CM Punk is always looking for “fun, quality projects” like his new horror movie. But right now, wrestling doesn’t fit the bill.
For those seeking more CM Punk in their lives, there is plenty of good news to share.
Punk, who forever left an impression on the wrestling world with his creativity, skill and heart, has a role in the new movie Jakob’s Wife. Punk is perfect in his role as Deputy Colton in the horror film, which tackles a handful of heavy issues and includes some dark humor.
Playing in select theaters and available through video on demand, the film features a talented cast that includes horror veterans Barbara Crampton and Larry Fessenden. Punk appears in the later stages of the film, adding further intensity to the end sequence.
“This is a great escape,” Punk says. “There are a lot of issues going on—women’s identity, marriage, feminism. It’s a film that really makes you think. I love this movie because of the content, the issues it tackles, the parallels it has to great vampire movies like Lost Boys, and Barbara and Larry are amazing. This movie was right up my alley, and I lucked out to be part of it.”
Out of immense respect for director Travis Stevens, Punk even accepted the part before reading the script.
“I agreed to do it just because of Travis,” Punk says. “Travis said, ‘I wrote this, I directed this and I want you to be in it.’ That was all I needed. This guy has had such a prolific career, and I’ll always jump at the chance to work with him.”
A Chicago icon, Punk is actor-wrestler-fighter Phil Brooks. Best known for compelling, captivating work in pro wrestling, particularly WWE. Since his departure from WWE in 2014 he has become more involved in acting, and he has been a natural fit in the horror genre.
“I was always a horror movie fan,” Punk says. “Some of my earliest memories are watching black-and-white Twilight Zones, Halloween, John Carpenter movies, the Universal monster stuff, Dark Shadows. Black-and-white stuff intrigued me so much. It scared me and it made me want to conquer it, which I guess is sort of a theme in my life. Horror was just always the genre that spoke to me. I’m just an unapologetic horror fan.”
Punk was part of the 2019 horror film Girl on the Third Floor, which was also directed by Stevens. Yet no matter which project he takes part in, the conversation always returns to a potential return to pro wrestling. This makes his role in the upcoming eight-episode TV drama series Heels, where he plays a pro wrestler, even more appealing for wrestling fans.
“We just wrapped on season one,” Punk says. “I’m going to wait for the producers to release the name of my character, but I play a wrestler—and they gave me the parameters, then I was able to mold the character into my own. This is a guy that I’ve shared locker rooms with. I’m sure wrestling fans will watch this show and they’ll, at various points, be able to point at me and go, ‘He’s doing this guy now.’ It’s really my love letter to one person specifically, and I don’t want to mention who it is. I want people to enjoy it as it organically happens.”
Heels also stars Stephen Amell, who dabbled in pro wrestling when he appeared in WWE for a tag match at SummerSlam in 2015, as well as a singles match at the All In pay-per-view in 2018.
“It was a real treat to be a part of that show,” Punk says. “Everybody was great. They appreciated me being there to lend an authenticity to the show. Hollywood will sometimes offend wrestling fans by taking their liberties with wrestling and not capturing the right spirit. But everybody really poured their heart into the show, in a way that they don’t want to offend wrestling fans.
“There’s good entertainment, there’s bad entertainment. I try to do the projects I think are good.”
On the subject of quality entertainment, Punk was asked whether, under the right circumstances, he would consider a return to pro wrestling.
“I don’t know,” Punk says. “I’ve said no before in interviews. I’m not fishing for a deal. I get offered to do a lot of stuff, and I say no to 90% of it just because my thing is I need to work with quality human beings. It just seems like maybe in pro wrestling there is a lack of quality human beings. I don’t know. I like doing fun, quality projects. If there is a fun, quality wrestling project that gets sent my way, I will listen to it.”
Punk would add instant intrigue to the product if he stepped back in the ring. If he were to return to WWE, he would immediately emerge as a top star. Working a match at the Tokyo Dome for New Japan Pro-Wrestling would also be appointment viewing. And with the arrival of AEW as a major promotion, there is another serious contender to bring him out of wrestling retirement. But even with those options, a return does not seem imminent.
“I don’t need the money,” Punk says. “And the way the wrestling business is now, it’s wacky. You’ve got WWE, who has multiple billion-dollar television deals, and the television’s awful. I go back there, I’m just another guy. And it’s not even that—I’d be just another guy that’s doing not-good television. I want to do stuff that’s good. I want my name attached to quality projects, where it’s fun and it makes people laugh, smile, think and people don’t hate watching it. I want to do fun stuff.”
Contributing to a fun, entertaining project is exactly what Punk did in Heels, as well as Jakob’s Wife. There is an eerie yet alluring vibe throughout the film, constantly making viewers question what they just witnessed, a forum where Punk has always thrived.
“Pro wrestling, to me, was always about a simulated violent contest, and there’s obviously violence in horror movies so I can see the correlation,” Punk says. “There’s also a union between wrestling fans and horror movie fans. Both are passionate and take it very seriously, and the rest of the world doesn’t.
“A horror movie has never won an Oscar unless you count Silence of the Lambs, but there are people that will bend over backwards and break their own necks to say that is not a horror film. The Venn diagram of wrestling fans and horror movie fans is like one big circle. It’s two mediums of art that have always been looked down upon.”
Punk’s presence will bring a lot of additional viewers to Jakob’s Wife, and he is excited to share the passion embedded in this film with wrestling fans.
“The world is scary enough, but this escape is fun,” Punk says. “Not only will this movie deliver in spades, it also makes you think. And if you love blood and fangs, this movie has it all.”
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Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.