Seth Rollins is used to the instant feedback that comes from a live WWE audience. His music hits and he knows what the fans think. He executes a move and he knows whether the fans like it or not. That is among the things that makes Rollins’ feature film debut so unique in Armed Response, which comes out Friday in theaters in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta and Phoenix and video-on-demand platforms.
Rollins filmed the movie in late 2016 when he was still sidelined after knee surgery in November 2015. He’s been waiting months to see how the fans will react. “Something like this was a lot different than what I’m used to,” he told For The Win. “There’s no audience watching you with a boo or a yeah whenever something bad or good happens. I’m very curious to see what our fanbase is going to think of it and what the response will be overall to my performance.
Doing something like this where you’re at a location and you’re in the same place every day and you’re doing the same scene three, four, five, six, seven, eight times in a row to get the different camera angles was a very interesting experience for me.”
For Colby Lopez – the man behind the WWE character Seth Rollins – this was a chance to play someone other than Rollins, the persona he took on shortly after signing a developmental contract with WWE in 2010. In the movie, he plays Brett, who is part of a team of special forces soldiers who approach the designer of a high-tech military compound – known as the Temple — to investigate the disappearance of another group that was guarding the facility. After the facility’s artificial intelligence shuts down, the team experiences horrific phenomena.
Rollins said he worked with an acting coach over the phone to review ways to play Brett and different approaches. While WWE has producers who work with the talent, Rollins always has a sense of who his character is.
“I’m firmly entrenched in the Seth Rollins character,” he said. “It is so close to who I am as a person, we’re almost overtly intertwined. And this was different because I got to play a completely separate character. I got to play someone who was totally outside of myself and it was a very interesting process to kind of get into the idea of finding that character, finding Brett within myself.”
The film was produced by Erebus Pictures, a collaboration between WWE Studios and Gene Simmons. As is the case with most WWE Studios films, WWE talent rarely has to audition or read for the roles. Rollins was deemed a good fit and was available because he was not on the road while doing rehab. Rollins turned to Dean Ambrose, his former partner in The Shield, for advice. Ambrose had starred in 12 Rounds 3: Lockdown, a WWE Studios film that was released in September 2015. “Neither of us had ever had any aspirations of being in movies or movie stars or anything like that, but he had just gotten off doing his new movie that had come out a year prior,” Rollins said. “I was just curious to see what the process was like for him, so I could get an idea of anything I needed to do or etiquette-wise how to act or anything that was different from what I normally am used to.”
Rollins says he loves movies and tries to hit the theater on days off on the road or a few hours to kill, or he’ll put on Netflix in the hotel room. What’s different about Armed Response is Rollins says he’s “not a horror guy.” “This is not my genre in any way,” he said. “I like a good suspense thriller when it’s smart and well done like Armed Response is. I liked that part of it, but action movies or horror flicks are not my cup of tea so that was definitely different to be involved in something like that …This was a good time – it was a lot of fun to film. We filmed down in Southern Louisiana in a prison. We were in there for 30 days so it was a pretty cool experience to try something outside the box.”
Rollins stayed in New Orleans during filming, and will be eager to return when WrestleMania 34 rolls into town in April. WrestleMania 30 was in New Orleans in 2014. “I wasn’t a huge fan of the city, to be honest with you, so to be able to spend an entire month there and really get to know the people and experience the culture – it was a lot more fun than I thought it would be,” he said. “I actually grew to have an affection for the place now. Now I’ve got all my spots so I’m looking forward to going back and spending time there again.”
The movie also stars Wesley Snipes, Anne Heche and Dave Annable.
Asked about Snipes, in particular, Rollins uses a word most might use to describe Snipes, cool. “He’s like that really cool, calm and collected type of guy who’s like scary but also so smart and interesting in that way,” Rollinss aid. “He’s the guy that doesn’t talk much and you want him to talk more because he’s so reserved, and then when you get him in front of a camera, he’s just so cool. He’s just a cool dude to be around as a person and he’s just phenomenal as an actor with a lot of great history with great movies and great roles.”