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WWE star Paige says that Dwayne Johnson changed her life in five minutes

“I’m 26 and I have a biopic! What the hell is life right now, it’s crazy!” says WWE star Paige, still not quite sure what has happened.

Fighting with My Family is the upcoming movie about her life, and Paige is more than happy about it. Born as Saraya-Jade Bevis in a wrestling family from Norfolk, England, she has been wrestling for half her life now, starting when she was 13. It is hard to believe that her career almost never happened, as she was afraid to enter the ring at one time.

“I loved wrestling so much, I was such a huge fan of it, but I was scared to get into the ring. It was terrifying to me, I was 12 years old. But when I turned 13, I got in the ring and then I was like, ‘Oh, now I’m hooked! Can’t get away from it now’. I just loved it so much,” she explains.

Her brother Zak shared her passion and two of them attended the audition for WWE training program. Paige made it, while Zack didn’t make the cut. The story picked up interest from a local documentary maker, who made a short film about the family. As luck would have it, Dwayne Johnson was in London, filming Fast and The Furious and saw the documentary. Immediately, he knew he can turn it into a movie. He found Paige and asked her permission to do it, a conversation that left her in tears. She later said that it was a “life-changing” experience for her:

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“He texted me first ’cause we were in the same building for WrestleMania in 2014… and he was like, ‘Hey, it’s DJ. I would love to talk to you at some point,’ and I didn’t know he had a nickname, right — I didn’t realize DJ was short for Dwayne Johnson. So I’m like, ‘Who the hell is DJ? And why the hell is he texting my phone? Whose number is this? They want to see me, what the hell,’ and Dean Malenko, who was my mentor, was like, ‘That’s Dwayne Johnson, you idiot!”

“He said he’d watched the documentary and how he loved it and it just reminded him of his family and he just loved our story and wanted to do a movie on it. So, just within like two minutes of talking to me it was like, ‘You just changed my life,’ and then he was like, ‘Oh and tomorrow you’re going to be debuting in the Diva’s Championship,’ and I just remember crying my eyes out,” Paige remembers her promotion to WWE main event. “I was like, ‘Oh my god — five minutes of sitting down with you and talking to you and you’ve told me two things that are going to change my life forever’.”

Johnson hired Stephen Merchant to write and direct the movie, to add some comic relief to a family drama and action of the story. Paige was happy to leave everything to them: “When it came down to it, I literally left everything in Stephen and Dwayne’s hands — I trust them. They’re wonderful people, they’re geniuses and I’m like ‘they’ve got it covered’. So I was never worried about it.”

The buzz about the first ever WWE biopic was soon eclipsed by an even bigger WWE story, that Netflix is making a movie about the life of superstar Hulk Hogan, one of the people who helped establish the sport’s popularity in the 1980s. The role of the Hulkster will be played by another superstar, Australian Chris Hemsworth, much to Paige’s delight.

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“I saw that and I was like, ‘Damn Hulk Hogan, stealing my thunder’,” she laughs before adding: “Hulk Hogan is a good friend of mine and I think he’s an incredible human too, and he’s very lucky to have Chris Hemsworth playing him! That guy is not an ugly guy! He’s OK to look at. So, I’m happy for him and I think it’s gonna be huge.”

She did have some advice for Thor, though, based on her experience as the two-time champion: “I would just say [to Chris], just tuck your chin when you’re wrestling, learn from me — it hurts.”

Paige is now retired from pro wrestling, due to a serious neck injury she suffered in the ring. She is already planning her next chapter, which reveals that behind that tough exterior there is a gentle heart: “[If I wasn’t a wrestler] I would have been a vet or a zoologist — I love animals so much. That was my dream later on in life, when I was supposed to retire, not at 26 but a little later — I wanted to have a lot of lands so I can have an animal reserve or a humane society of my own, so I can just rescue animals.”