WWE's The Miz on leading role in 'Marine 3'

The Miz has been body slammed and hit by chairs, but his worst injury came in "Marine 3: Homefront." Courtesy of WWE

When I sit down to rank the all-time best movies starring professional wrestlers (yes, I really do things like this), “They Live” and “Predator” top the list.

But to Mike “The Miz” Mizanin, there’s a new wrestler movie topping the charts: “The Marine 3: Homefront,” starring “The Miz.”

“No. 1 is ‘Marine 3: Homefront’ in my mind,” says Mizanin, the former Real World star turned WWE superstar turned Hollywood leading man. “I’m so proud of this film. It’s my first big film and I get to play an action hero where I shoot guns, and there are explosions and cool fight scenes. I’m like a kid in a candy store.”

Here’s what else The Miz has to say about doing his own stunts as well as his hopes for Wrestlemania.

ESPN Playbook: What’s the craziest stunt you performed in the movie?

The Miz: I had this huge fight scene that took six hours to film and it was nonstop. But the funny part is, it was the second day of shooting, and it was the longest fight scene. I’m getting ready for it, I’m pumping myself up, I’m amping up, and the first scene the guy kicks the door, and the door is supposed to hit my toe, but it’s supposed to look like it hits my head, so I go to open the door, the guy kicks it, and when it hits my toe, I swear, I’ve never felt pain like this before in all my life. I stubbed my toe, more or less, and I still finished the fight scene, but when I took my shoe off and I took my sock off, no toenail. So my toenail was a casualty of “The Marine 3: Homefront.” Listen, I’ve been hit with kendo sticks and chairs, I’ve been thrown through tables, broke my ankle, broke my nose, and have had concussions in WWE, but nothing has hurt me more than when I stubbed my toe in “The Marine 3: Homefront.”

Did you enjoy the ability to have multiple takes? In WWE, you do it right the first time or you’re on YouTube botch videos for life.

That is the luxury of doing a movie. When you’re in WWE and you’re in front of 16,000 screaming fans booing you or cheering you, you only have one take. But in “The Marine 3: Homefront,” I only needed one take, to be honest with you, but we did take many, just to be sure.

Was there a stunt you wanted to do in the movie but they wouldn’t let you?

There were a lot of things that they tried to not let me do, but I was basically like, “I’m doing it. I don’t care what you say, I’m still doing it.”

Do you hope to do more acting in the future?

Absolutely. The experience of being in “The Marine 3: Homefront” and working with the director, Scott Wiper, who worked hand-in-hand with me, was just so great. And then being with talent like Neal McDonough of “Justified” fame, as well as “Minority Report” and “Captain America.” I also worked with Ashley Bell, who was on “The Last Exorcism” and “The Last Exorcism II” … I got to be surrounded with so much talent and had so much fun, of course I want to do more movies, but I still want to balance WWE in there as well. WWE is my first love.

Did you get any advice from The Rock about how to balance wrestling and movie life?

I did, actually. I texted The Rock, because let’s face it, The Rock is the biggest action hero right now in movies, so I was like, listen, Rock, what’s your best advice, and he told me to just be natural. He said that too many times guys try and be this big guy, but it ends up looking robotic. He told me to act natural, have fun, and enjoy the scenes, enjoy yourself. It sounds so simple, but when you get in there and there are all these cameras and you have different takes and different feelings, being natural is great advice, and it actually helped out a lot.

Speaking of The Rock, do you think the criticism he receives for being the WWE champ while only working part time is fair or unfair?

Listen, anytime The Rock wants to come back to WWE, I welcome him back with open arms. The Rock is the reason I wanted to become a WWE superstar, and not only that, but he brings his movie crowd to the WWE, and if the ratings are going up and you’re watching Raw, guess what, people are seeing The Miz, and more people are going to stay and watch The Miz. So if The Rock wants to come back, I open my arms to it because he always brings a whole new set of WWE fans.

You’ve been locked in a great feud with Antonio Cesaro of late. What was it like getting swung into the outside rail like that, over and over and over?

Really, that’s what you want to talk about? Not me making him tap out with the figure-four leglock, you want to talk about how he swung me from banister to banister and hurt my shoulder? Thank you very much for reminding me of that, by the way. I don’t think people realize how hard that barrier is. I really did hurt my shoulder, and I couldn’t lift it for like two weeks. I’ve finally had some rest and it’s starting to feel OK, but we do have Wrestlemania 29 coming up at MetLife Stadium on April 7, so I’m really excited about that, because you’ll have The Rock versus John Cena for the WWE Championship, but I plan on stealing the entire show. What you’ll remember on Monday Night Raw the night after will be what The Miz did, hopefully to Antonio Cesaro.

So is that match officially on the card?

That’s what I’m hoping for, but with WWE, you never know what’s going to happen. It’s live, it’s in your face. You never know what is going to happen. We love shock value.

As an old-school wrestling fan like yourself, what was it like to have the figure-four passed down to you by the one and only Ric Flair?

One of the greatest moments of my life. Growing up watching Ric Flair, wooing to all my friends, and trying to put on the figure-four leglock on my buddies, and then having him come out on Miz TV and not only having a woo-off with him, not only strutting with him, but having him kind of say, hey, go ahead and put on my move that I’ve made famous through the years and won many world titles with. It’s just incredible. I hope to pay tribute to Ric Flair and his greatness every time I put it on.

You seem to attract more haters than just about anybody on the WWE roster. Why is that?

Haters love me. [laughs] That’s why I’ve got the T-shirt. It’s a little bit of everything. I think when you come from a reality show, nobody really respects you from the movie industry or from the WWE industry. Our WWE fans are very critical. It’s like a fraternity, and if you’re not a part of that fraternity, guess what, you’re hated. And for a very, very long time, I had to earn the respect of all the WWE Universe, and I’m glad I’ve had the opportunity to do that. I think, finally, after seven years of working hard and dedicating myself, I’ve finally turned the fans, and you’ll actually hear them cheering nowadays. That’s what I hope to do with the movie industry. I hope the movie industry looks at “The Marine 3: Homefront” and goes, wow, not only has this guy been on a reality show and in WWE, but this guy can really act and did an incredible job.

You talked earlier about trying to steal the show at Wrestlemania this year. I know when you wrestled John Cena in the main event of Wrestlemania 27, you hit your head so bad that you can’t even remember the match. Do you ever watch the DVD of the match? Has your memory of the event started to come back?

No, I watch it back and I don’t remember a thing. There are bits and pieces that come back, but most of it is just one big blur. It’s funny, because when we went backstage, my parents got to go backstage to see if I was OK, and the next day, my dad comes up to me and starts showing me all these pictures he took backstage. He was like, “Oh my God, I got The Rock, I got John Cena, I got Rock’s mom, this is incredible.” So I was like, “Wait a minute, Dad, when did you get these?” And he said, “You were concussed and you kept asking the same questions and it got annoying so I just went out and started taking pictures with everybody.” I was like, “Thanks, Dad, I appreciate that!”

So what was worse, your concussion, or your stubbed toe from the movie set?

My stubbed toe, because I’ll tell you what, I had to do six hours on that toe with no toenail and it was brutal, but it’s what you do. It’s that sacrifice that makes it so much better.