Top-Down Smackdown: An Interview With KANE on See No Evil 2, Politics, Past Gimmicks
It is with great pride that Top-Down Smackdown presents our first interview with an iconic figure in the sports-entertainment business. Glenn Jacobs has been through many character changes that even Dwayne Johnson would have trouble pulling off – he once literally wrestled dressed as a human Christmas tree – but it all clicked when he landed the persona of Undertaker’s brother Kane, a mute monster who supposedly wore a mask and bodysuit to hide disfiguring burns. What could have been a one-note character has continued to develop: he learned how to talk, got a girlfriend, unmasked and revealed his burns were hallucinations only, was framed for necrophilia, set on fire repeatedly, sent to anger management and most recently donned a suit and tie to “go corporate.”
In the new WWE Studios movie See No Evil 2, he returns to a more classic horror persona as the eyeball-obsessed killer Jacob Goodnight. We took the opportunity to talk about his return to movies, his wrestling career, and those persistent rumors that he’ll retire and run for office.
Glenn Jacobs (Kane): Hey, Luke! What’s going on? What’s up?
Luke Y. Thompson: Should I call you Kane or Glenn?
GJ: It doesn’t matter – whichever you prefer is fine.
LYT: You’ve had over your career various different personas. Did you always think that it would really click if you had the horror-movie kind of character?
GJ: You know, the thing is that the original incarnation of Kane wasn’t necessarily sort of a horror movie. I remember when we were looking at the costume and the concept of the character, and it was a lot different than what I envisioned, you know. I talked to Vince McMahon about it. I was like, “Boss, this is a little bit different than what I thought we had in mind.” He was like, “The operative word here is ‘cool.’ It’s a cool character – a sort of next-generation type of deal.”
So originally Kane wasn’t – it was different once I took the mask off. Then it went from being that to even more of a sort of superhero-ish type of thing before. When I finally took the mask off, that’s when it became more of a movie monster psychopath type of thing. I don’t know – of course, my size lends itself to a horror movie, because I’m just a big guy that can overpower most people. But I think probably the best thing that happened for me was that I got to work with Undertaker, and the whole storyline was just so awesome that the WWE put together for Kane when he debuted.
LYT: When you prepare for a role in a movie like this, is the preparation in any way remotely similar to when in the wrestling business they say “This is your new persona”?
GJ: Umm – I don’t know. The deal with the Jacob Goodnight character is he’s different, and there’s really nothing to model after him. On the one hand you’ve got guys like Jason Voorhees and Michael Myers. He’s a big guy that runs around and kills people. But on the other hand, he’s got a lot more emotions than those guys do. So there wasn’t that sort of preparation where you say, “OK, do I watch interviews with Charles Manson,” or something, to see what he does, or to see what these guys do, because this is different.
So I’m not sure. And I’m not really – even with the different wrestling personas, it’s not like I go out and do research or anything like that. It’s just like, OK, you think about how you would portray the character, and that’s it. Then a lot of it is really finding the character. Like Goldust is a really good friend of mine, and it’s funny to hear him talk about when he originally came in as Goldust. It was an evolution. He would try things and see what worked and what didn’t work, and then eventually something clicked, and that became what we all know as Goldust. But it took him a few weeks or even months before he was able to accomplish that.
LYT: Which was harder to do, emotionally – was it the crying scene, or was it where you have to lie completely still while sex is being simulated all around you?
GJ: [laughs]It was trying to keep a straight face with Katie Isabelle in any scene – it’s very hard, because she’s just hilarious. Throughout the movie – there’s the other scene where she runs into everybody after Carter has been killed, and it’s one of the funniest – it’s a hilarious scene. It’s just hilarious, because you have all of this intense action going on, and there she is, and she’s playing it straight, but it’s still hilarious. She has the best line in the movie, and this is of course a line that you should hear in every movie from the slasher genre: “That’s a horrible hiding place!” [laughs]So they were different.
But the crying scene – yeah, that’s what’s really cool, that scene we were able to – Jacob is just different because he has emotions, and as weird as it sounds, he’s a psychopath going through a psychotic breakdown. His mother’s gone and his mother was the main influence on his life, and all that sort of stuff. So, yeah – it’s sort of neat being able to portray that sort of emotion in a movie of this type.
LYT: I know the Soska sisters are big wrestling fans. Did they ever cop to the mask being inspired by Cody Rhodes at all?
GJ: No. No. The mask was for two reasons. Number one, just practically – Jacob had his eye put out at the end of the first movie, so you couldn’t – unless you wanted to wear a prosthetic the whole time, which would have been time-consuming and expensive and very inconvenient to figure out a way to cover that. And then second of all, they wanted a more iconic look for Jacob – something in the vein of Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees. And Cody’s a real handsome guy. His mask is completely different from mine, in that respect.
LYT: If I can be a fanboy a little bit, you’ve done some of your absolute best character work in the last couple of years, with both the corporate angle and the Team Hell No angle in particular. Was that stuff part of what inspired the higher ups to say “Hey, we need to get Kane back into a movie, because he can really act”?
GJ: Well, I appreciate that very much. The Team Hell No stuff was, if I can be a fanboy for a second, some of the most fun times of my career. Working with Daniel Bryan and doing comedy was just amazing. If you had asked people 10 years ago – Kane’s going to be the guy that’s providing the comic portion of the show? There’s no way! And then of course now with the corporate Kane deal, I get to do something that’s, again, a complete departure from what I’ve done before.
That being said – no. That wasn’t it. I think what happened was WWE Studios is just taking a different direction. After the first movie, after a couple of years of “I guess there’s not going to be a sequel,” which surprised me because the first movie had quite a bit of commercial success. It was a good movie, so I really thought that we’d do a sequel. So after two years, it was like “I guess that’s not going to happen.”
