Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson attends the 95th Annual Academy Awards

Dwayne Johnson Wants To Flex More Than His Biceps in A24’s MMA Movie

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is heading back to the ring, though this time it’s the MMA ring, in a biopic for A24 titled The Smashing Machine. The actor’s return to his fighting roots also marks the solo feature directorial debut of Benny Safdie.

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The Smashing Machine looks at the life and career of MMA fighter Mark Kerr and is already being touted as Johnson’s most dramatic project yet. Johnson has made a name for himself over the last decade as one of the most bankable actors in Hollywood, with a number of action blockbusters and action comedies that show off his strength and humor. The Smashing Machine may give Johnson another chance to prove he has some range, even if it will likely be somewhat action-centric.

The film will follow the meteoric rise of Kerr’s MMA career at a time when the UFC was in its “no holds barred” era. It will also look at the former fighter’s struggle with addiction as well as his love life. Kerr was already the subject of a documentary back in 2003, which bears the same title as this upcoming film.

In his time Kerr won many medals and trophies, including a gold medal at the 1994 World Championships held in Edmonton, and is a two-time UFC Heavyweight Tournament Champion. In the early 2000s though, Kerr was flagging and lost many matches in Japan at the Pride Fighting Championships. When he joined, he was considered one of the best MMA fighters in the world, but during his time there Kerr had to deal with a string of losses, which resulted in him allegedly turning to painkillers.

In a statement reported by IndieWire,  A24’s Noah Sacco said, “Dwayne and Benny are singular talents, and their shared vision for Mark’s inspiring story is electrifying. We are deeply honored to have their trust as collaborators in bringing this incredibly special project to life.”

Safdie is known for working with his brother Josh Safdie on such projects as Uncut Gems and Good Time, though both are now looking to make a mark separate from one another with Benny working on The Smashing Machine and Josh on a Netflix film featuring Adam Sandler and set in the world of sports memorabilia collectors.

Johnson and Safdie have both been communicating on the project since the rights were acquired back in 2019, with Johnson and Dany Garcia’s Seven Bucks Productions producing alongside Safdie’s Out for the Count banner, Eli Bush and David Koplan. A24 has recently come on board as the financier and producer.

(featured image: Arturo Holmes, Getty Images)

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Laura Pollacco
Laura Pollacco (she/her) is a contributing writer here at The Mary Sue, having written for digital media since 2022 and has a keen interest in all things Marvel, Lord of the Rings, and anime. She has worked for various publications including We Got This Covered, but much of her work can be found gracing the pages of print and online publications in Japan, where she resides. Outside of writing she treads the boards as an actor, is a portrait and documentary photographer, and takes the little free time left to explore Japan.