The Miz, WWE Superstar/”The Marine 3: Homefront”
Mike “The Miz” Mizanin has been a sensation in a variety of media genres. The Cleveland native made a splash as one of the breakout characters in MTV’s “The Real World: Back to New York” in 2001. On that show, he created a brash pro-wrestling alter ego called “The Miz” and aspired to become a member of the WWE.
In 2004, that dream became a reality as he became a contestant on WWE’s reality show “Tough Enough,” on which contestants trained to become professional wrestlers. He didn’t win the competition, but impressed enough people that he was offered a contract.
After years of success with the WWE, including a stint as WWE champion and a WrestleMania main-event program with stars (and fellow movie crossovers) John Cena and The Rock, The Miz is now tossing his own hat in the acting arena, taking the lead role in WWE Studios’ action sequel “The Marine 3: Homefront,” playing Jake Carter, a Marine who must rescue his sister from terrorists.
The Film Yap caught up with The Miz to talk about his work on “The Marine: Homefront,” how acting compares to live WWE action, and more.
Hi, how you doing?
Not too bad, man. How are you?
Good, thanks. Thanks for taking the time out.
No problem, man. Any time.
Can you tell me about how you got the role? I’d heard Randy Orton was up for the role.
I heard that, too. I don’t know what happened, but they asked me to do it. I said, “Of course, yes. Whatever you want me to do, I got it.” I got to play Jake Carter, USMC, opposite Neal McDonough and Ashley Bell, so it’s a pretty incredible thing when you get to stand opposite somebody like Neal McDonough, who has done it all in the film industry. He’s done great things. It was very exciting for me.
Can you talk a little about how you approached the role? It’s becoming commonplace for WWE Superstars to headline films. How did you feel about this being your turn, so to speak?
Sure, going into an action film, I wanted to get a bunch of movies that were old school, oldies but goodies, and just see how the action stars got to be such big stars. I watched “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,” and watched Clint Eastwood. He was never a guy who needed a lot of verbiage. When he walked onto the stage, he was the star. I observed that and I wanted to portray that aura. Then I watched “Cool Hand Luke” with Paul Newman, and just how cool and easy he made everything look. Then I went to “Die Hard.” The first 45 minutes wasn’t Bruce Willis beating people up. It was him being beaten up, beaten up, beaten up. So I approached this character, Jake Carter, that way. I worked on him and read the script and learned, you know, what he wears, how he acts.
You mentioned your co-stars. Did you seek out advice from them?
I’m a sponge. I’m the type of person that I want to learn from everyone. I think no matter how good you are at something you can always learn. When I first met Neal McDonough, he’s a seasoned vet actor, I asked him for advice, and he said, “The greatest advice I can give you is listen. People get so inside their own heads that they’re not listening to what’s going on. And that sounds so easy, but when you have so much going on, you have cameras rolling, you have sound people and lighting people, and you have everyone watching you and you’re in the moment with this actor and have lines to remember, you know what I mean? It’s like you get lost in that, but if you listen in that moment, everything will turn out all right.”
Do you want to continue acting?
Not only do I want to continue it, I am continuing it with “The Christmas Bounty.” I start filming that in April and it comes out at Christmas.
What are some of the similarities and differences between acting for TV or movies and performing in the WWE? It seems like movie acting would be like playing an orchestra, where precision is needed, and WWE is more like jazz, being in a live setting where you are improvising and moving on the fly.
WWE is live, so you mess up in front of a live audience, in front of thousands in the audience and millions at home. When you’re in a movie, you have an audience of about 20 people, who are all working to make you look great, who aren’t booing you or telling you “you suck!” or cheering you. WWE is theater. It’s action. It’s a little bit of everything. It had action, drama, comedy. It’s got larger-than-life characters with its soap opera-like storylines. We encourage our fans to cheer who they love and boo who they don’t, and you don’t get that in movies. You take as much time as you need to make it perfect. In WWE, you only get one time to make it perfect.
When the WWE is in Indianapolis is there a place you like to go?
We’re on the road so much I just tend to look for chain restaurants. Last time I was there, I went to a place downtown that was an Indianapolis Colts-themed grill/bar/restaurant, and it was really fantastic. Your guys’ Indianapolis Colts have turned around your team in just one season. You were supposed to be in a rebuilding year, 3 or 4 wins, and here you made the playoffs. I’m a Cleveland Browns fan. We’re in a rebuilding year every year. We’ve never had this thing where we’re having a rebuilding year, then we make the playoffs. You guys have a pretty good team on your hands.
Oh, yes. There was a lot of negative sentiment, and we were a fan base divided when Peyton Manning left town.
You know, it was a good thing Peyton Manning left town because now you have a quarterback who is the next Peyton Manning in Andrew Luck.
Can you tell me a little about the figure four leg lock?
(laughs) Yeah. I had Ric Flair on MizTV (Editor’s Note: “MizTV” is a “talk show” segment that airs on WWE programming; The Miz is the host of the show) and ended up getting in a “Woo”-off with Ric Flair, which I thought was amazing. This was a guy I grew up watching and loving. He was the dirtiest player in the game, and you always knew Ric Flair was going to give it his all, and he would cheat to win and I loved it. I based my character off of him. I wear the suits, I would do whatever it takes to win. So to not only have Ric Flair on my show, but for him to let me use the figure four leg lock on Antonio Cesaro, it was just incredible to me. I will keep on using the figure four as an homage to Ric Flair.
Who would you like to work a program with who you haven’t yet?
In a program? I’d like to work The Rock. He was basically the person I looked at and said, “I want to be a WWE Superstar.” Just to watch him during the Attitude Era and to watch his matches. Not only to go up against him, but to exceed him. That’s what every WWE Superstar wants to do, whether it’s CM Punk, John Cena, you want to take it to the next level. I’ve already had that huge program with John Cena that took me to the next level, which taught me so much about the WWE, and there’s always CM Punk who is doing such a great job. He was WWE Champion for 400-plus days and is still on a roll. Those are great superstars who you want to get. You always want to be at the top.
I know my time is running down, but I have to know what you think about the new championship belt.
The new title? I really like it. When I was WWE champion, I changed the belt, too, changing the WWE logo to an “M” and stopping it from spinning. I agree with the Rock. A championship should not spin and should not be looked at as a toy. It should be looked upon with prestige and I think this new title reflects that. When people win World Series or NBA Finals or Super Bowls, I think they’ll be wearing this around their waists because it embodies what a title should look like.