By Mitchell Parrish
John Cena is an iconic figure inside and outside the wrestling ring. From his humble beginnings in Massachusetts, Cena’s charisma, work ethic, and determination have propelled him to become the best-known star in the history of WWE.

The 46-year-old’s presence in the ring, characterized by his famous catchphrase “You can’t see me,” won him 16 world championships. But the star’s talents are not restricted to the squared circle. As he conquered the wrestling world, Cena seamlessly transitioned into Hollywood, proving his mettle as an actor with noteworthy acting roles.

Some of his most prominent ones include The Marine, 12 Rounds, and a comedic appearance in Trainwreck. Cena also showcased his versatility by joining the ensemble cast of the Fast & Furious franchise.

Outside of his professional life, Cena currently resides in Tampa, Florida. He is happily married to Shay Shariatzadeh. Though often in the limelight, Cena values privacy when it comes to personal matters, not least the decision not to have children, although he hasn’t ruled out having them in the future.

An icon of modern entertainment across a range of different destinations, Cena continues to evolve in his career, proving that concept beyond doubt with the release of Matthew Vaughn’s spy vehicle, Argylle, and Peter Farrelly’s legacy with his latest return to comedy in “Ricky Stanicky.” Three childhood friends invent a friend that they use to get out of familial obligations time after time to party. When their family finally gets suspicious and demands to meet this made-up friend, the guilty trio hires an out-of-work actor to bring him to life. The actor takes it a little too far, and they wish they’d never invented Ricky in the first place.
STRIPLV: What made you want to get involved with Matthew Vaughn’s spy film Argylle?
CENA: I think that when you observe Matthew approach to projects and his unique way of setting the stage, it’s evident that he has a distinctive storytelling style. I greatly admire the depth and emotion he brings to his characters, even while pushing boundaries. Understanding that Apple recently acquired this, coupled with Matthew’s overarching vision, gives me confidence in the project’s direction. I believe this is just the beginning for the Argylle series. I was genuinely excited to collaborate with Matthew. Given what’s written, I saw nothing but immense potential. It’s going to be a great journey.
STRIPLV: What of his work has impressed you up until this point?
CENA: Well the Kingsman series is obviously the recent standout material, but I remember watching Layer Cake back in the day. It’s funny how so much of the fallout from that film now comes down on Daniel Craig as the movie that really won him the Bond place; yet at the same time, it was the start of the story for Matthew – his first film as director, writer, and producer. What I like about him is his careful selection of projects since – he hasn’t gone crazy or overboard.
STRIPLV: Some would say you have shaped yourself in the same way.
CENA: It’s easy to do too much, and when you do that people can get bored of you pretty quickly. That’s my experience anyway, certainly in the days of WWE when you can be present all of the time, too much of the time. What’s that phrase? Absence makes the heart grow fonder. That’s never been truer than in the entertainment world. Think about it!
STRIPLV: Even so, something like Argylle must feel like a brave diversion from what you have known.
CENA: Yes and no. In the last few years, I’ve really stepped up the diversity of roles, and I’m pleased people haven’t laughed me out of the building for some of them.
STRIPLV: How do you choose your roles? Do you have scripts sent to you all of the time?
CENA: I’m consistently immersed in reading, aiming to collaborate with talented individuals on projects that align with my abilities yet that still offer a sense of challenge. Until I come across a script, I’m never sure what that challenge might be. What draws me to a role isn’t necessarily its magnitude or franchise potential but rather the intrigue of the story itself. My passion lies in entertaining and immersing myself in captivating material. I strive to ensure that my work, even if it involves ‘playing dress up,’ remains a source of joy rather than a chore. My primary criterion? Being genuinely moved by the material I read. This might explain the diverse range of my work, from major action-packed sequences to the uniquely creative world of James Gunn to the distinctive cinematic style of Matthew Vaughn. At the heart of it all, I’m driven by compelling narratives. It’s truly the essence of stories that captivates me.
STRIPLV: Considering that you are still a big part of the WWE franchise, has there been any talk about when you might look to retire from its physical demands?
CENA: I’m aware that it’s approaching. Every opportunity I have to step out there grows increasingly precious. I can’t ignore that I’m 46, nearing 47, and have been a part of the WWE family for more than 20 years. The inevitable is on the horizon. To be honest, when you’re deeply immersed in it on a daily basis, your focus often shifts to what lies ahead, but I’ve not got any concrete news for anyone just yet. Rest assured, I’m not going to fade away, and when the time is right to make that decision, I will let everyone know.
STRIPLV: Although everyone sees you as the world-renowned huge superstar you are now, it didn’t happen overnight, as people assume.
CENA: When I first signed with the WWE in June 2002, my contract was a mere $12,000 annually. I quit my previous job the very day I got the offer. Informing my father, it was perhaps the only career move that truly amazed him. He exclaimed: “I’m beyond proud!” Even now, his pride in that decision remains evident. For the longest time, my motivation was seeking approval, especially from my father. His recognition served as my primary driving force, but eventually, I realised it was a double-edged sword. No matter how much acknowledgment he gave, it never seemed to fulfill the void I felt. It’s similar to the relentless pursuit of wealth. In our profession, it’s crucial to seize opportunities because injury can lead to a loss of income. Yes, my time in WWE has granted me abundant knowledge and financial stability due to my investments. However, there were significant deficits in areas like love, self-worth, and personal well-being. Despite my physical prowess being on display for the world, I wasn’t genuinely nurturing my own health. I reached a crucial juncture where I had to reassess and reallocate my energies. It made me ponder: Where was I exerting too much? Was I overly focused on financial gain? It might seem contrary to popular belief, but it made me question: What’s the real pursuit?
STRIPLV: Although you say that, it’s been done through sheer effort. You’ve gained millions of loyal fans and also earned a lot of money for WWE, not to mention elevating your status to become one of the most positive people on social media.
CENA: Certainly, I view myself as diligent. I’ve not long passed my 20th anniversary at WWE, and so terms like ‘dedicated’ and ‘faithful’ seem fitting. While you mention my social media persona as upbeat, it’s worth noting that I often discuss challenges like setbacks, disappointments, and grief. I’m human, just like anybody else is, and we can’t all be positive all of the time. Perhaps I’m just more inclined to avoid confrontations than many. I believe integrity encapsulates both my real-life demeanour and the character that carries my name. If you were to break down my essence into three words, they might very well define who I am at my core.
STRIPLV: Now that you’ve gotten to experience the perceived madness that is Hollywood, what can you say about it from a truthful point of view?
CENA: The allure and charm of Hollywood is undeniable, that’s for sure. Transitioning from one area of expertise to another can seem superficially similar, yet the nuances make it an entirely new endeavour. To stand a chance at succeeding, exhaustive preparation is indispensable. If you believe you’re at a disadvantage, you need to double down and push yourself relentlessly. Currently, I’m venturing into the realm of screen entertainment, stepping away from live events – although, as I said earlier, that’s going to take some time to happen fully. I recognise the challenges ahead and am committed to putting in the effort to level the playing field with my peers.
STRIPLV: How much will you miss those live events when you entirely leave them?
CENA: I already long for it daily now, without fail. Yet, I count my blessings for having had a prolonged career with only a handful of minor injuries. Thankfully, none have impacted my long-term well-being. Physically, I’m robust, agile, and in excellent health, both inside and out. But after considering a full-time touring role at this juncture, I felt that it might lead to more loss than gain, and I needed to confront that reality honestly.
STRIPLV: Is being a WWE star for so long a perfect preparation when you’re in superhero movies, and do people sometimes forget that there’s a human being, like you said earlier, behind the mask?
CENA: I couldn’t concur more. These characters we portray, they’re larger than life. Take The Undertaker, for instance, who was honoured in the Hall of Fame last year. Only now is he beginning to show his true self, and it’s unsettling for many. When I decided to let my hair grow, I was unsure about its styling or length. Yet, just seeing me with a fuller mane led to a flood of comments on social media. People exclaimed, “You’ve destroyed my memories” or “How could you?” All I was doing was changing my hairstyle, embracing what’s left of it! But any deviation from the familiar seems to unsettle fans. Also, just because some people physically wear masks, it doesn’t mean that those who don’t aren’t also putting on an act or a persona, and this is what we should all be careful about – there are real people underneath the surface. Always be kind.
STRIPLV: Well, again, there’s that positive and caring attitude that we’re so used to seeing, but as you say there, are you susceptible to criticism and not too big or tough to ignore it or let it affect you, or have you ever wanted more people to understand who is behind John Cena the persona?
CENA: I had a period, around 2010 to 2012, where I thought: “I’m more than just this character; I deserve recognition as an individual.” But those days are behind me now. I genuinely hope the ‘invisible’ joke lasts another century. The number of times I’ve waved my hand in front of my face doesn’t bother me. It’s been a golden ticket to an incredible life, letting me pursue my passion and connect with amazing people globally. This identity has shaped my worldview, and I’ll never grow weary of it. If I aim to shift perceptions, the onus is on me. I must show dedication akin to what brought me here, restarting from the ground up.

