Stu Bennett is back with a vengeance.
Bennett recently spoke with WrestleZone Managing Editor Bill Pritchard about his new film, I Am Vengeance: Retaliation, which is available on VOD services today. Bennett has entertained professional wrestling fans for more than a decade, including his notable run as Nexus leader Wade Barrett in WWE. Now transitioning to an on-air personality and actor, Bennett says he’s enjoyed making the switch to the silver screen because it’s still action-heavy like similar films of the 1980s and there’s a lot of emphasis on story.
“I think the obvious transition for any professional wrestler who wants to move to the acting world in any capacity is action by virtue of the fact that we are very action-packed people and we come from an action-packed discipline. There’s definitely the appeal in that world,” Bennett said. “I love doing it and being physical even though people aren’t watching me wrestle at this point in time. I love the fact that I get to work with directors and actors that are very much about storylines and narratives but also very much about the physicality and the stunts and all of that stuff.
“I grew up in the ’80s, I was born in 1980 so I’m a fan of this genre. Growing up, the stars were Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren,” Bennett said, “so to be able to create a movie that’s like an ode to those ’80s action classics from that era is pretty cool for me. I’ve really enjoyed doing it.”
Vinnie Jones co-stars in the film with Bennett, who says there are a lot of similarities in their career paths. Jones was a former soccer star in Europe before breaking into acting, and Bennett says it’s great working with him because he’s a great actor and brings an incredible amount of knowledge.
“I loved working with Vinnie, and my ‘fandom’ of Vinnie Jones goes all the way back to the ’80s when he was a soccer player in the UK. He was notorious for being the bad guy, fouling people and being the hard man of soccer, but I’m also a huge fan of his acting career too. I think there are certain parallels when I look at his transition from leaving soccer and moving into film,” Bennett said, “it echoes my own attempt to move from pro wrestling to a little bit of acting too. It’s great to work with him, he’s a great performer and he’s a big name.
“This was his 100th film shot, so he brought a level of knowledge to the film set that really helped us all. It helped me with my acting, it helped Ross Boyask, our director with some of the shots, our camera guys—to get that level of knowledge for free,” Bennett said, “in addition to getting an appearance from Vinnie Jones in the film is fantastic. I was constantly grilling him about ‘what was it like working with this person’ or ‘what was it like playing soccer in this stadium’. I got to be a complete fanboy with him too when we were off the set. I got a lot out of it.”
Bennett has always been known for his “gift of gab” no matter where he’s been—WWE, World Of Sport and now NWA—a skill he says helped him achieve his highest level of success. Pointing to his WWE tenure as the Nexus leader and Bad News Barrett, he says those periods of time saw him getting the most mic time and that in turn led to more success than any other period. He added that he’s always thought of himself as a capable talker and believes his biggest strength will serve him well in film now too.
“I always knew that I was a capable talker. I always felt that as a fan growing up, the storylines and the personas, the promo work more than anything else, that’s what drew me in and in a lot of cases I think that’s what’s missing in the world of professional wrestling today, the lack of emphasis on those areas.
“I think somebody like myself, and I do consider talking as my biggest strength in wrestling, I think that transitioning to acting in quite natural. I don’t think it’s too big of a jump for me to tweak the performances for film versus pro wrestling when you’re a confident talker. You can also see the way I’ve moved into commentating, working with NWA and doing commentary there. It’s something I enjoy and something I feel that I excel at and it’s something that I hope to get to do a lot more of going forward.”