CM Punk Shoots on Still Being a Wrestling Internet Favorite, Acting and More

Graham GSM Matthews@@WrestleRantFeatured ColumnistApril 16, 2021

CM Punk Shoots on Still Being a Wrestling Internet Favorite, Acting and More

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    Phil "CM Punk" Brooks is quickly making a name for himself in the horror movie genre.
    Phil "CM Punk" Brooks is quickly making a name for himself in the horror movie genre.Credit: "Jakob's Wife"

    Despite being out of the wrestling realm for over seven years, Phil "CM Punk" Brooks' potential return to the ring remains a hot topic among WWE fans. Meanwhile, his focus is elsewhere as he hones his skills as an actor and lands more and more movie roles, including in Jakob's Wife.

    The film, available April 16 both theatrically and digitally, combines women's empowerment with vampires and sees Punk play police officer Deputy Colton. The role came about after Punk's success in director Travis Stevens' previous project Girl on the Third Floor, which was released in 2019.

    Depending on where Punk's acting career goes from here, he'll likely always be best known for his work inside the squared circle. From 2006 to 2014, he captured several titles, competed in countless main events and became one of the biggest wrestling stars of his generation.

    Seven years removed from his last match, fans continue to hold out hope that he'll one day lace up his wrestling boots again. He tried his hand at fighting in the UFC and commentates for Cage Fury Fighting Championships, but there will never be a time where he isn't synonymous with wrestling.

    In this exclusive interview with Bleacher Report, the wrestler-turned-actor discusses Jakob's Wife, his relationship with wrestling, staying in shape, whether his wife, AJ Lee, watches his performances and more. Check out the complete audio of the interview on the next slide, and read on for the highlights.

Getting into Horror and Whether AJ Lee Watches His Movies with Him

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    Having been such a compelling character throughout his WWE career, Punk excelling as an actor should come as no surprise.

    He's always been partial to the horror movie genre dating back to his childhood. He recalled reading Fangoria magazines growing up and had plenty of praise for Jakob's Wife director Travis Stevens for securing him roles in his last few horror-based projects.

    "The first time I heard [Travis'] name in conjunction with him wanting to work with me, I was blown away," he said. "He's one of the producers on a documentary called Jodorowsky's Dune. It's one of my favorite documentaries from a couple of years ago. We hit it off, we did one film and this is our second time working together. Knock on wood, I think I'm going to be involved in a lot of Travis' stuff going forward. I just think he's brilliant and a great writer. In a lot of ways, he's an even better director and I think he's a great, creative dude to work with."

    Punk married former WWE Divas champion AJ Lee in 2014. She, too, left the wrestling business by 2015, and she's as supportive as they come when it comes to watching Punk's movies with him, despite not being enamored with the genre.

    "She's not a horror movie fan, so she'll watch it because I'm in it, but she's not a fan of blood and gore and being scared at all," he said. "She's the kind of person that will watch this film and have nightmares, so I'll probably have to make her pancakes the next day."

Why He Keeps His Projects Close to the Vest

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    Between promoting Jakob's Wife, filming for Heels, and doing commentary for CFFC, among other things, Punk has certainly kept busy throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

    His involvement in Heels, a wrestling-themed show starring Stephen Amell, wasn't revealed until Amell announced it himself. Punk has always done an excellent job of keeping things close to the vest and not letting potential projects leak out, and that's in part because his stance on social media has never wavered.

    The multi-time WWE world champion explained that he has a small circle of people who know what he's doing at all times. However, in the age of social media, he feels everybody overshares, and he makes a conscious decision to do the exact opposite.

    "Not only do I feel people overshare and that people can jinx stuff, I especially feel that in TV and movie land when stuff is finally coming out, I've already moved on to the next one, two, three, four projects," he said. "You're always working on something next and you kind of get your flowers... Jakob's Wife is coming out Friday and now I get to talk about it and do it. We filmed that a year ago, that's how these things work."

    Punk added that he's already filmed multiple other projects since doing Jakob's Wife a few years ago and that not prematurely spoiling anything could be because of his old wrestling mentality.

    "I don't want to be like, 'Hey, guys, I'm doing something cool!' and that something could be getting my car out of the impound," he joked. "I don't know, that could be a wrestling thing. I feel like a lot of wrestlers are always doing that and I just don't want to be that guy. I'd much rather hit you over the head one day with two big projects like Jakob's Wife and Heels. I feel like that's a smarter, savvy business way to handle things."

Does He Watch Wrestling?

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    During a Twitter Q&A earlier this month, Punk tweeted a screenshot of a YouTube video thumbnail that depicted him as a broke police officer, with a photo taken directly from his role as Deputy Colton in Jakob's Wife. He joked about how, despite being out of wrestling for so long, he still makes headlines because some people want to believe he hasn't done well post-WWE, which couldn't be any farther from the truth.

