John Cena reflects back at his career in 2009
“WWE and sports entertainment walk that gray line. Everyone knows it’s entertainment, everyone. But everyone wants to believe in what’s going on. They don’t ask, even the most iconic superhero characters, they’re known for their performances but they do get to step away. There is a clear-cut difference. In WWE, the audience doesn’t want that. They don’t. And that’s what keeps them coming back and that’s what keeps the train on the tracks. That’s part of it. So I was made aware that I would not undergo a tectonic shift in John Cena, the character, probably around 2009.
So that allowed me to get that conversation off the board, and I had to, or I chose to dive into nuance. If I was going through something in my life, it’s a lot easier to take from that and put those nuances into a performance. And I don’t think I’m alone there. I think a lot of actors use that process of taking upon their emotions, their core emotions that they feel at a certain time, and then projecting them onscreen. I just got so familiar with the character, I could be bored and do the same thing, or I could dive into really small things. And even when the audience said that I was doing the same thing, I knew the changes were so subtle that they wouldn’t see it today, they wouldn’t see it tomorrow, and they wouldn’t see it in a month. But they’d see it over the years. And they would see, truly, the fault lines, just inching along. And it’s that long, boring process, but I don’t have 90 minutes to let them know how I feel. I’d like to say I’d be a part of the WWE family for life, so I’ve got a story to tell for as long as I’m around.”