Seth Rollins is one of the biggest WWE Superstars today. A two-time world champion, he’s headlined countless Pay-Per-Views and is responsible for one of the most memorable WrestleMania moments of all-time when he cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase on Brock Lesnar. He’s also the cover star of the upcoming WWE 2K18 video game and is now set to take on his first major big screen role in WWE Studios’ upcoming Armed Response.
In the movie, a team of special forces soldiers approach the designer of a high-tech military compound to investigate the disappearance of another team guarding the facility. The compound, known professionally as a Temple, is an artificial intelligence powered facility designed for interrogating high-level prisoners. Upon entering the Temple, the soldiers find the team horrifically slaughtered but no evidence as to who is responsible.
Almost immediately, the crew begins to experience strange and horrific supernatural phenomena as they attempt to uncover who killed the previous team. Soon enough, they find a lone survivor, a dangerous terrorist who may hold the key to who killed the soldiers. But as the story goes on, we’ll learn that there’s more to it than we’ve been told and a dark secret the soldiers share may hold the key to surviving The Temple. Here’s the trailer:
Here, we talk to Seth about starring in the movie alongside Wesley Snipes as well as his hopes for next year’s WrestleMania, who came up with The Kingslayer nickname currently adorning his t-shirts, and whether he’d make the leap from RAW to SmackDown Live.
Armed Response is in theaters and on demand from August 4th, so be sure to check it out!
Firstly, can you take us into how you came to be in Armed Response and what it was about the project that most appealed to you?
I was injured in November of 2015. I tore my knee up pretty bad and was in the middle of rehabbing when the WWE Studios film department gave me a call and said they had a role in a movie coming up. I was able to fit it into my schedule as I was just finishing up my rehab and they asked me to play the role of Brett in the film in New Orleans for a month, so I said, ‘Yeah, why not, I’ll give it a shot!’ It seemed pretty cool and obviously the rest of the cast was nice and I got to work with those guys so it seemed like a good opportunity for my first movie.
Brett certainly doesn’t shy away from saying what he thinks. What did you like most about playing a character like that?
Brett was a cool character in the sense that he’s a badass and gets to push everybody’s buttons a little bit. He also gets to be a jerk which is always fun to do on film because a lot of time, in real life, you’ve got to keep those things that you want to say under your tongue. When you’re in a movie playing a character that doesn’t bite his tongue, you can say everything and act in a certain way you otherwise couldn’t. It’s nice to channel that energy on screen and I think Brett was a cool character and I enjoyed sliding into his mindset from time to time.
Wesley Snipes is one of the biggest action movie stars out there. Can you talk us through your experience working with him here?
WWE is cool in the sense that we have a lot of people from mainstream media come into our world to be a part of the excitement that is Monday Night RAW and SmackDown Live so I’m used to being around celebrities in that sense. However, it was still nerve-wracking to be in scenes with Wesley Snipes, the guy who’s been acting for 30+ years and made a lot of money in Hollywood. He seemed like a cool dude to me as a kid growing up so it was great to be around him and he was awesome and treated everyone with a great deal of respect. He’s still the same cool, calm, and collected guy I thought he was going to be so he’s one of those dudes who lived up to the hype. When you set a certain expectation for somebody and you meet them, he definitely didn’t let me down.
You get to use some very cool guns throughout Armed Response; did you receive much in the way of training for that?
We had a little bit on set. They had some people there from the military who were very particular about how we held the weapons and the way to search a room and stuff like that. There’s not a whole lot of armed combat in the film, just a little bit, so we didn’t have the same extent of training some of the guys go through but there were definitely people on set to take care of that sort of thing for us and to make sure we were as authentic as we could be.
Brett’s fight scene with Riley is particularly memorable and probably the movie’s biggest and most exciting action sequence. What was it like to shoot that?
I’m used to doing things in one take and one shot and doing all my own stunts (if you want to put it that way) with WWE so it was pretty interesting. Anne [Heche] wanted to do as much as she could and then I’d do some work with her stunt double to make it as good as possible. Kudos to Anne for getting into it and letting me manhandle her a little bit as she’s much smaller than I am so I was kind of worried about hurting her but she was happy for me to bring it to her. It was a cool experience and watching the film back, it came off pretty good.
You get some very memorable one-liners in the movie; were there any that ended up on the cutting room floor?
There was a good one liner that I really liked that I’m not allowed to repeat right now [Laughs]. I smashed a guy in the face with the butt of my rifle and uttered a nice little expletive in his direction that I thought was pretty funny.
Did the fact you were recovering from an injury during shooting make starring in the movie significantly harder for you?
