On the most recent episode of Dropkick DiSKussions, I was joined by one of the true veterans of professional wrestling, and a man who could undoubtedly be described as "legendary" in every sense of the word - Dustin Rhodes.
We sat down to chat all about the former WCW United States Heavyweight Champion's current role with AEW, why the man formerly known as Goldust decided it was time to leave WWE, and all about the 50-year-old's new venture as an actor!
You can check out the audio of the entire interview below, or read on for the complete diSKussion.
Hi, Dustin. Thanks for speaking with me. Now, you've had an extremely successful wrestling career in WWE, and you've made an immense impact in AEW in such a short space of time - but you're now carving a path into acting. I need to ask, what was the inspiration that led to you aspiring to become an actor? Is this something you've always wanted to do, or more of a recent development?
Ever since I was little, man, I've always had a camera in my hand, trying to think of movies and write small scripts from a young age. I've always wanted to be in film.
It's another passion that I have that is much like wrestling, you know, so I'm glad that I'm able to do both of those right now with the freedom of AEW and really focus on that part of it, and then whenever I need to go take some time off for a film role or auditioning, a TV series, then that's what I'm focusing on at that moment and then they bring me back in.
So it's juggling the two but it's a lot of fun and I love it, man, I've got to stay busy, I can't just sit down, I've got to keep moving. In the acting area, I want to be considered a good actor. It's great to be an action star and things like that, but I want to be known for acting because I really, really have a deep passion for it so I am giving it a shot. I've got a few under my belt. Copper Bill is the one that is in post-production right now, fixing to hit the film festivals and the live premieres and things, so I'm looking forward to that.
I have a little question about that later, so we will keep that one pinned.
NEXT: Dustin Rhodes - the actor
COMING UP: Dustin's dream opponent
It's pretty obvious to see even looking back at your lengthy and such a versatile wrestling career that you have a talent for it. You must have honed some skills that you can transfer to acting. What do you feel wrestling has given you that you can transfer to acting?
Well, the biggest advantage I think is time, and I've had a lot of time to craft the acting backstage in WWE or AEW with vignettes and promos I have a big leap and an advantage in that area because I know how stuff is shot, I know how production goes and what goes into it. The producers, directors, scripts, all the things, so it's really easy for me to just get into somebody else's character and do something.
You look at the Goldust character for years, it was one of those hard things that I had to figure out and we just ran with it. And it went in a funny direction, which was funny for a while, it was great. People like it, let's keep doing it for a while. You kind of think of different ways to keep this character relevant over the years and that is the big advantage I have as far as going and stepping into the acting world, because I already know most of this stuff and the script, the scripting and just memorizing your lines and stuff.
Back when I'm doing the Goldust character or the Dustin Rhodes character and I'm improvising stuff, some directors will allow you that freedom to improv if you're good at it and I think I'm one of those that's good at it and I've had years to really craft that.
No arguments here on that one. One of my favourite things, I watched Scare Package - which, in case anyone doesn't know, is a comedy horror movie. What was your experience like of working on that set, and being in the role of a horror villain, which isn't something we've really saw from Dustin Rhodes?
Well, this was kind of easy for me. I mean, I didn't have any lines in the movie. It was just...
As far as people watching this movie for the first time, Scare Package, they're gonna say, "Where is Dustin Rhodes?" Well, I'm not going to spoil it for you until you watch the movie but it was a character, the villain, there was a lot of blood lost in this movie and it was a comedy, and it was fun - but I was behind the mask. I was behind a mask and you just try to create this crazy character, and I look at all the past things that have happened in the wrestling world or from the Freddys, to the Jasons, to the Michael Myers, to the Hellraiser characters and I just tried to make it my own. It was a lot of fun and really easy to do.
NEXT: Why did Dustin leave WWE?
COMING UP: "I'm going to Bob Orton some fools!"
I really enjoyed it, one other thing I really enjoyed is that you're still on television in a wrestling capacity, and particularly the scene where you got attacked on AEW Dynamite by Jake Hager. What's it like juggling wrestling and acting, and what's it like being part of AEW as this new, I would say improved, Dustin Rhodes?
They're the same but they're different. One is a physical train wreck every single week. You know what I mean?
We put our bodies through an extreme amount of pain, our bodies are just whipped around like crazy. There's the physical aspect of it and then, on the acting side, you usually have a stunt double that will do that stuff for you and I'm so used to being like, "Oh, I'll do that." They're like, "No, no, Dustin, we got somebody to do that for you," and I'm like, "S**t, I know how to do that." They're like, "No, you're fine, you're fine." And they have these people do that for me and it is easy. There are a lot of similarities, but it's different at the same time too because of the physical aspect.
You recently moved from WWE to AEW. The one thing I guess might be easier if I'm looking at it from the outside, the schedule at AEW seems a lot kinder than the one you were used at the past.
Did the full-on schedule of WWE play into that decision, and does AEW give you more freedom to pursue things like acting? What was the decision behind leaving WWE after so many years and then joining AEW?
With the WWE, I'd had enough. It was time for me to go. It had been such a long, storied career with the Goldust character and, do you know, I really thought that I was going to retire - and then I got pulled in and my passion got reignited when I wrestled my brother, and we had the match of the last decade, probably, if not the last two decades.
