Jeffrey Dean Morgan freed up some time from his busy schedule on TV’s The Walking Dead, so he can star opposite Dwayne Johnson in New Line Cinema’s epic adventure Rampage (in Philippine cinemas Thursday, April 12).
And he obviously enjoyed himself doing the actioner. He shares, “For one scene, I’m firing four clips of machine gun fire into a giant monster, and the director yells cut and walks up to me and says, ‘Can you stop smiling?’ – because I’m having such a good time with Rampage!”
In the film, primatologist Davis Okoye (Johnson), a man who keeps people at a distance, shares an unshakable bond with George, the extraordinarily intelligent, silverback gorilla who has been in his care since birth. But a rogue genetic experiment gone awry mutates this gentle ape into a raging creature of enormous size. To make matters worse, it’s soon discovered there are other similarly altered animals. As these newly created alpha predators tear across North America, destroying everything in their path, Okoye teams with a discredited genetic engineer to secure an antidote, fighting his way through an ever-changing battlefield, not only to halt a global catastrophe but to save the fearsome creature that was once his friend.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan talks about Rampage more in the following interview.
Question: How did the filmmakers pitch you Rampage and the character of Russell?
Jeffrey Dean Morgan: The first pitch came from producer Beau Flynn, who had produced San Andreas, which I had really enjoyed. Beau said Rampage would be a huge popcorn movie. He knew that Dwayne [Johnson] and I would have a great time with our roles and going toe-to-toe with each other.
Later, I spoke with [director] Brad Peyton. I really liked him, and soon understood that he was a filmmaker I wanted to work with. He explained the movie to me, and I realized this is much bigger than anything I’d done before. Movies like this are why I became an actor. And, of course, the chance to work with Dwayne was a big draw.
Q: Your character, Russell, works for an ultra-covert agency called OGA – an abbreviation for Other Government Agency. What kind of agent is he?
Morgan: Russell is very mysterious; who he works for is never stated. We just know that Russell has a lot of pull, and when he walks into a room, people listen to him. We never really dive into the specifics of the agency. It’s like the dark web – something we’ve heard of but don’t know a whole lot about. Russell certainly never offers any explanation. He’s not that kind of guy.
Q: Russell’s wardrobe is also unexpected. How does that help define him?
Morgan: Russell wears cowboy boots and a huge belt buckle. The first thing Brad selected for Russell was a gun with an ivory handle and lots of scroll work. Definitely not a subtle look. I wanted the gun to be a little bit more worn. We ended up agreeing on everything once I started trying on stuff. Brad’s very good at incorporating what an actor is thinking into his vision.
Q: We were on the set for a few days when you were filming the interior of the C-17 military transport plane. That looked like a very physical scene.
Morgan: It was great – until Dwayne landed on top of me with the full weight of his body (laughs). That knocked the wind out of me, but the filming really was a lot of fun. This is the stuff you dream about as an actor.
Q: What do you hope audiences take away from Rampage when they see it in cinemas this April?
Morgan: Rampage is a popcorn movie to the nth degree. That was Brad’s original vision, and it exceeds my wildest imagination. I think the audience is going to have a blast. You’re going to laugh, the movie’s got heart, and it’s got Dwayne Johnson. How can you not love that?
Rampage is distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.