The trailer came out shortly before last year’s Olympia. What was your reaction on seeing it?
There’s a part of you that thinks, “Aw, man! I could have done that better!” or “I wish I would’ve said this...” But the truth is, when you were in the actual trenches of the experience, there were so many things going on.
What about the gym scenes? Did you put any pressure on yourself to make them memorable for the film?
There might have been times when I thought like that, but I didn’t want to get injured. Would that serve my goal? No. You really have to keep your ego in check, and with all my years of training experience, I’ve been pretty good at keeping my ego at bay. Actually, there were a lot of things I’d like to be able to take credit for now, and say I knew what the end result would be, so I decided to do this or say that, but I didn’t. That credit goes to the flmmakers and to the situation at hand, and how it all just played out naturally. Being an athlete who has a responsibility to himself and his sponsors and fans can be daunting, because you try to keep everybody happy—but sometimes you come up short at the end of the day. So you just do the best you can and focus on things that are immediately important as the cameras are rolling. You realize that this is representative of my preparation at this period. This was my big-screen acting debut, so in my mind I was thinking of Apollo Creed or Clubber Lang from Rocky, because characters like that resonate with me. But then you tell yourself that this isn’t some part I’m playing. I’m not a thespian. I don’t need to know what my “motivation” is before a scene, because this is real life—my life. When the cameras are rolling, this is me getting ready for the biggest moment of my life. And that’s where the vulnerability comes in. Because you aren’t acting, you’re just being yourself and the whole world is watching.