It was such a story, a great match. The schedule is a lot different, so it takes some getting used to. We were on the road so much up there that you don't have any time at home with your family and here, with AEW, I love it, man! The scheduling is great. I leave Tuesday to go to the production meeting, Wednesday's TV, come home Thursday and whatever else I want to do, I'm free to do - which I did not have that freedom to do anything that I wanted to do outside of wrestling up there. They made it very, very difficult and that's one of the reasons why I left.
And now here in AEW, I look forward to going to work every single week because I coach the girls, me and Brandi [Rhodes], and Kia [Awesome Kong] and Kenny Omega. I hold this training session every Wednesday with the girls, I'm a backstage producer and coaching for promos, teaching these kids how to talk on camera, and to get them comfortable with a camera in their face - because some of them have never had the television experience so it's a learning experience for them and also I had to have a little patience with them because this is their first time doing it - and I love to teach so I consider AEW and these kids, they are kind of my kids, man. I love them.
And to see them shine, to see and get better, to see them progress in our company, AEW, it's great, it's a great feeling for me. I think they like me, I love being there, I love to help and I also have to still say relevant myself - with my character, Dustin Rhodes, coming back full-circle to where it used to be, just a little bit different and giving it my last full attention here for the next few years as far as Dustin Rhodes is concerned in a wrestling ring.
I'm not done. I've got a few years left and I'm looking forward to it but what I really like doing is teaching these kids, man, because they are a sponge, man, they soak it up and they love it, and they're all very passionate and hungry about this AEW venture that we are on, man.
We're knocking it out of the park every single week, we're doing some amazing, compelling compelling TV and it's fun to watch.
NEXT: The next big thing
COMING UP: "I want to walk the stage and get an Oscar before I die."
A side note, the match with you and Cody, the match of the two decades, for me, I've been watching wrestling most of my life, almost three decades, and I don't think I've seen a match with such perfect storytelling. It was amaizng.
You did mention that you're doing a lot of coaching now. I need to ask, who do you think is the next big thing in wrestling?
I like a lot of people. I like just about everybody. We have such a good group of kids, but I mean, if you're looking around in our locker room in All Elite, you've got...
Oh, man, a new up-and-comer, who not a lot of people know and they are starting to get to know now is MJF. He is really something special on the mic, and we haven't seen too much of his ring ability yet but he's good. He's really good. I like his style.
Unfortunately he stabbed my brother in the back so I take that kind of personal when you're messing with family - but as far as him being something special and big in this business, I think he's going to be.
He is a popular choice. I asked Diamond Dallas Page the same question and got the exact same answer so he's definitely doing something right. You mentioned how exciting it is to be a part of AEW. For me as a fan, it's amazing that there's more wrestling and choice. What do you think of the so-called Wednesday Night Wars?
You know, I don't look at it as, "Okay, we need to focus on NXT." I look at it as we need to put out the best weekly television series that we possibly can every single week and we've been doing that. We have been doing that, our fan base is there and they are growing.
We are an alternative to the WWE programming. We are something very, very special that the fans have commanded and wanted for a long time and we are giving it to them - so me, personally, I'm not looking at NXT saying, "Oh, my God, they done this this week, we need to do this," and go back and forth. I don't like that, I'm not focused on that, I'm focused on my kids, our kids here at AEW because they are the future right now to me and our company.
We have to grow it and built it, and make it very, very successful in the next coming years.
NEXT: Dustin's dream role?
You have two movies coming up very soon - primarily Copper Bill, but also Thunderclap. What can you tell us about your roles in those movies?
Copper Bill was a lot of fun. I think that's properly my best acting to date in my four films. I really had a lot of verbiage in the movie and a lot of script stuff - and I really got it into one specific character, which you'll see.
All I can tell you is, the scene is in the barn and, to me, I think you will really say, "Damn, Dustin has really got the acting bug and just nailed this role to a T." It's a lot of fun. We play... Basically we play thieves, and I'm a thief and I'm looking for this $80 million that is hidden on this rich man's property who has passed away - and it's been hidden because it's dirty drug money and me and Thom Hallum, we go on this property and look for the money, and we have some altercations, there's a lot of violence going on and some stuff, and s**t happens.
If you had the power to cast yourself in any movie, in any role, What would be your dream role as an actor?
Yeah, my dream role would be like a Hannibal Lecter, Silence of the Lambs-type character.
Just a real dramatic, creepy, heavy acting-actor seen. I love that movie and I look at him and just how he got into this character, and how he acted and portrayed that character in that movie was just incredible, and that's the kind of thing that I want people to notice about me.
I want them to say, "Damn, Dustin is a great actor." Not, "Dustin is a... Man, he's a pretty cool action star, I like him in action movies," which is cool but I want to be an actor.
I want to walk the stage and get an Oscar before I die. That is my number one goal in the acting world, is to be known for my acting ability.
Actually, weirdly, when you say that, I can see some kind of similarity between some of the old school Goldust nuances and Sir Anthony Hopkins, which is something I never thought I would ever say - but I can see some similarities.
On a similar scale to that one, I assume you're not done with wrestling because you told us earlier that you still have a bit left to give, so who would your dream opponent be?
I've been out, sidelined, for a few weeks. Now I'm feeling better and I'm going to go bop some people on the head with a cast, I'm going to Bob Orton some fools!
Thanks to Dustin Rhodes for taking the time to chat with me. You can follow Dustin Rhodes here.