Mike Mizanin has had an interesting journey to his stardom in World Wrestling Entertainment. In Vince McMahon’s world, he goes by The Miz and has dubbed himself ‘The Awesome One’, while going toe-to-toe with The Rock, John Cena, and most recently Brock Lesnar. The former reality star trades in his tights and boots for a much more rugged look with The Marine 3: Homefront, the second sequel in the WWE Films franchise. The Miz plays Sergeant Jake Carter, who’s just returned home in time for some bank robbers (led by Neal McDonough) to kidnap his sister. Firefights and gunshots ensue, but no Skull Crushing Finales were present.
I was lucky enough to sit down with The Miz and discuss the transition from the ring to film, his favorite WWE moments, and the often vile hatred he gets from the IWC (Internet Wrestling Community) for no other reason other than he’s a former reality star.
Night in and night out, you receive pure hatred from wrestling fans, particularly the IWC. How do you prepare for that when you step out to the ring?
Since the beginning, when someone would tell me I couldn’t do something, I’ve always had the power and the will to say ‘I’m going to prove them wrong.’ I love the IWC, I love the fans that hate and tell me ‘it’s a disgrace that Miz is giving the Figure Four, he should roll over and die. He can’t wrestle. He’s horrible.’ I love those because I love proving them wrong and it makes me work harder to prove them wrong so I get accepted. As much as I love having all the confidence in the world and as much as I love saying ‘I’m awesome’, I love being accepted, but I love the hard times to try to get accepted. I love the ride. I’m glad that when I first came to WWE everyone hated me, and to this day I know now, more than ever, I will never please everyone. I’ll always try, but no matter how hard I do it, it’ll never be good enough.
In WWE, you’re putting on mini-action movies every week, but it’s live and no mistakes. What were the big differences in coming over to the world of movies?
You get forty-five takes! When you do WWE, you’re in front of sixteen thousand people live and you can’t mess up. If you do, guess what? They’re going to boo you, chant ‘you suck’ for three minutes, and they’ll let you know you’ve screwed up. When you’re in a movie and you flub a line, you can just go right over it. On a movie, if you screw up a line, you can just go right over it, and forty-five takes later you can get it. But then you get to play with it. You get to figure out what does work and what doesn’t. With WWE, you get one chance only to make it the best it can possibly be, which adds a lot of pressure, but I like that pressure.
How much preparation time do you have in the WWE before the show starts?
Sometimes zero. Sometimes you’re getting handed what you’re doing ten minutes before you’re going out. But that’s what I love, that’s the pressure. That’s where you find out where true talent lies, and why certain people are put in certain situations, and why others aren’t. Sometimes you’ll go, you’ll see the IWC, you’ll see the critics say ‘why is this guy always getting this? Why is this person getting that? This person shouldn’t have this. That absolutely sucked, or this, this, this.’ There’s reasons that people are put in situations, because of the writers, from production,Vince McMahon, Hunter, all the people that work around it, those are the people that you can trust. They know that whatever they throw at you, you’re going to succeed. Everything I’ve done isn’t the best gem in the world, but you know I’m going to go out there and give it my all, you know I’m going to give it one-hundred percent no matter what. I’m not going to give up, I’m not going to stop until it’s great.
What are some of your favorite WWE moments? As a fan of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, I imagine working with him was one.
I love working with The Rock. My favorite stuff was the dark match stuff. After shows we do this dark stuff, and The Rock would always want me to do it with him. That was just a huge compliment you know, to just be able to go out there and verbally argue with The Rock, and let The Rock be The Rock, because that’s what I grew up loving. The reason why I wanted to become a WWE Superstar was because of The Rock. When I was first coming off the “The Real World” and I was sitting at home, I looked in the mirror and said ‘What do you want to do with your life now?’ and sitting there was an action figure of The Rock and I was like ‘I’m going to do it.’
For The Marine 3, did you have any weapons or combat training?
I had marines come to set so I could be as authentic as I possibly could. I’ve been to Iraq, I’ve been to Afghanistan, I’ve been to Bahrain. I’ve seen our soldiers getting ready for battle and preparing, and what their daily life is. Those are the people I really wanted to impress, those are the people I really wanted to make proud. If I’m being called a ‘marine’, I want to hold a gun like a marine, I want to walk into a battle station where if I’m going into battle, I want my mentality to be exactly what theirs would be. That’s why the fight scenes are gritty, they’re real, they’re raw and they’re not martial arts. Not putting that stuff in there I think is what brings it true to a marine.
WWE does an annual ‘Tribute to the Troops’, and were there any stories you heard that might’ve inspired you for this role, or that you used in preparation for the role.
I always love those feel good stories. The stories I bring back from Iraq and Afghanistan, some are shock. One time I was at a camp that didn’t have any running water, and these kids stay there for six months. They were driving in this armored vehicle, and this armored vehicle had this orange pole sticking out in front of it. I asked ‘what’s this orange pole for?’ and they told me ‘it blows up the landmines before it blows us up.’ I asked him ‘did that ever happen to you?’ and he said ‘yeah, it happened yesterday.’ It was like a normal conversation we were having and I was blown away by that. Not only that, but I was on a ship in Bahrain, and I asked this guy ‘Why did you want to join the Navy?’ He was like ‘Well, my wife got pregnant and I was working and Lids, and I realized I didn’t want my daughter to bring me to third grade talking about my job. I wanted her to be proud and do something noble, and so I joined the Naval Academy.’ What a great story that is, just to make his daughter proud and I guarantee you he will.
What was the most physically demanding scene in this movie for you?
Physically demanding would be the longest fight scene we had. It was the second day of shooting. It was six hours long, and the guy I was doing the fight scene with told me ‘this will only take six hours.’ I was like ‘sweet! Let’s do it!’ The first scene is he kicks the door in, and in order for it to work, I have to basically stop the door with my toe, and kind of use it to knock be back. I’m getting ready for this fight scene, I’m getting ready to go, I’ve got the gun, and it’s the big long fight scene. So I go in there, and this guy kicks the door, it lands on my foot and I swear to you, I’ve never felt so much pain before in my life. The shock went through the boot into my big toe, and I’ve been hit with kendo sticks, with chairs, I’ve went through tables, slammed into guard rails, but I’ve never felt so much pain in my entire life. But I went through the entire scene without missing a step, and after it was over I ended up taking off my sock and there was my toenail, gone. I lost a toe nail on The Marine 3: Homefront. How terrible does that sound? It should be, I broke my arm, my shoulder got dis-attached, but I reattached it during the whole thing. I stubbed my toe, and lost a toe nail.
What hurt worse; getting beat down by Brock Lesnar, or your toe?
My stubbed toe!
The Marine 3: Homefront is out on DVD, Blu-ray, and Video On-Demand now.