Nathan Jones is in the city and all geared up to fight Jayam Ravi
As I spot the incredibly built WWE star Nathan Jones walking towards me, I nervously make a mental note to play it safe. The bulky Australian has been roped in to play the role of a World boxing champion opposite Jayam Ravi in Bhooloham. The assistant director however assures me that the wrestler is a cool guy.
Nathan Jones arrives with a black jacket pulled over his huge shoulders and reaches out to shake my hand. It doesn’t take me long to realise that the size of his palm is at least four times that of mine. So how is Chennai treating him?“It looks busy…very busy,” he observes and adds, “The people here are welcoming. They are cheering me after every shot.”
After appearing in movies such as Troy (Remember the scene in which Brad Pitt stabs a giant?), how did he find himself playing villain in a Tamil film? “They were looking for someone to play an international boxer and they were convinced I would fit the bill. My job here is to lift the film by getting the crowd rooting for the hero,” he says.
Jones is certainly not the first wrestler to face the camera and he won’t be the last. The stunning physique of wrestlers make them an attractive inclusion in big budget action movies. Jones arrived in Chennai few days back straight from the sets of Mad Max: Fury Road. Like other famous sports entertainers, he has made a successful transition from being a marauding wrestler inside the ring to making significant appearances in action movies. What is the reason? “We (wrestlers) are trying to branch out. Exploring more avenues where we could possibly be of use,” he says.
To be in the business of sports entertainment is more like working as an actor in a theatre company. “Wrestlers are performers. They perform dangerous stunts in front of huge crowds and they just have one chance to get it right,” he smiles.
None of this would have been possible without his chiselled physique. He was born big. In fact, he says he could have well been one of the biggest babies in Australia. “I was 26 inches long on the day I was born. I was told that my mom couldn’t sit straight,” he laughs.
He has always been a big boy, who, as a result, could never play a sport. “My football coach would ask me to hit the opponents hard, and I would knock them off. Their parents obviously had issues with me. They would tell my coach, ‘Keep that freak away’,” he says. When did he actually realise that he had a body that can make heads turn? “When I was introduced to power lifting in prison,” he reveals. From then on, Nathan started training in kick boxing and boxing. This training would later come in handy as he embarked on his career as a professional wrestler and of course as an actor in action movies.
What got him excited about Bhooloham? “It has got a great script. To me it looks like Rocky IV with an Indian flavour to it,” he says and adds, “The script evokes a sense of Indian pride.”
I finally ask him a question on behalf of every WWE fan on this planet: how much of what they do inside the ring is actually true? “We are stunt men. Inside the ring, we are performing stunts. We’ve had instances where wrestlers have died inside the ring. Broken collar bones are common. When you see someone bleeding, it is real. It does hurt,” he clarifies. Does that mean we will never see him throwing people in the ring? “You never know,” he says with a wink.