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WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley tests acting chops in 'Chokeslam'

Eddie Chau, POSTMEDIA NETWORK

Mick Foley stars as Patrick in Chokeslam (Shawn Fulton Photo)

Mick Foley stars as Patrick in Chokeslam (Shawn Fulton Photo)

Mick Foley is no stranger to a chokeslam.

The three-time WWE champion is probably most well-known for being the recipient of said move, while being thrown off the top of a 20-foot tall steel cage by The Undertaker.

While Foley's in-ring days as a professional wrestler are long behind him, the Long Island, N.Y., native still thrives as a performer. In the new film, the aptly named Chokeslam, Foley plays Patrick, a veteran regional wrestling promoter who helped launch the career of Sheena DeWilde (played by Silicon Valley's Amanda Crew).

Postmedia Network caught up with the WWE Hall of Famer to chat about Chokeslam.

Chokeslam is a romantic comedy centred around the world of professional wrestling. How did you get involved in this film?

Nattie Neidhart (WWE Superstar Natalya) reached out to me. She said she was familiar with the production. So you can thank Nattie for my involvement.

There are a lot of different roles on your professional resume: wrestler, New York Times best-selling author. Is acting a new to add to the list?

Acting isn't new. I've been doing it since 1998. I've just been waiting for fun projects to come up. I did get tired going to casting calls to basically play the redneck bouncer or the redneck bodyguard. I just got to wait for something to come along where the production actively wants me to be part of what they're doing.

You're used to performing on a stage in front of a large crowd. Does acting come natural to you, coming from a pro wrestling background?

It's not that much different. You have to learn to corral in your expressions. I have very expressive eyebrows that works well in wrestling. Not as well on a big screen. So, you have to rein things in. That's a lesson that (WWE Hall of Famer and Haven star) Edge taught me.  All of us are used to projecting to the upper rows (of an arena). We have to rein it in for motion pictures.

The cameras are there in your face, so you don't have to play up facial expressions as much.

It's a study in minutiae. I did a role with Willem Dafoe. It didn't look like he was doing anything. Then you'd watch it back and he had all these amazing, intricate expressions. I contrast that with Vince McMahon who displays fear with a huge gulp. Both styles work, they just work well in their own worlds.

Amanda Crew mentioned in an interview recently that you were involved in training some of the actors. Besides portraying Patrick, how actively involved were you with the film?

I was only on set for a few days. I wouldn't have been actively involved in Amanda's training. Each day I was there, she gave up her lunch hour to work in the ring and really absorbed everything she could. I can't tell you how much I respect that. She wanted to know as much as she possibly could. I spent every lunch hour talking to Amanda and giving her pointers in the ring.

The character of Patrick has a lot of similarities to Mick Foley. How much of that character is similar to you, aside from physical characteristics (such as wearing red flannel and having a missing ear)?

Patrick is a shady (wrestling) promoter with a heart. I was very happy that the Chokeslam team was open to improvisation. I would just say, "Hey, would you mind taking this in a different direction?" They were always open to ideas. I think that makes for a great atmosphere. I was impressed with the depth of the cast. There were some really talented people there. Every scene I did, I was working with people that were much better at what they did than I was. (laughs).

There was one scene when Patrick is sitting around the table and telling a story about how he was in the main event of a sold-out show with the strap (championship belt). Was that an example of improv?

That's a long-standing joke. If I get together with Steve Austin and a few guys from my era (of wrestling), we'd almost immediately talk about the time we worked on top (of the card) and we sold out (the show) and we had the strap. No one ever says, "Yeah, I remember working in front of a small crowd on the bottom of the card." I think stories are always best when they're slightly, if not greatly, exaggerated. Tip of the cap to the guys that paved the road in wrestling. I'll go on record as saying the very first thing (wrestler) Kevin Hash will say to me when he sees me at Wrestlemania this weekend is: "Yeah, I was working on top. I had the strap. We sold it out."

Chokeslam is currently playing in Ottawa, Kelowna, Whitby and Winnipeg. It will be released in Toronto, Regina, Calgary and Vancouver on April 7.