Dwayne Johnson has comfortably settled into his wheelhouse of almost exclusively playing badasses with ties to either the military or law enforcement in big budget effects-driven blockbusters, but back when he was still trying to find his feet in Hollywood and shake off his tag of being the latest wrestler-turned-actor, he tackled a variety of different roles.
He showed up as a scene-stealing bodyguard in Get Shorty sequel Be Cool, headlined straightforward sports drama Gridiron Gang and dabbled in family comedy with extremely mixed results in The Game Plan, Race to Witch Mountain and The Tooth Fairy. One of his first, and so far last, major risks, though, was boarding Donnie Darko director Richard Kelly’s existential genre mashup Southland Tales.
Johnson played Boxer Santoros, an amnesiac action star married to the daughter of a United States senator, and while the movie itself was incredibly disjointed and uneven, his performance hinted that there was a genuinely talented actor lurking underneath the hulking facade. Unfortunately, however, Southland Tales bombed hard at the box office, bringing in less than $375,000 on a $17 million budget.
Kelly has been toying with the idea of revisiting the world through a six-hour Director’s Cut or even a sequel, and in a recent interview, he admitted that he’d love to have Johnson involved, although costs would obviously be prohibitive when you’re talking about the highest-paid actor in the business.
“I’ve been working on a new screenplay. But I would love more than anything to work with Dwayne again on this project and with all the actors. It’s just a question of, is there a way to figure that out? I certainly hope so.”
Southland Tales may have found a second life as a cult classic over the last decade, but it still seems unlikely that any studio would be confident enough in handing Kelly the funds to expand the mythology, especially when he hasn’t directed a feature film in over a decade.