It was a little difficult for me as I had my rehab system set up at home so going down to New Orleans threw me off a little bit as I didn’t my doctors there to let me know how my progress was doing. It was just different for me. So, having to figure things out and see how my knee was doing on a day to day basis on my own was something that was a little tough for me, especially as I was trying to get back to WWE as soon as I possibly could. It all worked out fine, though, and was a good experience for me and I wasn’t doing anything stunt wise that was too crazy so it was a lot of fun. I enjoyed it and my knee held up just fine.
What is your take on how Armed Response provides a different take on the way A.I. (artificial intelligence) is used in films?
I think it’s a really cool concept as the world moves closer and closer to autonomy, especially when you look at self-driving cars and robots and what they’re going to be in the future. This movie sees The Temple taking control and fighting back and it’s an interesting take on that because a lot of people think artificial intelligence could be used for bad. You know, ‘What if these robots grow consciousness and take over and they’re evil?’ This movie is the opposite of that as the artificial intelligence weeds out the bad guys, grows a conscience and uses it for good. It’s very interesting prospect and I think people look at it as the future and it being so far off but it might not be as far off as you think.
Has starring in the movie made you want to find more acting roles or are you focused on your wrestling career for the time being?
I’m certainly focused on WWE. That’s a 24/7 lifestyle, not just a job. That’s my main focus, obviously, but if the opportunity came up to do more movies like this I would not be opposed. I would be very open to the idea if the movie and the role were right for me at the time.
The Miz recently made headlines when he said he’d like to play Booster Gold in a DC Comics movie; are there any superhero roles you have your eye on?
Oh man, I don’t know. Who would I be good as as a superhero? Anybody got long dark hair and a beard? A role as a superhero or maybe a supervillain would be pretty sweet, though, so who knows! If the opportunity came along and it sounded cool, I’d be down for sure.
You’d make a good Shazam opposite The Rock in the Black Adam movie he’s doing!
I’d be a good Shazam, is that what would you said? Alright! I’ll have to look that up, I don’t know that one.
You were recently named the cover star of WWE 2K18, an honour which doesn’t seem to usually be reserved for active members of the roster. How did it feel to be chosen?
I was pretty stoked. I got the call, they asked me to do it and I was really excited not just for myself but my entire generation of guys. You mentioned that there’s a long history of inactive wrestlers being on the cover, so to be the first of my generation of guys and girls to get than honour was really cool. I know in the locker room it was cool for the guys and girls to see one of us on there so to speak and it made us feel a little bit validated in the sense that we put in all the work and are finally getting a bit of the credit. That’s the way we feel about it anyway so it’s definitely awesome and I’m looking forward to seeing everyone’s responses when the game’s on shelves in a couple of months.
The moment you cashed in at WrestleMania is personally my favourite Mania moment of all-time. How does it feel now to look back on that night and winning the WWE Championship on such a grand stage? Are you striving to top that in the future?
I’m definitely striving to top it. For me to walk out of WrestleMania with the world championship over my head was the childhood dream but at the same time, I also want to be the guy billed in the main event of WrestleMania so that’s a future goal of mine as well. Looking back on it, it’s hard to put into words how it felt, man. It happened so fast, it almost seems like a bit of a dream or fiction. It’s interesting to see it in a highlight reel or video package as you look at it and almost look at it like it’s not you and that it happened to someone else. It was a special moment that I don’t think will be recreated maybe ever. It’s cool that it’s going to go down in history, like you said, as one of the most exciting and greatest WrestleMania moments of all-time.
You took down Triple H at WrestleMania, so looking ahead to next year’s event in New Orleans, what are you hoping to achieve there?
Like I said, for me, it’s all about the main event. I want to be the guy on the poster, I want to be the guy who’s going on last at WrestleMania and in the match not just doing the run in or the cash in or what have you. That’s my goal; to be that guy. To be the Hulk Hogan, the John Cena, the Roman Reigns (the guy who’s been in that spot for the past few years now). For me, that’s always the goal, it always has been the goal, and I won’t rest until I get it.
What are the origins of your Kingslayer nickname? Was it inspired at all by Game of Thrones?
Yeah, 100%. It came from me and Cesaro riding down the road coming up with ideas for me moving into WrestleMania and me working with The King of Kings, Triple H. The Kingslayer was something we discussed and it just so happened it was available for me to use so I figured, ‘Why not?’ It was a cool correlation, we got it all figured out and now it’s on a t-shirt with my logo, so that’s pretty sweet.
Since the brand split, there’s been some healthy competition between Raw and SmackDown. Would you ever be tempted to make the leap there so you could square off with the likes of AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura?
I’m happy on RAW right now. RAW is the flagship show. I feel like it is, always will be, and always has been. Obviously, if I move to SmackDown Live, it will be the flagship show because I’m on it and there are certainly some guys over there I haven’t locked horns with. I’d like to do that, but for now, I’m happy where I’m at, I’m happy with the competition on RAW and I’m moving forward.