Watch: Film Nerd 2.0 comes face to face with Dwayne Johnson in an action-figure showdown
When I think back on how I processed things as a kid, I can't imagine what would have changed for me if I had the sort of opportunities that my kids have. I dreamed of having the sorts of encounters that they have all the time now, and I am thrilled every time I can allow them to do something that is unique or special.
For example, last week a box of toys from "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" showed up at the house, and the boys went crazy with them. In particular, Allen was smitten with a large-size action figure of Dwayne Johnson, and when he took it to pre-school as his share toy for the day, the other kids in his class went nuts for it. Several of the kids were aware of Dwayne as The Rock, and when Allen brought the figure home, he had stopped calling him Roadblock and started just calling him The Rock.
I never know who will or won't be a big deal to the boys. On Friday, Allen went with me to the press day for "42," the new film about Jackie Robinson, and I had an interview with Harrison Ford scheduled. Allen seemed totally unimpressed by Ford in general, even though he's a huge Han Solo fan. I wasn't sure at first that he even understood who he met. Ford does, after all, look fairly different now as he settles into the Spencer Tracy phase of his career. Allen told me afterwards in the car that it was amazing, and he got more excited when he told his brother who he met, but in the room? Cool as cool gets about it all.
By contrast, the next day, Allen went with me to the Four Seasons so I could conduct my "G.I. Joe" interviews, and from the moment we got in the car to head down there, he was positively giddy.
Hasbro had a room set up as part of the junket, and they had examples of the whole toy line laid out there. Allen revealed a previously-unknown expertise at sharp shooting as soon as he got hold of a rifle that shoots little foam darts, firing about 60 of them at my head in a row, and Joe Moscone and Jen DeAngelis of Hasbro could not have been any sweeter to him as he rampaged around the room, positively ecstatic at each new toy.
The one that we brought with us, though, was that figure of The Rock. There's a new move that these figures do where you can press a button on their belt and they quick-draw the guns or swords from the holsters on their backs, and I think that's part of why Allen loved that Roadblock figure right away. He would do that over and over and over, amazed every time that it worked.
When we walked into the room where I interviewed Dwayne, Allen got real quiet real quick and… well, you can see it for yourself.
What I will add is a thanks to Dwayne, who I've probably interviewed a dozen times at this point. He is one of the best at the publicity part of the business, a big presence who always seems engaged and excited by the process. He has a phenomenal memory considering how many people he must meet, and he has a knack for picking up a conversation from six months ago as if it was yesterday. I've seen him work a number of different rooms, and he always gives it his full energy. After all of that, I figured he'd be nice to Allen, but I don't think he has any idea how much it meant to that quiet little five-year-old on Saturday. Allen hasn't stopped talking about it since then, and that Roadblock figure now sleeps right next to Allen every night. As Film Nerd 2.0 experiences go, this is one of the ones that left a huge impression on my little boy, and it was inordinately kind of all involved to help make it happen.
I'll have my interview with Dwayne here a little later in the week.
"G.I. Joe: Retaliation" opens everywhere this Friday.