The Rock Set To Play UFC Champion In Upcoming A24 Film

For about 20 years, Dwayne Johnson has been a leading man in Hollywood, almost always in action and comedy films. In something a little out-of-character based on his career thus far, Johnson has accepted the leading role in an upcoming MMA biopic from studio A24 and director Benny Safdie. The man formerly known as The Rock is set to portray former UFC champion Mark Kerr in the film, currently titled The Smashing Machine.

The report states that Johnson’s company, Seven Bucks Productions, will co-produce the movie alongside A24 and several other parties, as is standard for the actor. Johnson and Safdie have been developing the project since 2019, with some inspiration seemingly coming from a 2002 documentary focused on Kerr with the same title as the upcoming film. The Smashing Machine will be the first solo effort from Safdie, who has previously directed movies like Uncut Gems and Good Time alongside his brother, Josh Safdie.

Johnson has had a quiet 2023, with the various Hollywood strikes undoubtedly playing a major role in that fact. The former WWE star wrapped production on a Christmas-themed film, titled Red One, earlier this year, but it’s starting to look unlikely that the movie will make it out before the end of 2023. Those who saw Fast X earlier this year are already aware that Johnson had a small post-credits cameo, setting up his involvement in the next sequel in 2024.

Making a shift to a dramatic role for a studio known for serious films is a big change for The Rock, and as long as his performance is well-received, it could change the landscape of the actor’s career. Last year’s Black Adam was seen as a critical and financial disappointment, with some beginning to doubt Johnson’s staying power as someone who can carry a blockbuster.

Just a few months ago, during the SAG-AFTRA strike, Johnson made a one-night return to the world of wrestling. The Rock appeared on an episode of WWE SmackDown, coming face-to-face with performers like Austin Theory, Pat McAfee, and even his old rival John Cena. Though many hope Johnson will face his cousin Roman Reigns at the upcoming WWE WrestleMania 40, other candidates seem poised to take that spot instead – namely, CM Punk or Cody Rhodes.