David Otunga is known almost as much for the company he keeps as he is for the character he portrays in WWE.
Otunga plays a coffee-swilling, bow tie-wearing attorney who walks a fine line between wrestling other Superstars and kissing up to WWE executives. He also is engaged to actress/singer Jennifer Hudson and lives in Chicago with her and their son.
But as Otunga tells the Chicago Tribune in a recent interview, WWE originally wanted to play up his relationship with Hudson when Otunga was trying to launch his wrestling career. According to the interview, Otunga says WWE wanted him to become “The A-List," but he resisted that move:
It's one of those things they kept bringing up no matter how many times I said, 'Please don't mention (Hudson).' They kept doing it and it irritated me to the point that I changed my character. That's why I started a new character with a bow tie and coffee mug. I want to stand alone. I'm pretty successful in my own right. (Hudson) still comes up, but what can I do?
Otunga’s current WWE character is not far from his real-life experience. He has a law degree from Harvard, and that is something that the heel Otunga character is not afraid to flaunt.
But Otunga has taken a step into the world of his fiancée. He made his film debut playing a police officer in WWE Studios’ latest film, The Call, with Halle Berry and Abigail Breslin. That film, which opened last Friday, was No. 2 in box-office revenue for the weekend.
Otunga tells the Tribune that in researching his role for the movie, he shadowed police officers to get a feel for what they encounter daily. He says on one call, his celebrity status caught up with him:
We walk up to this house and this guy is pacing in the yard, He talks to (the officer) but is staring at me. He said 'I got to ask you this question: You David Otunga?' I'm like 'Yeah.' (He said) 'I knew it. I love you. I watch you every Monday night.' He hands the phone to the cop to take a picture with me. Once I found out he was a fan, I figured he wouldn't stab me.
In the interview, Otunga says he missed his time in WWE but admits he loves acting and did not miss the constant travel. He also admits the shooting schedule allowed him to nurse some nagging injuries he has received from his WWE work and to spend more time with his family in Chicago.
Otunga re-appeared on Raw last week in a video touting The Call. As his WWE character, Otunga is seen on a phone call with co-star Halle Berry, where he tells her he might have shared her cell phone number with someone who he claims threatened him if he did not give up the number.
That “someone” turns out to be a smitten Kane, who then calls Berry and launches into a cringe-worthy tirade about her not answering his fan mail.
Otunga is the third WWE Superstar to recently appear in a theatrical film.
His former Nexus running mate, Wade Barrett, appears in Dead Man Down, another WWE Studios film now in theaters. Also, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson—current WWE champion—appeared in Snitch, which opened last month, and will be in G.I. Joe: Retaliation, due to hit theaters later this month.
Follow Bill Atkinson on Twitter at @BAtkinson1963.