    "I guess I'm that one guy that wrestling websites can write about ad nauseam and it gets people interested, or something like that," he said. "Me being broke and becoming a cop are two things I look at and say I'm not sure how either of them are possible because I've been smart with money and just smart."

    After retiring from wrestling in 2014, Punk wasn't involved with the business in any way, shape or form. That changed in November 2019 when he debuted on WWE Backstage, FS1's WWE insider show of sorts that featured a behind-the-scenes look at the Superstars and analysis on the product.

    Prior to that point, Punk said he hadn't watched wrestling at all, and the sole reason he tuned into WWE programming for a time was for his role on the show.

    "I watched my wife's stuff the year after I was already gone when she was wrapping up," he said. "But I watched WWE television for the first time in six, seven years to be able to formulate an opinion for Backstage."

    WWE Backstage was canceled last summer, so other than recently filming for Starz show Heels, he hasn't been involved with anything wrestling-related since. Not only does he not watch any of the product these days, he also doesn't keep in contact with anyone from the wrestling world on the regular other than now-ex-WWE on-air personality Renee Paquette.

    "I do not [currently watch wrestling]," Punk revealed. "Whatever I know, I know strictly off of social media just because it's huge on social media. If someone does something relatively newsworthy, it's in the feed, so I'll keep up with it that way. I talk to Renee, is she in the business? I don't even know anymore."

    In other words, don't expect to see Punk back inside a wrestling ring any time soon, if ever. His comments don't completely rule out the possibility of a comeback, but it clearly isn't something he's interested in at the moment.

Cutting a Promo vs. Memorizing Lines for a Long Scene in a Movie

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    In the eight years he spent on WWE's main roster, Punk was known for being a master of the microphone. His "pipe bomb" promo from June 2011 was easily his most memorable, but really any time he picked up the stick it was must-see television.

    He was cutting excellent promos up until he departed the company in January 2014, and he's still doing that today in a way with the movies he's starring in. When asked to compare cutting a promo and memorizing lines for a long scene in a film, Punk felt the former was more difficult because of the circumstances.

    "Regardless of whether you have a soliloquy or you're just out there standing not saying anything, I think live television is always going to be harder than television and film," he said. "Even though you don't want to be that guy that needs 62 takes and you're not so dialed into that scene you're shooting on that particular day, there's always that comfort of knowing, 'OK, we can just reset and redo it.'"

    Punk looked back at his wrestling career and discussed how performing on live TV week in and week out was an arduous process. However, because he was a part of that grind for so long, it became second nature to him eventually. 

    "Live TV, you have one shot, so that's a lot more stressful. It can keep you up at night," he said. "I just did it for so long that, I don't want to say, uh, I just got good at it. I don't have the capacity now to look back at it and say, 'Oh, man, that was really, really hard.' That was just what I did, every day, almost. Live TV is definitely harder than shooting TV or film."

Staying in Shape and His Favorite Junk Food

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    Punk hasn't competed inside of a wrestling ring or an Octagon for several years, but he still stays in terrific shape for his films and other projects. The pandemic has prevented him from going to the gym as often as he'd like, but he's making the circumstances work to the best of his ability.

    "I still train tons of MMA stuff, doing jiu-jitsu when I can," he said. "COVID has put a huge damper on a lot of that. I have to stay away from my wife if I travel or do anything like that. The one steady job I've got is doing commentary for CFFC, so a lot of the times, I'm training in Philadelphia where the guys are and training with them because I have to stay away from [AJ] when I get home, anyways. I'm the kind of guy that works out. I do it at least something that works every day because if I don't get the blood moving, I get a headache, I'll feel like junk and also I work out too much to support my eating habit."

    His workout routine doesn't stop him from eating what he wants on occasion. When asked what his favorite junk foods are, he made it clear he doesn't have to go out anywhere because of his wife's incredible cooking.

    "With all the traveling I'm doing, it really depends on where I'm at. I was in Atlanta for an extended amount of time shooting Heels and a lot of time is due to COVID protocols. There's a lot of quarantine involved, you're getting a nose swab every day. When I came home, I hadn't had what I had been accustomed to and had taken for granted like Chicago pizza and Stan's doughnuts and that sort of stuff.

    "If I have a go-to, though, my wife has been absolutely murdering it in making all kinds of fun treats," he continued. "She's making pumpkin pancakes and baking cookies and she's really gotten into this lately and I'm the sole recipient of these amazing, delicious treats. I don't even have to go out, it's like a constant supply of delicious goodies and I'm here for it."

    Jakob's Wife is out now in theaters and digitally.


    Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, has specialized in sports and entertainment writing since 2010. Visit his website, WrestleRant, and subscribe to his YouTube channel for more wrestling-related content.


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