Dwayne Johnson has become a star of action movies, but in “Snitch” there’s an underlying social message about drug laws in the United States. In “Snitch,” Johnson plays John Matthews, a father who owns a trucking company and whose college-age son Jason (played by Rafi Gavron) gets imprisoned for drug possession.
Jason won’t snitch on his drug connection, so in order to reduce the sentence, John strikes a deal with the prosecutor Joanne Keeghan (played by Oscar winner Susan Sarandon) to go undercover to help bust a drug cartel. Here is what Johnson said about “Snitch” at the Los Angeles press junket for the movie.
What makes “Snitch” different from a standard action movie?
There are great action elements in the movie, and what makes it different from the other ones is its heart and its grounded sense of gritty reality. Again, great action elements. There’s a man who discovers he has the heart of a lion. It doesn’t start off that way.
He has a very fractured relationship with his son, has an ex-wife, has a new wife, has a daughter, and puts all of that in jeopardy by trying to infiltrate a very dangerous drug cartel in Mexico, based on true events. So there are a lot of elements that make it very intriguing.
Was “Snitch” more appealing to you because it was based on true events?
I think like a lot of people who love movies, I’m always very intrigued by anything that’s inspired by true events, based on a true story, or an actual story that really took place. And in this case, the circumstance which was so incredible that this man, who’s not a street-wise guy, is a regular, everyday guy, a family man, [with] no drug affiliates, no gang affiliates, no drug connections, yet at the same time, his son gets a 10-year sentence from our minimum mandatory drug laws. He’s a very non-violent, first-time offender.
And the father strikes this incredible deal with the U.S. [district] attorney, saying that he’s going to infiltrate a drug cartel in Mexico. And the notion of a man doing that is incredible to me. But not only that, when you think that he’s putting his entire family at risk — ex-wife, new wife, family, new daughter — and coming to grips that he’s probably not going to be back, and he’s probably going to die while doing this, it’s really amazing. So it moved me.
And the fact that there’s a man out there who did this moved me. And then it also sparks great dialogue about what we would do for our family. It’s safe to say that we would do pretty much anything to protect our family.
Did you tap into your own real-life experiences as a father for your role in “Snitch”? And how easy or hard was it for you to do that?
Very easy. There was a direct connection between this character and myself. It landed on me. It moved and inspired. The bottom line is that I would do anything to protect my child. It’s what we do as adults. Anything. I mean anything. The fact that this guy did it is even more impressive. I was very fortunate to have this material come my way and that we were able to put it on its feet and show it to the world.
“Snitch” director Ric Roman Waugh comes from a stunt background. What was it like working with him?
Ric’s amazing. Ric is an incredibly intelligent and articulate writer and director. And on paper, he’s a former stuntman. He comes from a very famous family of stuntmen, by the way, in Hollywood.
He not only was able to bring in the wittiness and the drama and the weight and emotions to this movie, but also to a former stuntman wanting to tap into that and saying, “Listen, if the story is going to drive some action, well, our action is going to be real and it’s going to be badass.” And with that, he literally strapped himself to the front of my 18-wheeler.
And I went down the highway at 70, 80 miles an hour. And he was operating the camera strapped to the front of my 18-wheeler! I had never seen a contraption like this, by the way. And like a lot of directors, he was very passionate, and he got right in there.
You’ve got to be a little crazy too. When you’re a stuntman, you always cowboy up, and he cowboyed up. I love that man though, He’s great.
What can you say about any of your “Snitch” co-stars?
I was privileged to work with all of the actors. There’s an old sports saying that you play to your level of your competition. And in this case, everybody raised their game. Me certainly, for sure.
Susan Sarandon is a titan in our business. A wonderful woman to work with. Barry Pepper, a phenomenal character actor. Jon Bernthal is just incredible. We’ve all become good friends after this.
The best part about having those guys and working with those guys and essentially having those guys as my partners is how passionate they were about the script. We all do movies for different reasons and take on different roles for different reasons. In this case, they all locked in, loaded, and they loved the script. They’re all very passionate about it. And you see it in their performances too.
For more info: "Snitch" website