LOS ANGELES — These days, the Rock is full of crap. Or at least, he tends to be stepping in it.
Making his next movie, the pro-wrestler-turned-action-hero has been spending as much time dodging bulls — and their manure — as trading punch lines with Seann William Scott.
"This is supposed to simulate the Amazon," the Rock explained, pointing to an area on the set filled with jungle-like greenery and the aforementioned cattle. "The set decorators, they just did an incredible job. I mean all this was actually built from nothing ... So that smell is actually bull sh--." (Click for photos from the set of "Helldorado.")
The movie currently being called "Helldorado" (the title may change before its September release) is the Rock's first film after last year's "The Scorpion King" (see "Rating The Rock As 'The Scorpion King' ") established him as a bona fide action star at the box office, if not with critics. "Helldorado" is an action/buddy flick, with Scott as the Rock's, well, buddy, and Christopher Walken ("Catch Me If You Can") as the big bad guy.
"My character, Beck, is a dark guy, [a] complex character ready to get out of the [bounty hunter] business," the Rock revealed. "He wants to open, of all things, a restaurant."
Agreeing to one last job, Beck travels to South America in search of Scott's character, an alleged "hardened criminal" who turns out to be just a kid looking for a 500-year-old artifact. The two team up and look for the valuable item in a gold mine set up by corporate meanie Walken. Rosario Dawson ("Men in Black II") is in the mix as well, as a woman who has her own agenda for the missing object.
"It's one of the most oddly cast, crazily done-up movies I've ever worked on," Dawson said. "I remember when they told me who is in it ... I was like, 'Who was on crack when they put that together?' [But] it really, amazingly, works really well."
For Scott, best known as Steve Stifler in the "American Pie" comedies, "Helldorado" is another chance to try his hand at action, having already wrapped the martial arts/ comic book flick "Bulletproof Monk" alongside Chow Yun-Fat ("Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon") (see "Seann William Scott Talks 'Bulletproof Monk' "). Though he admits his archeology-school dropout in "Helldorado" isn't "supposed to be John Rambo," his character is still a far cry from Stifler.
"I really enjoyed doing 'American Pie,' we're actually going to do another one," he said. "But [this] is fun because I like being physical and it's good being able to play a character that's a little bit older and that's a little bit smarter."
"He is holding his own pretty good," the Rock reported. "He really wants to make that transition form being just 'Stifler from "American Pie" ' to branching off and extending that. And he's done that in 'Bulletproof Monk' with Chow Yun-Fat and here, with this."
"If you look at 'American Pie,' at the poster, he doesn't even get a credit in that movie," "Helldorado" director Peter Berg ("Very Bad Things") pointed out. "And he'll admit that his whole strategy was to come in to that movie and steal every scene from every other actor. And now look at him. The guy is like the star of the next one, and he is fun to watch. I think his attitude is, 'If you don't watch out, I will steal this movie right out from under you.' And Rock is equally as smart and equally as alpha male."
Scott admits he had no idea what to expect from the Rock. "I had never really watched wrestling for a long time, kind of since Hulk Hogan and Jimmy 'Superfly' Snuka. But I saw him on 'Larry King Live' before I decided to do the movie and he was just, he's so funny, and so nice and so smart. I thought we had a lot in common. We had a similar work ethic and then we started hanging out and it was great. He is an athlete and I grew up playing sports. And we both know how we are and both realize that this is a big opportunity for us to do something different and have a lot of fun. And I hope ['Helldorado'] does well enough so we can do another one, because I love working with him."
— Ryan J. Downey, with additional reporting by Nick Zano