Pro Wrestling Champ Gets Ready for His Close-Up

Mr. DeMille, professional wrestler-turned-actor John Cena is ready for his first close-up.

Cena is making his film debut in "The Marine," which opens nationwide on Friday.

It remains to be seen whether the film will have the same kind of memorable lines that made 1950's "Sunset Boulevard" a cinema classic.

But the World Wrestling Entertainment champion admits that his stomach is tied up in knots.

"It's exciting, but I won't sugarcoat it. I'm nervous about it," Cena told "My own acting aspirations aside, there is a lot riding on this film. It's a chance for WWE as a brand to redirect, reinvent itself. If it is a success, I'm ready for it. At the same point in time, if it is not, I'm ready to adjust accordingly."

Movie Franchise Hopes

World Wrestling Entertainment -- formerly known as the World Wrestling Federation -- hopes Cena will be one of the marquee stars of WWE Films, its Los Angeles-based film and television company formed in 2002.

"The Marine" is the second movie produced by WWE Films to come to the big screen.

Its first, "See No Evil," starring WWE wrestler Kane -- a 7-foot, 326-pound version of Uncle Fester -- opened last May and earned slightly more than $15 million domestically.

In "The Marine," Cena plays John Triton, a soldier who is discharged involuntarily and becomes embroiled in a personal battle against a band of thugs led by Robert Patrick (of "X-Files," "Terminator 2" and "Walk the Line" fame) when they kidnap his wife during a random encounter at a gas station.

The action flick is full of testosterone, with fight scenes, explosions, and car-chase scenes galore.

No Oscar buzz is expected to greet "The Marine," but Cena said fans would be surprised to see that the film offered more than an adrenaline rush.

"I really encourage fans to see the movie," he said. "Each character has their own story, and you really get to know each and every one of these characters. There's also a lot of humor in there."

Cinematic Naturals

Cena is only the latest professional wrestler to invade the big screen.

Tinseltown has long recognized their star potential.

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson -- who first rose to fame as a third-generation WWE wrestler -- drew some critical acclaim in his latest movie, "Gridiron Gang," which opened at No. 1 last month.

According to domestic box-office estimates, it had earned $36.6 million as of last weekend.

He has been the only wrestler to parlay his in-ring success into a full-time Hollywood career.

Since turning some heads for his small role in 2002's "The Mummy Returns," Johnson has nabbed starring roles in such movies as "The Scorpion King," "The Rundown," and the remake of "Walking Tall," among others.

The 2005 remake of "The Longest Yard" was full of pro wrestlers.

"Stone Cold" Steve Austin, Bill Goldberg, Dalip Singh (who wrestled in WWE as "The Great Khali") and Total Nonstop Action Wrestling's Kevin Nash starred opposite Adam Sandler, Chris Rock and Burt Reynolds.

Some say wrestlers, who blend athleticism with charisma and theatrics, are cinematic naturals.

Wrestling -- or what some have referred to as "sports entertainment" in recent years -- calls on its performers to adopt an in-ring persona when they entertain the audience.

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