Until the last few years, John Cena almost exclusively stayed in a professional wrestling ring. As a 16-time world champion, Cena stayed at the top of the wrestling world for more than a decade as WWE turned record profits. Recently, however, he has followed in the footsteps of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, another popular WWE legend who capitalized on their name and transitioned to a near full-time acting career.
Cena didn’t just start acting a little bit ago, though. When he was the biggest star in the WWE, Cena landed his first leading role in WWE Films’ The Marine (2006). He acted very sparingly over the years, most of which in movies produced by WWE Studios—the current name for WWE Films. But Cena said that was more to benefit WWE, not him.
“When I did those movies in the early 2000s — if anybody saw them, I’ll mail them the check because I owe them some money — the reasons behind it were wrong,” Cena said on Dermot & Dave (h/t Fightful).
“I was doing it to try and get WWE more popular rather than wanting to do it. Every second I was on one of those movie sets, I wanted to be back in WWE. Now, I truly enjoy everything that comes with the movie. You can’t have fear of missing out or wanting to be in all places at once. As performers in WWE, we fancy ourselves as versatile and want to be everywhere.”
Since 2015, Cena has compiled numerous credits, including in films such as Daddy’s Home, Daddy’s Home 2, Ferdinand, Blockers, and most recently, F9 as Jakub Toretto. He is also set to be in three upcoming films: The Suicide Squad, Vacation Friends, and Project X-Traction. He also co-hosts the reboot Wipeout game show.
Although John Cena recently confirmed he will soon return to WWE, it’s very much expected the “Face that Runs the Place” will not stop acting anytime soon.