Dwayne Johnson to play MMA fighter Mark Kerr in 'The Smashing Machine'

Benny Safdie is going to work alone on 'The Smashing Machine' as a writer and director for the first time.
Actor and film producer Dwayne Johnson. (Photo | AFP)
Actor and film producer Dwayne Johnson. (Photo | AFP)

WASHINGTON: Actor and film producer Dwayne Johnson is all set to take up a new role as mixed martial arts fighter Mark Kerr. The wrestler-turned-actor, 51, will play the MMA and UFC champion in director Benny Safdie's upcoming film 'The Smashing Machine', according to an announcement made by the independent entertainment company A24, reported People.

"Dwayne and Benny are singular talents, and their shared vision for Mark's inspiring story is electrifying. We are deeply honoured to have their trust as collaborators in bringing this incredibly special project to life," A24's Noah Sacco said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter and Variety.

Safdie, 37, previously co-directed the films 'Uncut Gems', starring Adam Sandler, and 'Good Time', starring Robert Pattinson, alongside his brother Josh Safdie. Safdie is going to work alone on 'The Smashing Machine' as a writer and director for the first time. Producing the movie are David Koplan, Eli Bush, Dany Garcia, Safdie, and Johnson.

The film will follow Kerr as he navigates love, friendship, addiction, and professional triumphs in 2000, at the height of his career.

Due to his unrestrained fighting style, Kerr, 54, earned the nickname 'The Smashing Machine'. He was the winner of the World Vale Tudo Championship tournament, the UFC Heavyweight Tournament twice, and more than two dozen other mixed martial arts titles.

'The Smashing Machine', an HBO documentary, focused on Kerr in 2002. It tracked the mixed martial arts fighter's career, chronicling his ascent within the sport, and examined Kerr's struggle with addiction that culminated in an overdose.

Although Johnson left the WWE in 2004, he recently made a comeback and squared off against former rival John Cena.

According to People, in September, the two wrestling champions surprised fans by facing off during WWE SmackDown! at Ball Arena in Denver. During Johnson's return, Cena was filmed standing silently behind Johnson, staring straight ahead with his hands behind his back. Straight-faced and showing no emotion, the two men squared off but were unable to hold their stoic posture before both broke into grins.

"I see you trying to smile!" Johnson said as he pointed at Cena, who nodded his head in agreement. The Peacemaker star then held his hand out for Johnson to shake and told him, "Welcome home."

'Red Notice 2', 'Fast X: Part 2', 'Jungle Cruise 2', 'Red One', and the live-action remake of 'Moana' are among Johnson's other forthcoming projects.

Filmmaker Safdie's most recent work includes his role as a producer of 'Telemarketers' and 'Love Has Won'. He also acted in 'Are You There God?' It's Me, Margaret' and 'Oppenheimer', reported People.

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The New Indian Express