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John Cena Reveals His One Rule For Signing on to a Movie

Mar 9, 2024


The Big Picture

Get ready for a wild ride with the new comedy Ricky Stanicky starring John Cena and Zac Efron.
Cena discusses his favorite Persian cuisine and his rules for choosing movie projects.
Efron and Cena also reveal the first thing you should watch if you’ve never seen their work.

From the writer-director who gave us Dumb and Dumber, Peter Farrelly is back with an all-new original comedy, Ricky Stanicky. Featuring an all-star cast, the R-rated romp is about three childhood best friends who’ve managed to weasel their way into the good life through a bible full of lies and deceit they pin on one guy: Ricky Stanicky, played by none other than John Cena.

In an interview with Collider’s Steve Weintraub, Cena sat down with co-star Zac Efron to chat about bringing this larger-than-life story to the big screen and what it was about Farrelly’s script that captured their attention. They talk about their individual journeys from Disney Channel and WWE wrestling to starring alongside one another in a raunchy blockbuster, their favorite Jizz Jams, Cena making front page news as Britney Spears, and the wrestler-turned-actor’s favorite Persian cuisine recommendations. Cena also reveals his rules for signing on to a movie. You can check out all of this and more in the video above, or you can read the transcript below.

The movie also stars Andrew Santino (Dave), William H. Macy (Shameless), Lex Scott Davis (The First Purge), Jermaine Fowler (Sorry to Bother You), and more.

Ricky Stanicky When three childhood best friends pull a prank gone wrong, they invent the imaginary Ricky Stanicky to get them out of trouble. Twenty years later, they still use the nonexistent Ricky as a handy alibi for their immature behavior.Release Date March 7, 2024 Director Peter Farrelly Main Genre Comedy Writers Jeffrey Bushell , Brian Jarvis , Jim Freeman

COLLIDER: I like throwing some curveballs at the beginning of every interview. First question comes from Arezou, who writes for Collider. Love her, she’s great. “Ever since I found out John Cena’s wife is Persian, I’m dying to know what his favorite Persian food is.”

JOHN CENA: Oh, it’s definitely tahchin and koobideh.

By a mile?

CENA: By a mile.

I do not know what this food is, but…

CENA: She asked the question, she’ll know. A well-made tahchin is something that needs to be done with love, and that’s usually a homemade dish. That’s why I love it. Reshteh polo is always another favorite of mine. The downfall of that is whenever I go see the family I usually gain about five or 10 pounds, and I gotta cut off, because Persian food is meat and rice and meat and potatoes, and you can’t stop eating it. But those — reshteh polo, tahchin, and koobideh — are my three favorites.

ZAC EFRON: I’m starving right now.

CENA: Oh, and all Persians will tell you, a good sangak. A good bread.

Image via Prime Video

For the next thing, there’s gonna be people out there that have never seen anything either of you guys have done. Besides this film, which of course they need to see, what is the first thing you’d like them to watch and why?

EFRON: Oh, I’m trying to think of one that went under the radar. High School Musical. There we go. That’s a good start.

Going back to the beginning.

CENA: I’ll do the same thing. I will say my debut in WWE television in June of 2002, a match against Kurt Angle.

EFRON: Oh my gosh, I have to see this.

CENA: It is a really interesting look at something that really wasn’t successful and didn’t work, but you get to see a younger me and kind of see the before and then the after photo.

EFRON: Oh man, I can’t wait to check that.

What is it like reading a script like this for the first time, and you seeing your character with Jizz Jams, with all the different jokes that are in there? By the way, I can’t believe I get to say Jizz Jams…

CENA: And it works.

It’s totally legit. But seriously, what is it like reading something like this for the first time?

CENA: For me, I don’t necessarily read it through the eyes of me. I read it as a story, and I love reading scripts as stories. I have a rule: if I put it down, I should think twice. Like, I get in a good mindset when I pick it up. I know it’s what I want to do. This is my story time, I enjoy reading. If I can’t get through 120 pages, no matter how many stage directions, if it’s not riveting and I put it down, if I put it down once I’ve got some second thoughts. If I pick it up again and put it down again, it’s out. And that’s not to say it’s bad, it’s just to say it doesn’t move me. This was one where it’s, like, you’re through it and it’s over, and then you go again and it’s over, and then you start realizing, “Oh, I can be that.” And then you start diving into that perspective.

