live in Marina del Rey so we’re a stone’s throw from each other. We’ve been trying to hook up and have dinner, but he’s always doing something and I’m a homebody so we haven’t hooked up yet, but we stay in touch.

In the two movies you’re developing next, are you thinking about any franchise characters, someone you can establish for several movies?

I’d like to. I’d like to do something like that. Hell, I thought there was a chance to do something with The Condemned. Didn’t happen, but it all depends on the kind of material that we can generate or get our hands on, to try to see what we’ve got first and then go from there.

Do you have scripts for the next two?

We’ve got one and we’re going to shoot that. I think we’re going to try to shoot that in July. I think we’re going to do another season of “Redneck Island” in mid-April which I love, and I think by that time as well I’m seven months out from ACL/BCL surgery. That’s coming along outstanding so I’ll be in full running, shooting, stomping, kicking ass mode.

How did you hurt your ACL?

Oh, it was years of damage. It was kind of a surgery that was 26 years in the making. I’ve been functioning, doing all the stuff that I’ve done without an ACL or a BCL in my left knee because I tore ‘em many years ago. Then finally I had a recent knee injury where I tore the meniscus. All the stability in my knee was gone, so finally had to pay the piper for all the damage that I had done. I went in on July 2 and had a new ACL and a new BCL grafted in from donor tissue and here I am.

Are you still following the WWE?

I try to. I try to. It’s a whole different animal from when I was rockin’ and rollin’ in there. I watched the Royal Rumble to see what they’re going to head into Wrestlemania with because you know Wrestlemania is the big show and that’s big business and it’s going to be a big event there in New York, MetLife Stadium. So I don’t follow as much as I used to, but it is the world I come from. It is the world that I still love. It’s not a world that I’m currently a part of. I’ve gone down a different road but pro wrestling’s in my blood and it always will be.

Does The Rock coming back set a precedent that people like yourself could return to the ring even after a successful movie career?

No, Rock hasn’t set any precedents for Steve Austin in the wrestling business. I set the precedents in that business. He has done outstanding in the movie world but Stone Cold Steve Austin can go anywhere and everywhere he wants in that world and doesn’t need a precedent set by anybody. That being said, I take my hat off to Rock and for him to do what he’s doing. He’s a friend of mine and I respect him. 

Fred Topel is a staff writer at CraveOnline and the man behind The Shelf Space Awards. Follow him on Twitter at @FredTopel.