Dwayne Johnson as Mark Kerr in 'The Smashing Machine'
(A24)

First Look at Dwayne Johnson as Mark Kerr for ‘The Smashing Machine’ Biopic

A24 released the first look at Dwayne Johnson’s upcoming biopic The Smashing Machine, which will see him portray American former wrestler and MMA star Mark Kerr.

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Benny Safdie, one half of the director duo of the Safdie brothers, is attached to direct. The story will follow the highs and lows of Kerr’s life, which was earlier documented in a 2002 HBO documentary The Smashing Machine: The Life and Times of Extreme Fighter Mark Kerr. Johnson looks unrecognizable in the first look, as the American actor has had to ditch his typical bald appearance and cover up his tattoos.

The subject of the film, Mark Kerr, is a two-time UFC Heavyweight Tournament Champion who broke into the wrestling scene at a very young age. Kerr had aspirations of featuring in the World Wrestling Federation since he was a kid and was a Division I national champion at Syracuse University. He combined his success at the college level with strong performances at World Cups and World Championships, managing to win a silver medal at the 1995 Pan American Games.

Kerr pivoted to MMA following an unsuccessful attempt at qualification for the 1996 Summer Olympics. During his MMA career, he featured in three championships—Brazil’s World Vale Tudo Championship, America’s Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), and Japan’s Pride Fighting Championships—which he joined after UFC encountered promotional hiccups, which then led to underwhelming paychecks.

During his career, Mark Kerr faced substance abuse issues, mainly with painkillers. This addiction triggered his downfall, both in his personal and professional lives. He had a massive fallout with his then-girlfriend Dawn Staples (they married later), and the excess painkiller usage led to him underperforming consistently. The aforementioned HBO documentary chronicles his battle with addiction in depth, featuring accounts from Staples and other confidants.

Since his retirement in 2010, Kerr has been vocal about his addiction issues. In June 2019, he revealed that he had been fighting peripheral neuropathy since 2016, and he had to set up a GoFundMe for his treatment.


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