WWE Hall of Famer Edge on Why Hollywood Loves to Work With Wrestlers

“Vikings” actor, whose real name is Adam Copeland, tells TheWrap that ambitious casting agents should focus on top promo guys

Adam “Edge” Copeland won 31 championships during his time in WWE — that’s more than Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, John Cena or Dave Bautista. But can the “Vikings” star find crossover success in Hollywood comparable to those heavyweights? He’s sure trying, and the easy-to-work-with rep his predecessors have laid is helping pave the path for Copeland’s own transition.

“Wrestling is a very demanding thing,” he told TheWrap. “But you’re also your own manager. You book your own rental cars, you book your own hotels. You carry your own bags. Your day begins as soon as you wake up and it ends when you get to bed. And it could be in a Motel 6 because there are no other hotels open and it’s 4 o’clock in the morning. That keeps you humble and it keeps you hungry.”

Directors notice and appreciate that self-sufficiency and modesty, Copeland said. He doesn’t need to say this next part — we will — neither of those are exactly the norm in Tinsel Town.

Of course, to make it as a television and film actor, you also have to possess certain chops. And something the man that went by “Edge” for so many years (and titles) has in common with guys like Cena and The Rock, particularly, is having been a top promo guy in his day. For the uninitiated, a wrestling “promo” is basically an interview or a monologue setting up the storyline and psychology of matches.

“I think the best promo guys make it sound like it’s not a promo,” Copeland said. “Instead of it sounding like — and obviously the era changed — it wasn’t the ’80s where, like, a Hulk Hogan promo or a Warrior promo or a Macho Man promo worked, because that’s what it was then. It has since become more of a nuanced thing. And it has to sound conversational.”

“It still has to be big and Ultimate Warrior-esque at times because that’s its nature. But there’s a lot more levels and layers now,” Copeland, who started acting on Syfy’s “Haven” as a tie-in to its “SmackDown,” continued. “And I think if you made it to the top with your promos as part of the package, it’s because you could speak and you made it sound like it wasn’t this rehearsed thing. Because a lot of the times it probably isn’t. A lot of the times you probably have bullet points and you’re feeling it. And when you can start to feel an audience and react to what’s happening organically and be able to keep all of those plates in the air, I think it is good training to a set and having a script and going, ‘Right, OK, I can adapt on the fly if the director sees this scene happening a different way. I can adapt on the fly if the other actor takes it this direction’ because you are used to adapting on the fly live.”

In other words, the whole thing is improv within the framework of a defined character. Think that might translate, casting agents?

“One of the amazing things about acting now is that you can try different things and have choices,” Copeland said. “And it may not be how you pictured it going. And just being able to adapt and just try those different things. It’s been really fun.”

Find out if Copeland pulls off this next step in his career when “Vikings” returns to History channel on Nov. 28. And check back with TheWrap soon for more from our interview with Edge.

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