But I think what happened was there’s a lot of stuff happening in the film division. There was a lot of turnover and all that sort of stuff. Then when Michael Luvisi , who’s a Hollywood veteran – he took WWE Films over, and has his own vision. And what it is is to make 100 movies. Put our guys – our WWE superstars – in roles that they’re going to be successful at, making the movies quickly – in some cases straight to DVD so that they’re profitable. For that reason – I think that’s why they decided to do See No Evil 2, more than anything else. It was really a business decision.
LYT: I know you’re periodically active in libertarian politics, so how long would this movie have been if every character had a concealed carry permit?
GJ: Not very long! [laughs]Not very long at all! That’s what I tell people, too. My favorite horror movie – my favorite movie – is Silence of the Lambs. Hannibal Lecter is terrifying because he probably really exists out there somewhere. There probably is some psychopath who is a genius. whereas guys like Jacob Goodnight and Michael Meyers and Jason Voorhees – you know, they’re not real, because you could take them out. But Hannibal Lecter is going to get you, because he’s smarter than you are.
LYT: Do you watch the TV show? I hear that’s pretty great.
GJ: You know, unfortunately, because of my time constraints, I have not. I met Mads, who plays Hannibal – I met him at a convention a while back. He’s a really great guy. Katherine Isabelle is in a couple of episodes of Hannibal, and I need to watch it, because I hear it is very good.
LYT: When you had the first Kane mask, along with the contacts, was it like you had to relearn a little bit to be more like a blind man, and rely on other senses? My follow-up to that would be when you took it off, was it kind of overwhelming to be in the ring, having all of your faculties?
GJ: Well, I could see in the contacts, so that wasn’t a challenge. Back in the day, remember the Kung Fu television series?
GJ: OK, they had the blind guys, the sensei – those were actually brutal, because the contact lenses that they used to use in film were – they couldn’t see out of them, and they could only keep them in for two minutes at a time, because your eyes would become deprived of oxygen, and that was really bad.
So mine – I could see through it. And the mask – the thing about it was, since I didn’t have my face, I had to portray most of my emotions through my body language. Towards the end of the run with the mask, I really felt like the mask – instead of helping the character was actually hindering the character, because his face was hidden, because he couldn’t portray emotions with his face.
But I think that wearing a mask for all that time actually made me a much better performer, because not only did I have to learn to use my body more, I didn’t take my face for granted. So once I took the mask off, I was very cognizant of using my face. Where the guys who have the luxury of using their face for their entire career to portray emotion, I think at some point start to take it for granted. Because I wore a mask for so long, I never have.
LYT: How have you enjoyed the acting thing? Is it something you plan to pursue more?
GJ: I enjoy acting, and yeah, I would like to pursue more, but not at the expense of my WWE career, because WWE is my home. That’s where I’ve been for so long, and as long as I can perform at a high level, that’s where I want to be.
But acting is a lot of fun. The most challenging part of WWE, for me, is traveling so much. That’s probably the best part about acting, is that you get to stay in one place for a month or so. So if the opportunity presents itself, I would like to do some more acting.
LYT: You’ve had such a long career, and you’ve finally become a movie star and this iconic character, but you’ve been through angles and characters that I think other performers might not have done, or might not have been able to pull off. Was there ever any doubt on your part, and what kept you going through all of it? Were you always certain you’d one of the top guys by the end?
GJ: [chuckles]Uh – I don’t know! Maybe I didn’t feel like I had a choice.You just had to keep on going because that’s the only way forward. But I appreciate that compliment very much. But yeah, I think it is just persistence. Sometimes things don’t work out quite like you want them to, but you can’t quit, because if you quit, you quit and you’ve got nothing left. So that’s probably it, is that I didn’t really feel like I had a choice. I had to keep going and trying to do what I could do to become successful.
LYT: There’s always chatter going around on the Internet that you’re looking to retire in a couple of years or something like that, and maybe even enter politics. I think there were rumors that you were going to challenge Lamar Alexander at one point. How accurate is any of that, if at all? Do you plan on wrestling for a lot more years, or do you see an end in sight?
GJ: I don’t necessarily see an end in sight, no. Again, as long as I can keep performing at a high level, and as long as I’m having fun, that’s what I’m going to do. The thing about politics is – I’m interested in politics because I don’t particularly like politics, you know? I would really like politics to leave me alone. But as far as becoming one of them, that sort of causes my stomach to churn somewhat. [laughs]So I don’t think that’s something that I want to pursue, necessarily.
LYT: What was your reaction the first time you were pitched the idea of the inferno match? The idea that you would forever be attached to a match where you would get up and be set on fire every single time?
GJ: Yeah, right. The thing about it is that it was really cool. The match is visual, and it’s definitely an attraction. But yeah, it’s also pretty difficult, because it really is hot in there. It was funny – I’ll share a story with you quickly. In one of the inferno matches, we were talking about doing something in the match not related to the fire itself. Someone asked if I was comfortable with that. I was like, I’m standing in the middle of a barbecue pit. I’m not really comfortable with any of this! [laughs]
But again, the thing about the inferno match is it’s definitely something completely different, and something that people have never seen before. When we pull it out nowadays, I still think people are very interested in it, and that’s what we try to do. It’s all cool.
LYT: Well, Kane, thank you so much for everything – the movie, your great entertainment career – you’re the only guy I’ve ever interviewed that I dressed as for Halloween.
GJ: That’s pretty sick! [laughing]I appreciate that, man! Thanks so much. Have a good one.
See No Evil 2 comes out on Blu-ray and DVD tomorrow.