Wade Barrett: WWE Star On Dead Man Down Role

Wade Barrett
(Image credit: WWE)

How did your experience of WWE help you get into your role for crime thriller Dead Man Down?

WWE Studios were looking to cast one of their wrestlers in the role of a bodyguard for the main bad guy, played by Terrance Howard. At the time I was out of the ring with an injury and given my size I fit the bill perfectly. It’s also quite an active role, and the athleticism I need for WWE meant this wasn’t a problem. But in terms of acting I had to tone it down. In WWE we do things a little overblown – our reactions are a lot bigger and that doesn’t always work so well on film. You have to be a lot more subtle.

What did you learn from working with the likes of Colin Farrell and Dominic Cooper on set?

I noticed how they got into character. In one scene we’re chasing after someone who’s been shooting at us. I was getting ready to start the take when I looked over at Dominic Cooper and Colin Farrell and they were having this whole panicked argument off-camera. But then I realised they were getting themselves in character by raising the panic level and getting the adrenaline flowing so they were in the zone. I thought that was pretty cool – it’s something I never thought of doing as an actor. We do a lot of stuff like that to fire ourselves up before stepping in the ring too.

Still from Dead Man Down

(Image credit: Entertainment One)

Have you always been built like a WWE wrestler?

I started wrestling in 2004 in the UK but before that I was very skinny. I was 6ft 6in [1.98m] and weighed 160lb [72.5kg]. That’s skin and bone – I was like a young Peter Crouch. I knew if I wanted to be a wrestler I had to put some serious size on but when you’re fighting those ectomorph genetics it’s not easy to do.

You now fight at 112kg. How did you manage to bulk up so effectively?

I read a lot of advice telling you to eat clean, lots of salads and keep your protein intake high but when you’re a skinny, 6ft 6in guy that information was useless. I just needed calories. I was eating Mars Bars and tubs of peanut butter and just getting bigger and bigger and I looked a lot better like that. I didn’t put that much fat on. I kept my abs at the time. My body was just crying out for calories. I kept my protein high but for me the key thing was getting those calories down my neck.

What did your training involve?

Initially I was just doing pure bodybuilding but after I put on some size and started wrestling I realised your body needs different routines to develop. I needed to do stuff with more athleticism, such as CrossFit training. I started doing a lot more clean and jerks, snatches, and a lot more cardio and burpees.

Does needing to look the part for WWE mean that your training doesn’t make you very functionally fit?

If you look at the UFC those guys train purely for function. Although some of them look like incredible physical specimens and are super-fit and strong they don’t necessarily look as good as some of the wrestlers in WWE. The thing with WWE is we need to have that athleticism, explosiveness, stamina – just like the UFC guys – but on top of that we need the aesthetic side. So we have to do a lot of bodybuilding that they may see as wasteful training.

Wade Barrett

(Image credit: WWE)

Before WWE, you has experience of fighting as a bare-knuckle boxer. Could you have become a pro boxer?

I did some bare-knuckle boxing when I was younger. There was a point in my early 20s when I had to decide if I wanted to go into boxing or pro wrestling. Ultimately I decided to go with wrestling because I’d always had more passion for watching that than boxing. As for UFC, when I was younger it wasn’t that popular. I did a little bit of MMA when I was first training to be a pro wrestler to get used to some techniques and holds but the UFC was never something I seriously looked at getting into.

What can we look forward to when WWE comes to the UK in November?

WWE is such a unique show. It blends athleticism, entertainment, comedy, crowd interaction. There’s nothing on the planet that compares with it. A lot of people like to compare us with UFC but to me it’s completely different. UFC is purely about two guys competing. When you come to WWE it’s a unique experience. You might have seen it on TV but to be there live, experiencing that adrenaline is very different. I’d always advise someone if they haven’t been along to come check it out and I’m sure they’ll go home very happy.

Do you get a good reception in the UK?

Usually when I wrestle anywhere in the world people usually boo me. They see me as the bad guy, which I’m fine with. I quite enjoy that. But when I come back to the UK it flips. Everyone likes to cheer for the English guy. The weird thing is I also get a cheer in France too, which doesn’t make any sense.

Dead Man Down is available on Blu-ray and DVD on 23rd September from Entertainment One.

Sam Rider

Sam Rider is an experienced freelance journalist, specialising in health, fitness and wellness. For over a decade he's reported on Olympic Games, CrossFit Games and World Cups, and quizzed luminaries of elite sport, nutrition and strength and conditioning. Sam is also a REPS level 3 qualified personal trainer, online coach and founder of Your Daily Fix. Sam is also Coach’s designated reviewer of massage guns and fitness mirrors.