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John Cena Wasn't Supposed To Star In The Movie That Launched His Career

The wrestler-to-actor pipeline is alive and well in Hollywood. Many famous faces who get their start in the WWE end up making their way onto the big screen. The most notable example of this is Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, who went from the ring to one of the most bankable stars in the world. However, closing in on Johnson's stranglehold on the industry is John Cena, who's made quite a name for himself in recent years, particularly when it comes to comedies.

Cena has proven his knack for comedic timing time and time again in the likes of "Sisters" and "Trainwreck" before moving into the superhero realm with the role of Peacemaker in "The Suicide Squad." He was so good in the role he eventually spun off into his own HBO Max series to play the same character. However, all of this success only came after Cena paid his dues in a number of action flicks that made good use of his muscular physique. It's possible that everything Cena has accomplished in film wouldn't have happened if it wasn't for a fortuitous happenstance that allowed him to nab his first lead role in 2006's "The Marine."

John Cena was only cast in The Marine because Steve Austin dropped out

"The Marine" is noteworthy for several reasons. It marked the first lead performance by John Cena in a film project. It also partnered Cena with Robert Patrick, and the two would reunite years later on "Peacemaker" with Patrick portraying Christopher Smith's father, Auggie. But as Cena revealed in an interview with GQ, that opportunity wouldn't have happened if Steve Austin hadn't dropped out shortly before filming was set to start. 

As Cena described, "[The Marine] was originally a role that was written for Steve Austin, and two weeks before shooting, Steve backed out for whatever reason. That's a conversation with him. But Vince [McMahon] said, 'Hey, I gotta send you to Australia.' I said, 'Okay, what am I doing?' And he said, 'Well, you're gonna be in a movie.' 'Okay, when?' 'I gotta send you in 10 days.' But I pretty much left a small meeting in his office and packed my bags and went to be in the movies, which I knew nothing about."

"The Marine" wasn't exactly a critical darling, but Cena goes on to explain how he's proud of the work he did on the film: "People talk to me about it to this day. So it's great that, you know, you do something that people remember and maybe it affects their life, which is really cool." It's safe to say working on "The Marine" was a blessing in disguise, as it showed Cena could lead a project, paving the way for works like "The Suicide Squad" and "Peacemaker," where he gets to combine his action chops with his comedic sensibilities.