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Dwyane Johnson in 'Fast x' (2023) | Image: Universal Pictures

‘The Smashing Machine’ will be Dwayne Johnson’s ‘Most Dramatic’ Role Ever


Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is stepping beyond his signature action-comedy persona to tackle a new kind of challenge in the upcoming emotional drama, The Smashing Machine. Benny Safdie, co-writer and co-director of A24’s acclaimed Uncut Gems, is making his solo directorial debut, set to helm and pen the script for the studio’s upcoming biopic.

Johnson will be starring as Mark Kerr, the iconic American wrestler and MMA legend, who held two UFC Heavyweight Tournament titles, the World Vale Tudo Championship tournament title, and is a four-time ADCC World Champion, winning his division twice and the absolute division.

With over two dozen MMA victories to his name, he was the subject of the 2003 HBO documentary ‘The Smashing Machine,’ from which this movie likely also gets its name. Safdie’s and Johnson’s upcoming feature will explore the legendary UFC fighter’s struggles with addiction, love, and the brutal realities of combat in the “no-holds-barred” era of the sport.

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The Rock Dwayne Johnson
Image: Aaron Davidson/Getty Images

As per the film’s official synopsis; “The Smashing Machine is a drama based on the story of Mark Kerr, the legendary MMA fighter from the no-holds-barred era of the UFC at the peak of his career. He struggles with addiction, winning, love and friendship in the year 2000,” marking “The Rock’s move into his most dramatic project and role yet”.

Johnson and Dany Garcia’s Seven Bucks Productions acquired the rights in 2019, and A24 has now joined as a financier and producer. Benny Safdie’s Out for the Count banner, Eli Bush, and David Koplan are also involved. Safdie and Johnson have been actively shaping the project since 2019, with A24 joining as a key partner. “Dwayne and Benny are singular talents, and their shared vision for Mark’s inspiring story is electrifying,” A24’s Noah Sacco said in a statement (via IndieWire).

“We are deeply honoured to have their trust as collaborators in bringing this incredibly special project to life.” Apart from this, there’s not much known about the project, including additional cast details or how far along the film is. Beyond his current slate, Benny Safdie has another project in collaboration with his brother Josh Safdie, reuniting with Adam Sandler in a film described as a loose thematic sequel to Uncut Gems.

The Smashing Machine‘ is currently without an official release date.

Adam Safie, Adam Sandler and Josh Safdie | Image: Chris Pizzello/Associated Press
Adam Safie, Adam Sandler and Josh Safdie | Image: Chris Pizzello/Associated Press