Michael Bay Stopped Dwayne Johnson

Michael Bay opens up about how he stopped Dwayne Johnson from quitting Pain & Gain a week before production was to start on the biographical comedy. The 2013 film was based on the real story of ex-convicts and bodybuilders working at the Sun Gym in Miami, Florida in the ’90s who concoct a plan to kidnap, torture and extort their wealthier clients into transferring all of their assets to the group. Pain & Gain was primarily adapted from a series of Miami New Times articles that were later compiled for a book of the same name. Mark Wahlberg led the cast of Pain & Gain as gang leader Daniel Lugo alongside Dwayne Johnson as an amalgam of multiple people, Anthony Mackie, Tony Shaloub, Ed Harris, Rob Corddry, Rebel Wilson, Ken Jeong and Bar Paly. Directed by Bay on a script from Captain America writing duo Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, the film debuted to generally mixed reviews from critics, with the cast and script receiving praise while criticism was directed towards Bay’s overstylized direction and various historical inaccuracies. Despite the cast receiving praise for their roles, one star nearly almost backed out at the last moment for Pain & Gain. While speaking with CinemaBlend for the release of his latest action-thriller Ambulance, Michael Bay reflected on his time working on Pain & Gain. The director recalled how Dwayne Johnson had actually quit the film shortly before filming and revealed how he brought the star back to the project. See what Bay shared below:

Though Bay’s films generally receive mixed-to-negative reviews from critics, he is well-known for putting together stories audiences tend to love, or at the very least turn up to at the theater. With Johnson still having been in the early stages of his resurgence as a leading man in Hollywood at the time of Pain & Gain’s production, having starred in the critical and commercial hit Fast Five as well as modest box office performers G.I. Joe: Retaliation and Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, it’s understandable he would be hesitant to want to star in the action comedy. Additionally, given his character in the film was not only an amalgam of multiple real people, but also one that required a goofier and more emotional persona than he had embodied up to that point, it was going to be more of a challenge than previous efforts.

While Pain & Gain may have received mixed reviews from critics and audiences at the time of release, Johnson’s performance has consistently been viewed as one of the better elements of the film as it has developed a small cult following in the past decade. Additionally, it also set a proper path for Johnson to tackle a better range of roles outside of his normal action star persona, including a similarly goofy CIA agent in Central Intelligence and a teenager trapped in an adventurer’s body for the recent Jumanji movies. Those who haven’t seen Pain & Gain or want to revisit Johnson’s performance can catch up with the film streaming on Paramount+ now.



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