Inside The Rock's new movie, ''The Rundown'' -- Sure, Arnold Schwarzenegger makes a cameo, but that's just the beginning of the adventure
In ”The Rundown,” Beck (Dwayne ”The Rock” Johnson) braves the Amazon jungle to retrieve the scheming adventurer Travis (Seann William Scott). Along the way he encounters sex-crazed baboons, bloodthirsty thieves, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. And that’s exactly what the cast and crew stumbled across while the cameras weren’t running. Here’s the inside scoop on what monkeys love, Christopher Walken’s grand scam, and why The Rock still isn’t sure he’s voting for Arnold.
THE GOVERNATOR Blink and you’ll miss him, but Arnold Schwarzenegger pops up in the film just before the bodies start flying. The gubernatorial candidate’s cameo wasn’t an attempt to pass off his action hero mantle to The Rock, however. ”There were so many comparisons between the two of us, which were flattering, but I never thought he should be in the movie or anything,” says Johnson, who had invited the fellow Republican to lunch on the set. But director Peter Berg (”Very Bad Things”) quickly recruited the star to walk through the nightclub scene shooting that afternoon. Arnold turned out to be cheap labor. ”He did it for SAG minimum,” says Berg. ”Legally, he couldn’t do it for free.” But at least he won some votes, right? ”I already know a favor’s coming in, but we’ll have to wait and see,” says Johnson. Tough crowd.
MONKEYING AROUND The appeal of The Rock knows no barriers — even when it comes to species. In one scene, Johnson and Scott are accosted by angry baboons. ”We actually had monkey rehearsals,” says Scott. ”And one of the monkeys got a little fresh with The Rock while we were shooting.” Fresh? ”There was a teenager monkey who was always semi-erect, and it was really weird,” says Johnson. ”But all of the monkeys, they loved The Rock. They smelled it.” Ew.
WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE The lush jungle of ”The Rundown” looks convincing, but the filmmakers re-created the Amazon rainforest in Hawaii after a Brazilian location shoot nearly turned deadly. ”We were getting a tour from the film commission, and three guys with handguns robbed us,” says Berg, who handed over computers, film equipment, and plenty of cash. ”Because they were so brash and didn’t hide their faces, we thought, Doesn’t that mean they’re going to kill us? But the big thing there is kidnapping, so once they found out there was no easy phone call to make to get more money, they let us go. I mean, they’re not going to call [Universal Chairman] Stacy Snider.” And who wants to bargain with a studio head anyway?
HEAD OVER HEELS Running from bad guys, Beck and Travis tumble down a cliff and flop against rocks and branches like broken rag dolls. The terrifying scene, performed by stunt doubles instead of dummies, was just as dangerous as it looked. ”Seann’s double landed on his head and continued the fall unconscious. By the time he got all the way down we thought he was dead,” says Johnson. Though the double survived (and shot five more takes), The Rock’s double, his cousin Tanoai Reed, shattered an ankle.
WALKEN TALL Apparently the heat started to get to Christopher Walken, who plays a crazed town owner. Scott noted the actor looking glum and asked what was wrong. ”Chris said, ‘Well, it’s my birthday, and I’m in Los Angeles all by myself.’ And I’m telling him how sorry I am, when he says, ‘I’m just kidding! It’s not my birthday. I do this on every movie. Two weeks from now I’ll do this and I guarantee by noon I’ll get a cake.”’
FAIRY TALE One of the most memorable scenes in the film involves Walken ranting about the Tooth Fairy to a group of befuddled Brazilians. But the monologue wasn’t what was originally scripted. ”I had written a speech about Winnie the Pooh, and Chris loved it,” says Berg. ”In it he said, ‘I feel like Rabbit. Pooh ate all his honey, broke all the furniture, and he got his big fat ass stuck in Rabbit’s window. And right now I’m seeing Pooh’s big fat ass in my window, and I want it out!’ It was really funny, but we got a call from Universal legal basically saying, ‘Are you out of your mind?”’ Luckily no one owns the Tooth Fairy. Yet.