Stu Bennett is one of the modern greats of pro-wrestling, and like many of his contemporaries, he’s begun making the leap into the world of action movies. Previously wrestling in the WWE under the professional name of Wade Barrett, Stu’s gigantic frame and equally immense physical dexterity made him a truly powerful presence in the ring, and one who brought cheering fans around the world to their feet with earthquaking applause every time.
Stu began venturing into movies with 2013’s “Dead Man Down”, later going head-to-head against Scott Adkins in 2016’s “Eliminators”. Stu would further mold his on-screen persona in the role of John Gold in Ross Boyask’s “I Am Vengeance”, reprising the role for the newly released follow-up, “I Am Vengeance: Retaliation”. Whether as a nigh-unstoppable villain or a battle-hardened anti-hero, Stu continues to bring the same charisma and raw kinetic physicality in movies as he did in his pro-wrestling career.
Today, Stu Bennett joins us for an exclusive KFK interview to share his behind-the-scenes experience on the making of “Retaliation”, along with some of the challenges that come with going from pro-wrestling to action movies, and much more!
Hi Stu, welcome to Kung Fu Kingdom! It’s great to connect with you, we hope you’re keeping well?
Hi Brad, I’m doing well, thanks.
How the Pandemic & Lockdown has Affected Things
Awesome. Well, let’s start off with how have you been holding up during the coronavirus lockdown?
Well, the entertainment industry is basically toast for 2020, but I’m in a position to pay the bills, and there are a lot of people with health worries and things like that that have bigger problems than me, so I’m not in a position to complain. As long as family and friends are okay, that’s the biggest thing for me.
Yes, it’s definitely been a very unfortunate turn of events. On a more positive note, our mission is to encourage 100 million people around the world to get into martial arts for all the positive benefits that it brings to people; physically, mentally and socially – what do you think about this goal? What you think of the name Kung Fu Kingdom (or KFK for short)?
I think the name’s great and that’s a great thing you guys are doing. I wasn’t as much involved martial arts growing up, but I did a lot of rugby and track, and later in life, I got into some Olympic-style wrestling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I think anytime you can encourage people to be active in a regimented manner, it does great things for them mentally, health-wise, and in building confidence.
On Playing ‘John Gold’ in the Vengeance Movies
Absolutely! Now, looking at the “Vengeance” movies, you appear very at home in the role of ‘John Gold’. Is this a franchise you would like to see grow?
“Retaliation” is the second movie we’ve done with John Gold, but we’re definitely hopeful to continue to grow with it, especially with being so early in his story. As an actor, it’s rare to get the opportunity to be involved in a franchise, especially being so early in my acting career. I’ve had a lot of growth as a performer, and so has John Gold where I’m able to explore different aspects of him, so I definitely hope to keep developing the character.
On Staying Ready for Action instead of Having to Get Ready…
Speaking of which, “Retaliation” is pretty much non-stop action. How did you prepare physically for the day-to-day filming of the various action scenes?
Well, I’ve spent the better part of the last twenty years wrestling, and I still train pretty hard even though I’m retired. Physical fitness is something I take a lot of pride in, so I still do a lot of weight training and cardio. One of the challenges of that when it comes to action movies is that you don’t often have a lot a lot of warning in advance when you’re doing indie movies. You get the call, but then you’ll need to be prepared really quickly. I’m a believer in the idea of ‘stay ready, then you don’t need to get ready’, and that’s something that’s good to follow when you’re doing action movies and movies.
Stu’s Favourite Action Scenes in “I Am Vengeance: Retaliation”
So, what would you say is your favourite action sequence in the movie?
Well, there are about sixteen fights, and I’m in about eight of them, but I think my favorite was with Katrina Durden. I’d never done a fight with a woman before, so I was a bit scared about being twice her size. At the same time, when you’re doing fight scenes, you want to give it everything and not pull punches. Doing that fight scene, Katrina really kicked my a**.
When I woke up the next day, I had plenty of bruises, and fortunately it was a day off (laughs). So, I’d have to say my fight with Katrina was my favorite of the movie, it was a good contrast of speed and nimbleness versus size and strength. Katrina’s really talented, and I think she’s going to go on to be a big star.
On Working (& Talking Footie) with Vinnie Jones
No doubt! Speaking of co-stars in “Retaliation”, what was one really memorable moment working with co-star Vinnie Jones? We understand you are a fan of Preston North End F.C. Did you talk much about football with Vinnie Jones?
Vinnie Jones is, of course, a huge star in the UK, and I was always a big fan of his, so it was great to have the chance to work with him. As far as the action, his fighting style was more down and dirty, he’s more of a bar room brawler.
He’s also a really underrated actor, and he’s worked with some of the best in the business during his career, so I really picked his brain and leaned on him for advice. When we had some down time on the set, I also really enjoyed every second grilling him about his soccer career. It was a real boyhood dream to work alongside Vinnie Jones, but I’m sure he was glad to see back of my head after all the grilling I did on his soccer days! (Both laugh).
On Working with Director: Ross Boyask
So, what interesting stories can you share about working with director Ross Boyask on this film and its predecessor?
