James Gunn’s Direction for John Cena as Peacemaker Started With ‘Throw Away Your Plans’

John Cena is known for his work ethic as an actor, which was evident when Polygon met him in London for a brief interview for Matthew Vaughn’s new film. Argylle. Cena, his wrestler’s physique filling out a handsome three-piece suit, sat upright, made locked eye contact, turned on his considerable charisma and gave full, thoughtful answers – straining to promote a film in which he plays only a small role.

Part of that work ethic is the humility to put aside his preconceptions about a role and let his director take the lead. Cena plays Wyatt, a sidekick to Henry Cavill’s superspy Aubrey Argylle; they are both fiction-within-fiction characters who only appear in certain “fantasy” sequences in the film. Cena said he took a similar approach when working with Vaughn on the film as he recorded with DC Studios head James Gunn The suicide squad And Peacemakerafter Gunn effectively scrapped all his careful prep work for the Peacemaker character with a little bit of direction: “Throw all that away and just be a dork Captain America.”

Asked which cool action heroes from the film canon inspire him when he starts a project like ArgylleCena said: “I could give you a list, but I don’t think it applies Argylle. Argylle is a strange and interesting world. And again, I did the same thing as I approached the DC universe. I don’t want to fill my head with prejudice because I trust the mind of James Gunn, and in this case the mind of Matthew Vaughn. And when I come in saying, ‘These are the badasses I want to emulate, this is what I want to do,’ and he’s like, ‘Uhhhh…’

“This happened to me with James,” Cena said. “OK, no problem. I got it! Learning from that experience, I let Matthew decide what he wanted. I was open to listening to his opinion and then playing within his goalposts.”

Cena with Henry Cavill and Dua Lipa Argylle.
Photo: Peter Mountain/Universal Pictures/Apple Original Movies

Cena commented on the magnitude of his role Argylle was unimportant to him. He really wanted to work with Vaughn, and he felt it would be unfair to place ego-based limits on what that work could be.

“(It was) an opportunity to be on the court, as I like to say. Just get me on the track,” he said. “It doesn’t matter that it’s a huge portion. This is just my perspective, but I hate people’s perception of, “That’s beneath me.” Who the hell am I to say I’m above anything or anyone?

“I just love the opportunity to tell stories. If I really love it, I don’t want to tell a story on my terms; I just want to get on the track. So this was an opportunity to work with someone that I said I wanted to work with. And I’d be a hypocrite as hell if I thought, “I’d love to work with you, but only on my terms.” You know, the opportunity presents itself? Take this.”

Cena may be hoping for a bigger role in the future Argylle turns into a franchise, for which Vaughn has confusing plans. Yet his ego-free approach to his work stands out as his acting star rises.

Argylle is in theaters now.