David Otunga takes break from WWE to star in movie with Halle Berry
By By Arda Ocal
Mar 13, 2013 | 3:24 PM
Looking at his overall resume, you could say that David Otunga is one of the most successful people among the WWE Superstars. Aside from achieving the near impossible task of cracking the WWE roster, Otunga graduated from Harvard with a law degree. Now, he has added another big item to his resume - actor.
A lifelong dream of his, Otunga can now claim he has shared the big screen with Hollywood darling and Academy Award winner Halle Berry in "The Call," WWE Studios' latest release.
Berry plays, Jordan, a 911 operator, who is trying to forget her disturbing past but is suddenly forced to confront it when she receives a call from Casey, distressed teenager in serious danger. In order to rescue the girl, Jordan must confront the horrors of her past and come face to face with a deranged killer who is not yet ready to finish his violent game of cat and mouse with Jordan. In the film, Otunga plays young gun police officer Jake Devans.
I spoke with David Otunga this week to talk about the film, balancing acting/WWE/law and plenty of other topics.
I auditioned for the director Brad Anderson. I went and read some scenes for him and luckily he liked what I did. So he cast me in the film. I went up for the role against other actors. Luckily I made it; I was against people who have been in the business a very long time.
Do you have an acting background?
Oh yeah, I've wanted to be an actor since I was a kid, even before WWE. I've been taking acting classes for years, through high school and college and even up until WWE; I still make time to go back to acting class at least once a week.
So this is something you want as part of your life and career then?
Oh yeah it's been a goal of mine since I was a kid so it's something I've been working towards.
When you got this role then, and you knew you were going to be in a movie with the likes of Halle Berry, what was going through your mind?
That this is finally it, this is what I've dreamed about, this is what I've worked hard for all my life and I finally got this opportunity and it couldn't of been any better. To share the screen with an Academy Award winner for my first role, how many people can say that they did that?
When you got on set for the first day and you saw that this is really happening, you saw the set, you saw the people, did you get the feeling you were at home?
You know what, I did. I felt very comfortable and it's because it's something I've always wanted to do, so when I got there it was unexpected it was a great feeling.
Tell me about your role in the film?
A little girl gets kidnapped and Halle Berry plays the 911 operator who fields the call. I play a police officer, Officer Jake Devans who works with Halle to try and find the little girl. Officer Devans is a good guy, a young gun. He takes his job serious but sometimes a little to serious, so he's a little over zealous because his heart is in the right place and he just wants to do the right thing.
How did you like playing the good guy in the movie? Being that the WWE Universe has mostly seen you as a bad guy.
(Laughs) It was a bit different for me. It was fun, I really enjoy being a good guy, and I consider myself a good guy in real life anyways so it was good.
Give us an idea of what your days were like when you were filming? How long you were on set and how many days did you have to shoot for the film?
We shot for a little under two months. The days were great, you get there and they just call you in when you have to do a scene so you get a lot of down time. But you're in a trailer for a long time, your scenes are laid out for you so you know your lines already, which is a new thing going in for me. In WWE we're sometimes handed something at the last minute, like 'here you go to pages' or 'oh we're changing our minds,' so with this we had the scenes for months. I was comfortable so when it was time to do our scenes they would come and take you to set, we'd knock it out and when you were done you got to go home. It's easy.
Were there any funny or touching moments that you shared with any of your cast mates?
It was cool just seeing the cast mates in their downtime. I mean Halle Berry just hanging out with her, talking with her about her kid and sharing pictures and stuff. She has a daughter who is about my son's age that was really cool. Getting to hang out with Morris Chestnut, that was cool. He plays my partner in the movie. We really just hung out a lot; most of our scenes were together. It was really nice on the set.
On (a recent episode of) RAW there was a funny skit where Halle Berry is answering her phone during a press interview and you were involved and Kane was involved. I was pleasantly surprised that Halle Berry had that kind of sense of humor.
She is really funny and really down to earth, I think that surprises a lot of people. She is really cool I can't say enough good things about her.
You mentioned you were on set for two months. How did you juggle that with your WWE schedule? Or did you have a break from the road?
I took a break from the road so I could just focus on acting. I wanted to completely be in character and that was something that really meant a lot to me. I really wanted to portray the character well and not look like I was acting but like I actually was that character. I did a lot of things in my downtime, I went on a ride along with police officers in Los Angeles, which was amazing, and I got to see what their daily life is like. I have so much respect for them it was unbelievable. I watched a whole bunch of cop films and TV shows and I asked the police officers which ones they thought were great. They told me 'Southland' was great and it was a really good one, so I started watching that and I love that show now and in certain scenes he's pretty spot on. I went to one of the diners that the police officers go to a lot and I went to one of the barbers where they get their hair cut, I was just trying to be a police officer.
While you were off from WWE for two months, did you get that itch to return that many WWE Superstars get when they are off the road?
It was definitely different. All I've done for the past three years is WWE non-stop. You get used to a certain way of life and certain things. I'm so busy on the road, I don't get downtime, so now with the movie, for the first time in my life and in the past three years I had downtime and it was like I didn't know what to do with myself. So, I might go to the gym and work out and I'd think now what, I don't have to rush to the arena, I don't have to drive to the next city. I got to relax my mind and my body, it was fun. When filming wrapped I was awfully excited to get back, it was cool, and it was the first time I had been away for a while. When I came back I was just ready to go, I was rejuvenated.
You're a Harvard educated lawyer and I'm curious to know, how was that received among your peers when you first joined the WWE?
Truthfully, I don't think people believed it. I think most people thought it was just a gimmick or a character I was playing. From the fans the WWE Universe to the guys in the locker room. I heard even just recently, I did a gig on HLN as a guest legal expert and I heard so many times, "Wow I didn't know you really are a lawyer, that's true?" I would say, 'Yeah, that's true,' I think it's just so out of the ordinary so people just assumed it was a character.
I've heard Vince McMahon say on conference calls in the past that he's not a fan of lawyers. Have you guys talked about this?
That's interesting; he's never been anything but nice and very respectful to me. I actually get along with him great; maybe he doesn't know I'm a lawyer!
Where do you feel you are in your career right now? Where do you feel you would like to get?
Right now I feel I'm on the edge of doing something great and really taking off. Where I would like to get? I would like to be at the top I mean who wouldn't.