'Hobbs & Shaw' Premiere: Dwayne Johnson Showcases Samoan Heritage
"This movie is really deeply personal to me because I am proudly half black and half Samoan, and we were able to showcase one of my cultures," the actor told THR of the 'Fast and the Furious' spinoff.
Thousands of screaming fans lined both sides of Hollywood Boulevard on Saturday afternoon to celebrate the world premiere of Hobbs & Shaw, the first spinoff movie from the hugely successful Fast and the Furious franchise. Stars Dwayne Johnson, Jason Statham, Idris Elba and Vanessa Kirby all walked a gray carpet that was lined with high-performance motorcycles, a McLaren sports car and even a rusted pickup truck.
Playing to their characters' contrasting personalities, Statham arrived in a black luxury SUV, while Johnson roared up to the carpet in an old, battered tow truck.
The film features a large cast of Samoan actors and the traditional Samoan exclamation of “chee hoo” rang out loudly several times on the carpet and during some of the film’s most exciting action sequences.
WWE star Roman Reigns, who plays Johnson’s brother in the film, told The Hollywood Reporter why Johnson’s success meant so much to Pacific Islanders such as himself.
"We're so proud of him," Reigns said. "We're so proud of not only the levels that he's reached, but to be able to maintain and to be genuine and to stay grounded is one of the toughest things in the world to do when you’ve experienced that much success. That's a testament to himself, his personality and especially his upbringing through his mother and his father."
Johnson spoke to THR about why it was important to him to represent his culture on the big screen.
"This is why this movie is really deeply personal to me because I am proudly half black and half Samoan, and we were able to showcase one of my cultures in this movie and it was very special because never before has a movie of this size and scale, in the history of Hollywood have we ever showcased this tiny island and this culture of Samoa and I’m very proud of that," he said.
The sweltering summer heat did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of the massive crowd that turned out to catch a glimpse of the stars, and both Statham and Johnson took the time to sign autographs and take selfies with fans.
Statham spoke to THR about why the franchise was able to inspire such intense loyalty from fans.
"It's one of the most fun things you can do. We make action films, and a lot of the time, we never really get the chance to have fun with it," he said. "There's a lot of things at stake. I think what the most significant part of that is that the characters are so defined, yet they’re so separate and different.”
Elba, a newcomer to the franchise, told THR why he was excited to play the film's supervillain, Brixton.
"It's good, it's a real sort of experience," Elba said. "I feel like I’ve got a real unique character to play since he's part man, part machine, and I feel that the Fast and Furious franchise has done amazing. Hobbs & Shaw allows you to step outside of it into a different reality."
At one point, there was as much action in the theater as there was on the screen. About 20 minutes into the movie, someone spilled water on an electrical outlet located under one of the seats and it began to spark and pop, causing fans in several rows to evacuate. The movie was stopped, the lights came up and technicians looked into the problem.
During the break, Johnson jumped on stage and addressed the audience, joking that he had stayed to make sure everyone was all right, while his co-star Statham ran out of the theater. After a few minutes the problem was fixed, audience members returned to their seats and the film restarted without further problems.
The film earned several rounds of applause, both for its jaw-dropping action sequences, as well as some of the surprise movie star cameos.
Hobbs & Shaw will hit screens across the country Aug. 1.