I actually met Ross in the parking lot while filming “Eliminators”. He had a script and told me about this character John Gold that he thought I’d be perfect for. I read the script and thought it was great, and our relationship clicked from there. We’re very good friends, and Ross is really great to bounce ideas off of.
He’s the biggest action movie nerd you could ever meet, and he can quote just about every 80’s action film character. He has so much talent with the pen and being able to see what others can’t, and I’m never offended when he pulls me aside to correct something, and he’s also fine with me doing the same. He’s got the next two “Vengeance” scripts written, so we’ll have to wait and see where it goes from there.
Transitioning from Pro-Wrestling to Action Movies
Well, it’d certainly be great to continue following John Gold’s exploits! On to another topic, how would you describe your transition from pro-wrestling to making action films? What are some of the differences between the two?
Well, one of the biggest differences is that in pro-wrestling, you have a 360-degree audience and cameras everywhere, and you’re also taking real hits. With the camera work in a movie, you’re able to avoid connecting ninety-nine percent of the time.
WWE RAW Classic: Stu Bennett (as Bad News Barrett) vs Sheamus
One of the biggest challenges going from pro-wrestling to movies is that wrestling involves so much ad-lib and bouncing off the crowd. In filmmaking, you have to be very precise in how you move or the camera just isn’t going to pick it up correctly.
Most Demanding Action Moments in “Retaliation”
On the topic of precision, what was the most physically demanding moment for you in the making of “Retaliation”? Were there any injuries or mishaps that occurred in the making?
Probably the biggest one for me was when I was coming face-to-face with Vinnie Jones for the first time. It involved ducking behind a barrel and doing a somersault roll while holding a gun. When we did it the first time, I did the roll in such a way as to try to protect the gun, and I basically ended up hitting the concrete in the roll. Fortunately, the second take came out better!
Katrina also had a mask over her face to conceal her identity, and it was so dark under there, she could barely see me, so she was basically doing a lot of jumping and kicking at me blind, and we both caught each other with a few of those. That’s the kind of thing that’s part of what you accept in making action movies, but for the most part, everything was very safe.
On Working with Action Superstar Scott Adkins
Glad to hear the knocks weren’t too hard! Looking into the past a bit now, one of the your most notable previous roles was in 2016’s “Eliminators” opposite Scott Adkins. What can you share about the experience of making that film and shooting your fight scenes with Scott. How does that compare to the “Vengeance” movies?
When I did “Eliminators”, that was made with WWE Studios, and I was still a full-time pro-wrestler at the time. So I stepped away from wrestling for about four weeks for that movie.
It was a world apart from pro-wrestling for me with not a whole lot of time. Fortunately, Scott is one of the best is in the business, and it was a great learning experience working with him. It’s easy to pick up bad habits if you’re working with inexperienced people, but Scott and the fight coordinator Tim Man are really great pros.
Stu’s Dream Co-Stars
Totally! Looking ahead now, you’ve also worked alongside actors such as Colin Farrell, Dominic Cooper, Terrence Howard, and martial -arts screen veteran, Gary Daniels. Who would be your ultimate or dream co-star?
Well, being a child of the 80’s, doing anything with Arnold or Sly would be incredible and a dream come true. Jason Statham is also basically the biggest British star, so I’d love to work with him, and I think Jason Momoa would be great too. In another life, I think he could’ve been a pro-wrestler himself.
Stu Bennett’s Top 5 Action & Martial-Arts Movies
He’s definitely been an amazing Aquaman, for sure! So, what are Stu Bennett’s Top 5 favourite martial-arts or action movies of all time?
I definitely love a lot of the 80’s action movies, and some of my favorites are “Predator”, the “Terminator” movies, “Running Man”, and the “Rocky” movies. I also really loved some of Van Damme’s movies from that time like “Bloodsport” and “Kickboxer”.
Great 80’s classics! Well, as we prepare to sign off Stu, what other projects do you have in the works after “Retaliation”?
Well, obviously it’s a little difficult to say anything for sure with the pandemic. One project I’m involved with is a marine biology show in the UK. I also had gotten a new agent before the pandemic hit, and that’s opened a lot of doors in the UK. Living in L.A., the industry is basically on hold right now with the pandemic, so it’s hard to predict. The biggest thing I’d love to do would be continuing forward with “I Am Vengeance”, but we’ll just have to wait and see…
We’re definitely keen to see more of John Gold, too! Thank you so much for speaking with us today Stu, it’s been a genuine pleasure, and we look forward to see what other action projects you’re involved in soon!
Thank you Brad, been really great speaking to Kung Fu Kingdom!
We hope you liked this interview with wrestling superstar Stu Bennett! “I Am Vengeance: Retaliation” is out in the USA and the UK courtesy of Evolutionary Films and you can catch it on Amazon!
Who are some of your favourite pro-wrestlers to make the leap to action movies, and which films and fight scenes rumbled you the most so far? Let us know in the comments below; Like, share and join in the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter & Instagram!
KEEP YOUR WRESTLE GAME ON: drop into the FUniverse, and click on these Top 5’s, Top 10’s, and our exclusive interview with Stu’s fellow WWE pro-wrestler extraordinaire Rob Van Dam! Channel your training vengeance while wearing Official KFK gear, and STAY READY TO RUMBLE by subscribing for more fight action on YouTube!