But just to give you an alternative example, I read all eight episodes of Peacemaker. It’s one stapled folder, and it’s just a story you can’t put down. So when it’s something like that, when it’s got that gravity to it, this was an easy read. It’s like 115 pages of just pure comedy and heart.

EFRON: It’s very true. Sometimes you can drift off. If you know you’re up for a character, a specific one, you can kind of drift and start thinking about the motivation of the character or reading the lines out loud, and you’ll be stuck on the same page and never finish the script because you could be stuck on it for an hour thinking about what the scene is about. But with this one, it all just made sense. It clicked. It was very well-written, and it was the kind of thing you just know Pete’s gonna nail.

Image via Prime Video

One of the things that he does so well is he makes films that have filthy, filthy moments, but with characters with heart and redemption, and I think that’s his secret sauce, right?

CENA: I think that’s very well said. I would completely agree with you. You wanna root for these guys. You wanna root for all of his characters. You wanna see them be their best selves.

This movie has a lot of funny parts. What’s the one thing you’re really looking forward to audiences seeing, without spoilers?

EFRON: I think all of Rock Hard Rod’s impersonations are next level. They’re really, really funny and no one’s seen anything like this in a long time.

CENA: There’s a lot of cool moments. I think William H. Macy does a tremendous job. I think there’s gonna be a lot of internet information on him coming out. I hope he’s ready for that tidal wave because I think that that’s happening, too.

EFRON: It’s so funny to have Will H. Macy. He’s such a heavy hitter in this role. [Laughs] It’s so good, and nobody even knows about it.

CENA: A true pro. You wanna talk about commitment to the bit. I can’t wait for people to see it.

I don’t want to spoil it in this, but I brought up what he does on camera with him, and the fact that I could say those words on camera and in a junket and not be thrown out?

CENA: Sure.

EFRON: It works.

John Cena Took Big Swings in for His Role in ‘Ricky Stanicky’

But I have to ask you, you’ve done a lot of stuff in your career, but when you’re doing those impressions with those costumes, were you actually a little nervous?

CENA: Man, we’ve talked a bunch. I’m nervous every time we talk. I get nervous for everything. Like those impressions — I don’t sing, I don’t do impressions. It’s a matter of saying, “I’m gonna give it a try and see where we land,” and that’s what’s beautiful about Peter, and that’s what’s great about my castmates. Anytime you try something, you take a big swing, and if people make you feel uncool or like you’re not good enough, you’re never gonna do it again. When you’re in an environment where they welcome the misses, and they’ll hang in there with you until you get something that’s passable, man, that’s where you can really grow as a performer and as a human being. So, the costume department set me up not to fail. The wigs and the makeup were great. Peter was great. They gave me about as much sizzle for my steak as I could have, and I’m grateful to everybody.

EFRON: And you stay committed, man. That’s what it’s all about. You gotta stay committed and eventually something good is gonna come out.

Did you get to leave set as Britney and walk around, or any of those outfits, just to see what the reaction would be?

CENA: So, there were a lot of long-lens cameras that caught me in the Britney costume without the wig, and boy, did that make its way around the media for a hot second when I guess it was a day that there was nothing else to talk about. But, yeah, that was the one costume they got me in. I kind of hid in all the rest of the ones, and we filmed Britney towards the end of the day and for some reason, they just caught me in it. Boy, did everybody have a field day with that one.

EFRON: Especially in Australia, because it’s a relatively small country population-wise. Yeah, that was front page for a while. [Laughs]

So you guys have both done a lot of cool stuff. What do you think was the night that you were the most nervous for the first day of filming?

EFRON: Good question.

CENA: Honestly, the most nervous I’ve ever been is the night before hosting the ESPYs, just because that’s a room that I’m neither a sportsman nor an entertainer at that point. I’m a sports entertainer, which is, like, neither one, and I’m supposed to be doing a bit on all the people in the crowd. So, the live hosting gig in front of an audience that sometimes is like, “Who the F is this guy?” That was the most nervous I’ve ever been.

EFRON: I think Saturday Night Live.

CENA: Another one, yeah. Dude.

Image via Prime Video

EFRON: Most of those scenes we had never tried until the day. Like, I’d never even read the cue cards. We just were like, “This is happening.” We never tried the costumes on, we just went out there and did it. It was literally just reading the cards. It’s wild. We prepped all week and then they throw it out the window at the very last minute, and you just try brand new shit. It was wild. I can’t believe any of it worked.

Ricky Stanicky is available to stream on Prime Video now.

Watch on Prime

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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