\o7 Fooling around with a well-known brand-name product is always risky business--but Hulk Hogan isn't worried.
Five-time world heavyweight champion of the World Wrestling Federation, the 40-year-old Hogan (real name: Terry Bollea) awaits Friday's opening of his third feature film--New Line Cinema's "Mr. Nanny," about a down-on-his-luck wrestler charged with taking care of a pair of motherless youngsters. For the first time, Hogan bills himself as "Terry 'Hulk' Hogan."
The same Terry "Hulk" Hogan goes into production in January on 20 hours of a syndicated series, "Thunder in Paradise," playing an ex-Navy SEAL named Hurricane Spencer\f7 .\o7 If the show's a hit, he's considering changing his billing to "Terry 'Hulk Hurricane' Hogan."
That was one of the topics Hogan, 6-foot-6 and 285 pounds, discussed this week during an interview at a New York hotel.\f7
Question: There are pictures of you in a tutu on "Mr. Nanny" posters plastered on buses all over New York. How does that make you feel?
Answer: I wasn't sure at first that that was the right marketing strategy, but I'm glad they went for it. The only downside is with the hard-core wrestling fans. I read all those wrestling magazines, because I'm still a big fan. And I think it insulted the heck out of those hard-core fans. Their reaction is "How could you do this?" Like: "You gave up wrestling for this?" They don't want to understand what I'm trying to do.
Q: What's the difference between wearing a tutu and wearing wrestling tights?
A: A tutu crosses the line. You drop the last straw of your masculinity that you've been hanging on to. But I knew it would work. You've got the big, stereotypical guy with the tan body, the yellow tights--this sweaty bald-headed maniac--in a tutu. People's reactions were off the Richter scale.
Q: Hulk Hogan is an established brand name. Why change your billing to Terry "Hulk" Hogan?
A: After the last 15 years of yelling and screaming as Hulk Hogan, I was getting stereotyped as a wrestler. People hear "Hulk Hogan" and think of wrestling. I figured changing it would throw people off track a little. It might make them think this isn't a wrestling movie. Which it isn't.
Q: How did you choose this script?
A: Actually, I came up with the story. I was on the set for "Suburban Commando" and they came to me with all of these treatments. I had just seen "Home Alone" and I thought about reversing the scenario: You've got Hulk Hogan, ex-athlete, now supposedly the greatest bodyguard ever--and he's turned into a baby-sitter for these two mean kids.
Q: What kinds of films do you want to make after this?
A: I'd like to be the John Wayne of the '90s. Not in terms of being the macho guy, but as a solid male leading character. Making an action-adventure comedy that kids can see with their families is a natural extension of what I did in wrestling.
Q: Who's your competition for roles?
A: If "Mr. Nanny" does what I think it will, then maybe the big studios will take a chance on me. Then I don't know if my competition would be Arnold, or Bruce Willis, or whoever. But I'm ready to compete. I've been like a little dog sitting on the porch. Now I'd like a chance to run with the big dogs.
Q: What's your best feature?
A: It would have to be something that comes out once you get to know me, a genuine quality I have when you get to know who Terry is.
Q: No, I mean, when you look in the mirror and you're stripped down to your trunks, what do you see as your best feature?
A: You mean in terms of ego and physical prowess? My arms are my best feature.
Q: What will it be like for the first young man who comes to your door to date your daughter? (Hogan and his wife, who live in Clearwater, Fla., have a daughter, 5, and a son, 3.)
A: I've thought about that. I think a good wrestling lesson in the front yard. Perhaps a body-slam to the concrete. No, really, all you can do is give your kids all the guidance you can and hope they'll make the right decision.
Q: You've got a while before you need to worry.
A: I don't know. She's only 5 and she already has her ears pierced and likes to wear makeup. It drives me crazy.
Q: Who's the wrestler with the weirdest gimmick you ever saw?
A: A guy who called himself the Missing Link. His head was shaved, except for this little squirrel tail on the back, which he'd grab like a handle when he'd head-butt you. And his head was painted green.
Q: You were the center of allegations a couple of years back regarding drugs and steroid use. How did that affect you?