Dr Doolittle

Although Dolittle may have its fair share of criticisms from reviewers, one particular stroke of genius stands out. Cena’s casting as the voice of a mellow polar bear. Amidst the film’s shortcomings, his performance has the greatest potential to leave you with a smile, defying the film’s overall reception and making Cena’s contribution a standout.

The Reunion

While the 2011 limited-release action comedy may appear reminiscent of a lacklustre TV pilot, it struggles to break free from its modest budget and clichéd plot elements. However, when the movie fully embraces its brand of absurdity, it offers moments of enjoyment if you’re willing to suspend your critical thinking.
This is primarily thanks to the inspired casting skillfully drawing out Cena’s charismatic side.


A modern adaptation of Disney’s 1938 animated short, The Story of Ferdinand, this computer-animated comedy features Cena as the voice of a peace-loving bull. His convictions are tested when he’s pitted against the world’s top bullfighter. While the film follows a familiar animated family formula, it’s a commendable family comedy, and Cena infuses the character with vitality and tenderness, elevating the movie’s appeal.


In a striking transformation, Cena sported a vivid blue mermaid tail paired with a seashell necklace featuring a turquoise clam pendant. His iconic buzzcut gave way to stunning, flowing blonde locks cascading down his shoulders, and, in interviews, he has expressed his amazement at the imaginative concept.

Daddy’s Home/Daddy’s Home 2

While Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell battle to determine the superior father and seem to have settled their differences, Cena appears as Roger, causing more trouble for Wahlberg. In the sequel, Roger epitomises the overbearing dad eager to undermine his ex’s new partner. Given Cena’s well-known amiable nature, seeing him portray a villainous role is a notable departure.