The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels broke a lot of hearts when he retired from professional wrestling seven years ago. But don’t fret, WWE Universe, you can now get your fix of the fan-favorite in the movies. The Christian movies, that is.
Michaels stars in the upcoming “Resurrection of Gavin Stone” as ex-con Doug, a reformed man and mechanic who has turned his life over to God. Doug helps former child star and Hollywood bad boy Gavin Stone (Brett Dalton) change his raucous ways and find some faith. While it may not be the “Sweet Chin Music” that people are used to seeing out of Michaels, the 51-year-old told TheWrap that wrestling at least partially prepared him for his acting debut.
“The first thing that people notice [is] that you’re comfortable in front of a camera,” he said of his years cutting promos.
That doesn’t mean this transition is an easy one, however. What the WWE Hall of Famer told us he finds most challenging about this new endeavor is “trying to convince people that you are not Shawn Michaels, and that you are becoming this person.”
If anyone is wondering why that persona may be more difficult for Michaels to shed than most, go watch his “WrestleMania X” ladder match against Razor Ramon. The guy was pretty amazing in the ring, and fame followed. Also, you’re welcome for the recommendation.
Speaking of his heyday, the legend himself assured us that he could still physically work a match today.
“For sure, yeah. I’m probably in better shape now than I was I when left,” he said. “You’d be surprised what rest and time can do for the body, not being on the road and having the opportunity to keep your diet.”
“I didn’t retire because of pains and aches or anything like that — it was 100 percent time,” Michaels, whose son was 10 and daughter five when he hung his tights up, added. “These [were] times in my children’s lives that you don’t ever get back.”
The kids are older now, but don’t get too excited. Yes, Michaels may be on “Monday Night Raw” this evening, but he’s not planning a wrestling comeback. The Degeneration X co-founder is happy to promote “Gavin Stone” on the highly rated flagship cable series, and even to make an occasional appearance when former boss Vince McMahon calls on him — but Michaels told us there’s “no desire to wrestle anybody” left.
Sorry fans — at least you’ve got Goldberg.
For Michaels, it’s all about family and acting now — in that order. And he’s looking forward to more of both.
“I very much enjoyed the process. I always wanted to try my hand at acting,” Michaels, who said he has “a couple other” opportunities currently, said in our conversation. “Even though I had offers to do WWE movies in the past, I don’t consider myself a very good multitasker.”
“Unlike a lot of the other guys who did movies and still wrestled, I just didn’t want to do that, because I knew that wrestling kept me busy enough, and now you’re going to do a movie on top of it?” he continued. “That means you’re never at home. I certainly was not going to do that.”
Plus, the rare heights he personally reached would have made it impossible to inhabit another character for film at the time.
“We sort of get stereotyped in a particular role, anyway. It’s sort of hard for people to see you as anything other than being Shawn Michaels, the Heartbreak Kid,” he reiterated. “On one hand, I’ve always embraced that and enjoyed it. But at the same time, as an individual, you have other interests, you want to try other things.”
The challenge, he says, is whether or not an audience will accept that.
The niche for “Gavin Stone” certainly should. But, as with most genre films, the cast and crew would like to see outsiders enjoying their hard work. No one here wants to beat the audience over the head with their Bibles, Michaels assured us — but he’s realistic.
“Clearly, [director Dallas Jenkins] is a Christian filmmaker, so to speak,” Michaels put it. “And then a number of us happen to be Christians.”
But instead of calling it a Christian film, Michaels likens this one to “an inspirational comedy,” pulling out some pretty solid parallels to Whoopi Goldberg’s “Sister Act.”
“It was a comedy, but it happened to take place in a church,” he said of the 1992 hit film. “It was about this outsider that came in and was trying to hide from something.”
Check — in “Gavin Stone,” the ficticious title character is forced to do community service at a local megachurch, where he pretends to be a Christian to land the part of Jesus in their annual Passion Play. From there, personal change becomes possible.
“The influence of all these people that they encountered had an effect on them as an individual,” Michaels concluded his comparison. “This movie is very much the same thing.”
There will be one giant difference, of course. The much wider released and bigger budgeted “Sister Act” hauled in nearly $140 million at the box office. That would be nothing short of a miracle for “Gavin Stone.”
But hey, welcome to Hollywood and dream big, (Heartbreak) Kid. He may no longer be moonsaulting, but Shawn Michaels is still shooting for the stars.
Check out Michaels in “The Resurrection of Gavin Stone” on Jan. 20, and on “Raw” tonight at 8 p.m. on the USA Network. Read more from our interview with Michaels here.