Interview: Triple H Goes Big In ‘Surf’s Up 2: WaveMania’
He has been referred to as “The King of Kings,” “The Game,” and WWE’s Executive Vice President. But now, Triple H will also be known as Hunter, the big wave riding penguin in the new animated film Surf’s Up 2: WaveMania.
The 14-time world champion teamed up with Vince McMahon, John Cena, the Undertaker and Paige in the sequel to the 2007 hit Surf’s Up. In the film, the WWE Superstars are known as “The Hang 5,” a group of pro surfers that are idolized by the likes of Cody Maverick and Chicken Joe, the two lovable characters from the original.
Triple H has shown yet again that he’s a man who wears many hats. Whether it’s taking care of business in WWE, overseeing NXT, mixing it up in the squared circle or being in multiple animated films, he has shown there is nothing he can’t do.
With the epic surf comedy now released and WWE’s Royal Rumble approaching later this month, Triple H took a moment to reflect on being a father, having Vince McMahon as an over the top grandfather, his own surfing adventures and his WWE career.
Working on the film
CraveOnline: In Surf’s Up 2: WaveMania, you play Hunter, an elite surfing penguin. What was it like working on this project and what can we expect from the film?
Triple H: First of all, it’s a lot of fun. I have three girls and they loved Surf’s Up and they’re really excited about this one. When you approach it from that side, it’s just fun doing these animated family movies. It’s out now but I haven’t brought it home yet but they can’t wait to see it. For me, that’s the excitement of doing these things. Being able to go in there and do something that’s kind of fun for the whole family and you can be a little bit crazier and over the top with your performance.
“Surf’s Up 2 is very modern to today’s kids”
CraveOnline: You have been in other animated films before so what’s it like for your kids to see you in a movie? What’s their reaction?
Triple H: It’s funny to see their reactions. In the past, when we have this or got Scooby-Doo!, not only do they know us in the show but they know John Cena, they know Kane, they know Undertaker and The Miz and obviously their grandfather is Mr. [Vince] McMahon who they know as ‘Pop.’ It’s cool for them to see it in a different light and to see the characters come alive.
When we did Scooby-Doo! , to be able to go to the premier and see Scooby and the Mystery Machine and they love that show anyways, it’s exciting for us to be a part of that.
A movie like Surf’s Up 2 is very modern to today’s kids. I think they resonate with that very well and it’s just one of those things, when they see it, it makes them look at you differently. My youngest one will say all the time ‘Let’s watch the movie with you in it.’
The real Mr. McMahon
CraveOnline: You mentioned Vince earlier. In the movie, he plays Mr. McMahon, an otter and leader of The Hang 5 and there’s no shortage of hilarious dialogue from him. Does Vince sound as over the top in real life?
Triple H: It’s funny, when they see him on Raw or SmackDown, he’s a different character. He’s the evil maniacal boss. When he does these things, he has crazy dialogue and he’s the owner but it’s a different light. He’s the ‘legendary Mr. McMahon’ and he kind of is how they see him in a way.
Their pop is this larger than life guy that they see as part grandpa and part James Bond or something. He’s got his own airplane and he always has a souped-up car. I have to tell him all the time, if the girls say ‘I’d really like to have an elephant,’ I tell him ‘Do not buy them an elephant.’ That’s how he is with them. Their vision of their pop is a little bit more like what you see in the cartoons.
CraveOnline: Now you play a fantastic surfer in the film but have you learned to surf in real life and if so, how was that experience?
Triple H: We have a lot of guys in WWE that do surf. Shane [McMahon], my brother in-law is an avid surfer and his boys are really big into surfing. They go all the time and a lot of our talent does as well. Shinsuke Nakamura is a huge surfer. If I want to make him happy all I have to do is let him go surf for a day.
I tried it once in my life and it’s extremely difficult. My wife and I were in Mexico and got up at the crack of dawn to try and go surfing and we had an instructor. It takes a lot of work so I have respect for anyone who does it. I stayed with it all day until I could get up on the board and take one wave before I ate it, just enough to say I did it.
Royal Rumble and life as an Executive and WWE Champion
CraveOnline: We’re a little over a week away until WWE’s Royal Rumble, which you won last year and won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in the process. What did it mean to you to win the title at that stage of your career and did you feel a responsibility to carry the load leading into WrestleMania?
Triple H: It was a completely different experience. Last year was kind of out of the blue and given the circumstances of where we were talent wise, we had a lot of injuries and a lot of people moved positions, which changed a lot of things about the show.
Any time you’re put in that position, you put a lot of pressure on yourself. The pressure is less for me from a physical standpoint because I’m still in decent shape and I’m in this business every day so my mind is still fresh.
The pressure for me was trying to do my job and that job at the same time. With the things I operate on like live events, talent and creative, there’s so much to do on a day-to-day basis that it’s hard to get it done regularly.
In addition to that, it’s one thing to look decent, it’s another thing to be able to get in the ring and physically perform especially with an athlete like Roman Reigns. So you have to get back into the gym and train twice a day.
CraveOnline: How difficult was it to work as an executive and then be a performer during that title run last year?
Triple H: The common belief is that for myself and other guys are that we can’t step away from it or can’t let it go but I’d love to [laughs]. As much as I enjoyed last year, when the company asks if you want to go out and compete in front of 100,000 people, it’s hard to say no because it’s a piece of who you are. But at the same time, the workload it creates for you is so massive that it’s hard for you to enjoy it.
Even the WrestleMania experience, I spent my time going from a business partner to trying to produce NXT Takeover to trying to oversee the television and if talent have an issue, my match is up in two or three matches and there’s a talent issue I have to deal with, I’m not out of the pocket. It becomes an intense workplace.
Joshua Caudill is a writer for CraveOnline, a hockey fanatic, a pro wrestling connoisseur and an expert on all things Patrick Swayze. You can follow him on Twitter @JoshuaCaudill85 or “like” CraveOnline Sports on Facebook.
Photos by Sony and WWE
WWE Superstars John Cena®, Undertaker®, Triple H®, Paige™
and Mr. McMahon® Are “The Hang 5” in the Totally Tubular
SURF’S UP 2: WAVEMANIA
Debuting on DVD & Digital January 17
Bonus Materials Include Bloopers, Behind the Mic: Hanging with the Dream Team, Chicken Joe’s Extreme Slaughter Island Tour,
How to Draw Your Favorite Characters with Director Henry Yu and Inside the Music with Composer Toby Chu