May 28, 2015

By Sandra Varner 



Born in Hayward, California, raised in Hawaii and having spent considerable time in Florida, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson may know a thing or two about earthquakes, volcanoes and hurricanes, respectively.  Had he not become one of the most successful hero icons in contemporary filmmaking, he surely could have pursued a career as the best looking weather man in recent memory.


Johnson stars as Ray Gaines, LAPD Search and Rescue helicopter pilot in the action-packed “San Andreas” alongside Carla Gugino (HBO’s “Entourage”), Alexandra Daddario (“Texas Chainsaw 3D”), Archie Panjabi (CBS-TV’s “The Good Wife”) and Paul Giamatti (“Sideways”) in the big screen adventure directed by Brad Peyton for Warner Bros. Pictures.


Ray’s life has changed. Emma (Gugino), his estranged wife has found a new lover and his daughter Blake (Daddario) will move in with them. Unsettlingly, the tough-as-nails rescue expert must face the consequences of their decision.  When a mammoth disaster repositions the family scenario, Ray goes into overdrive to save the ones he loves most.


Rated PG-13, “San Andreas” imagines the largest magnitude earthquake in recorded history — an upheaval of unimaginable consequences for the entire West Coast.


Johnson, along with The cast of “San Andreas” talked about the film during a press conference at L.A. Live.


Q: What were the conversations with you and your team about expectations in this film?


Dwayne Johnson: It’s such a collaborative effort; there are so many different moving mechanisms to making a movie.  I think when you’re trying to construct a heroic character — one that can anchor a big movie like this, that’s a real world depiction playing real men and women who live and exist as first responders — the level of detail and the deep diving that we do is really extraordinary.


All said, there were many drilled down conversations; and again we want to meet that expectation in terms of heroic characters, across the board.  I think we did it in the movie.


Q: Speaking of heroic characters, the ladies in this film are also doing much of the heavy lifting. Ladies, apart from this role, do you see yourself as a smart tough girl?


Alexandra Daddario: I do consider myself to be a smart tough girl.  I think back when I was younger I didn’t feel all that tough or smart or strong.  As I got older, I was able to discover my own strength and to discover how strong you actually are and what you can accomplish.  Today, I’m 29, and reaching that point where I see what I can do.  I feel confident and strong and powerful and that’s an amazing feeling.  Being able to portray a character like this is even more exciting and to do it authentically is quite a wonderful feeling.


I think it’s wonderful that we’re portraying women in this way so young girls can see that women are strong and capable of accomplishing all kinds of things.


Carla Gugino: When I first read the script one of the things that jumped out at me immediately were these two very strong female characters, actually three strong female characters.  In this film, the women were as well taken care of as the male characters which is unfortunately not the case that often.


Actually, when we say strong women, I also think that almost makes it even smaller than it is: women are strong, women are complex, and women are smart.  I think what I loved most about these characters is they feel like honest representations of what women are certainly capable of in a situation like this.


Archie Panjabi: When I got the script, I saw not one strong character, but three strong female characters which is rare in my culture where film roles are concerned.  I was very pleased.


Johnson: I love these responses. Raised by strong women, I love this, I love that we’re sitting here talking about this and these amazing, incredibly articulate answers, it’s awesome. 


I surely echo some of these responses; I was raised by a single mother. I really understood how important it was, she was sort of an unsung hero.  This movie has three story lines and it was very important that all the characters were active and heroic, not passive in the face of danger. We wanted to make sure that each character had a mission.


Alexandra’s character wasn’t just waiting around to be rescued or Carla wasn’t just a passive participant in Dwayne’s journey.  We wanted each character to express their heroism from the start.


Brad also communicated to us the desire for this family to be made whole again through this tragic incident. That is the silver lining; I think tragedies help silver linings occur.  Brad did an extraordinary job of directing, I couldn’t have asked for a better rendition of what I had in my head and what he gave to us to do. This cast pulled it off in a fantastic experience.

Category: Arts & Culture