Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Zac Efron and John Cena talk ‘Ricky Stanicky’

Clara Faulkner

In a tale of childhood mischief turned lifelong deception, three inseparable friends concocted a clever ruse that endured over two decades. When a harmless prank took an unexpected turn, Dean, JT, and Wes (played by Zac Efron, Andrew Santino, and Jermaine Fowler, respectively) invented the fictitious persona of Ricky Stanicky to evade the consequences. Twenty-two years later, they continue to rely on this phantom figure as a convenient excuse for their less-than-adult antics.

In an roundtable interview with the Beacon, Zac Efron, who plays the role of Dean, and John Cena, portraying the eccentric “Rock Hard” Rod, delved into the intricate layers of their characters directed by Peter Farrelly, set to hit Amazon Prime on March 7. 

Efron, known for his versatility in both comedic and dramatic roles, shared his insights on Dean’s evolution from a carefree prankster to a man grappling with the consequences of his actions. Cena, a larger-than-life figure in both the wrestling ring and Hollywood, discussed the challenges and delights of bringing the outlandish yet oddly endearing Rod to life on screen. During the interview, Cena revealed a dynamic aspect of the film’s development.

“There’s a little bit of friction between the two of us. A decision we both made … was when the friction came to a boiling point,” Cena said. “Instead of a massive litany of heavily choreographed stunts, we wanted each person to reflect how they would genuinely be in a fight. I didn’t know how we would craft Rod.”

Cena provided insight into the detailed process of crafting his character, Rod, portraying him as an imposing figure. Rod was described as a presence with a downtrodden demeanor, embodying the persona of a fighter willing to go to great length for territory and opportunities. This characterization prompted the team to contemplate how Rod would authentically navigate conflicts—relying on his intimidating presence to avoid altercations yet lacking finesse when forced into physical confrontations.

“Rod became this hulk of a man who was a beaten dog because if he was a fighter and he would, by any means necessary, take territory and opportunity, he wouldn’t be playing in clubs off the strip in Atlantic City. Little choices like that ledv to, ‘Okay, when it’s time to fight, how would this dude fight?’” Cena said. “He stays out of fights by looking intimidating, but when he gets in fights, he doesn’t fight so well. That was a choice we all talked about. We all came up with the action for when the conflict comes to a boiling point.”

Efron further explained the character dynamics, emphasizing the need for the best friends to be harsh towards Rod’s character once he becomes Ricky.

“Another one that I was very cognizant of was making sure that there was the potential for sort of the best friends to be rather harsh towards Rod’s character or Ricky’s character,” Efron said. “I wanted to make sure that Dean had that moment where he came in and was like, ‘Chill out man,’ like it reaches out. That was day one, by the way. A choice made on the first day in the casino. That was important.”

As the film unfolds, viewers will witness the trio’s misguided attempt to erase their past through the creation of Ricky Stanicky, setting the stage for a hilarious yet poignant exploration of friendship, deception, and the unexpected twists that life can throw their way. 

Through their candid reflections, Efron and Cena reveal the heart and humor of “Ricky Stanicky,” promising audiences a wild ride of laughter, absurdity, and perhaps a touch of poignant introspection. Transitioning to Cena’s perspective on second chances, he brings a comedic insight into the theme of redemption within the film.

“Here’s my perspective on second chances: nobody’s perfect,” Cena said. “So every beating heart, I believe, appreciates what a second chance is. If you show me a person who lives a perfect life, I’ll show you a liar.” 

Transitioning to standout moments of the film, some instances unequivocally highlight Cena’s ability to shapeshift and perform impersonations throughout the story. Cena elaborated on the process by reflecting on his unexpected turn as an impersonator.

“As far as the impersonations, I didn’t think I would do any of them. It was cool to get the legendary Billy Idol, the lip and the eyebrow correct.” Cena said. “I guess I just wanted to do everyone justice. Thank goodness I didn’t have to do the entire dance number one more time, but I’m glad I could rock the schoolgirl outon the broader theme of his career. In a moment of introspection, Cena delved into the profound significance of the transformation from Rod to Ricky, a process that resonated deeply with him as a wrestler.

“The story of the transformation from Rod to Ricky is very close to my heart because my life is just a serendipitous bunch of happy accidents,” Cena said. “I wasn’t supposed to be a wrestler. I’m certainly not supposed to be here. I didn’t train my whole life for these things. The opportunity has fallen into my lap, and I’ve just tried to be present and understand that it’s here.”

For aspiring comedians and actors everywhere, Cena’s message of success is simple yet powerful: passion is key. 

“The takeaway I’d love you to have is if you’re loving what you do, mix it with a lot of perseverance, and you never know what can happen,” Cena said.

For Cena, playing Ricky was more than just donning a costume and making impressions: It was tapping into those universal themes of reinvention and seizing the opportunities that come our way, even if they arrive in unexpected forms. This insight into Cena’s connection to the character adds a layer of authenticity to “Ricky Stanicky” and the film’s themes of unforeseen turns and embracing the moment.

“You talked about friendship. You talked about honesty. And you talked more importantly about accountability. Those hit right down the wheelhouse of my value system,” Cena said. “I believe we are some of the five people we spend the most time with. I finally got to a place where I’m comfortable expressing love and accepting love from others. I have been very much fulfilled since that point arrived.” The foundation of “Ricky Stanicky” lies in the intricate dynamics of friendship and loyalty.

“I think the friendship and loyalty aspect’s one of the first things that drew me to the script. These guys are telling a rather big lie. It’s hard to pull that off and still like the characters and root for them,” Efron said. “That’s what Peter Farrelly does so well in this movie. He toes the line where … they’re doing it out of loyalty and love for one another and to protect each other.”

Transitioning from Cena’s reflections on his journey, he expanded on the importance of the values of the film.

“I believe if you operate with honesty, it establishes you to communicate, and a lot of relationships that fail, and a lot of negotiations that fail are simply because of lack of communication, which could be said of lack of honesty. Accountability is huge,” Cena said. “When something goes wrong in our lives, it’s really easy to do this because we don’t have to fix anything. But if we do this, we can work on ourselves and become better. When you talk about friendship, honesty, and accountability, I’m listening to your radio station.” 

Leave a Comment
About the Contributor
Clara Faulkner
Clara Faulkner, Operations Managing Editor
Clara Faulkner wears multiple hats at the Beacon, serving as both the Business Director and the Living Arts Editor. Prior to assuming these roles, she demonstrated her expertise as an assistant editor, specializing in living arts—a domain she is deeply passionate about, fueled by her love for pop culture and entertainment. Additionally, Clara served as a writer for the Boston Globe, Boston.com, is a part of NBCUniversal Entertainment Group, and contributed to the music team at Intersect Magazine. In addition to her editorial responsibilities, Clara actively participates in various campus organizations, including SPJ, Associate Entertainment Producer at WEBN-TV, programming director at WECB. fm, and AEPHI. Outside of her writing pursuits, Clara immerses herself in culinary exploration, cinematic enjoyment, and language acquisition, consistently seeking fresh experiences and knowledge.

Comments (0)

The Berkeley Beacon intends for this area to be used to foster healthy, thought-provoking discussion. We welcome strong opinions and criticism that are respectful and constructive. Comments are only posted once approved by a moderator and you have verified your email. All users are expected to adhere to our comment section policy. READ THE FULL POLICY HERE: https://berkeleybeacon.com/comments/
All Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *