Q&A with Kane
I conducted a phone interview earlier this week with WWE world heavyweight champion Kane, who will be appearing at the Smackdown taping at 1st Mariner Arena in Baltimore Tuesday.
To read my story on Kane in Friday's Live! section of The Baltimore Sun, click here.
It’s been about six years since your last program with The Undertaker. What are your thoughts on working with him again?
Both of us have evolved quite a bit from where we were six or seven years ago character-wise, so I think it’s going to be different. It’s new and it’s fresh, and of course it’s always awesome for me to be able to compete against him because I think he’s one of the all-time greats. So it’s special, and as a professional it should be very fun to do.
You played a couple other characters in WWE prior to becoming Kane that didn’t really catch on. When you were first presented with the opportunity to be Kane, did you know right away that it was going to be a career-maker?
Well, I certainly hoped so. Again, Kane has evolved through the years – tremendously I’d say at this point. Getting to work with The Undertaker right off the bat was a tremendous opportunity. It was an opportunity to be a career-maker, and fortunately I was able to take advantage of that.
I’m guessing you probably weren’t thinking Dr. Isaac Yankem was going to be a big hit.
[Laughs] Not, really. I try to forget about those days.
You mentioned how the character has evolved. For years you wore the mask and didn’t speak, and then you spoke a little here and there, but now you’re cutting these long promos. It seems like a lot of lines to memorize, but you’ve been doing a great job. Have you had any formal acting training?
No, I never have other than taking the prerequisite drama classes in college and high school.
You’re presented these scripts on the day of the show, correct?
Yeah, and sometimes we’re presented the script a half an hour before we go out there [laughs]. Honestly, I think we in the WWE are very underrated as performers. What we do would be very difficult for even an experienced actor. To go out and sometimes have 15 minutes of verbiage, sometimes have to ad-lib and then, of course, have other variables such as the interaction with the audience, it can be challenging.
Were you worried at all when the time came to take off the mask that the character would not be as well-received?
Well on the one hand, yeah, because it had been very successful and you have the philosophy of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But on the other hand, I felt – and Vince [McMahon] felt as well – that the character had progressed as far as it was going to be able to. Interestingly, probably the only people who were really 100 percent behind that decision were myself and the guy that really counts, which is Vince. There were some trepidations, of course, but again, it was a great opportunity and what it did was that it almost became separate characters. I think the opportunities that it presented as far as breathing an entirely new life and direction into Kane mitigated whatever fears that we had – and, of course, we could always put the mask back on.
Were you able to enjoy some degree of anonymity outside the arena during the years when Kane wore a mask?
[Laughs] Not really. I was a really big guy with really long hair, so it’s not like I probably worked at Charles Schwab or something like that. People never accused me of being a nuclear physicist. People may not have known exactly who I was but I would draw stares anyway, and then a lot of times people would put two and two together.
A lot of wrestlers that I’ve talked to over the years say that the best characters are the ones in which it’s their real personalities with the volume turned up. Are there any similarities between Glenn Jacobs and Kane?
If there were, I’d probably be in jail [laughs]. In fact, that’s why I think I’m so successful as Kane, because I can be something completely different. It's like Anthony Hopkins and Hannibal Lecter. It's just so far removed, and you're able to do things that you would never ever dream of doing.
How many more years do you see yourself wrestling? Some people have speculated that this could be a final run for you.
Yeah, that’s sort of a constant at this point [laughs]. I’m still having fun. I’m really at the height of my career, and I don't have any plans of packing it in, at least not in the near future.
Have you thought at all about what life after wrestling will be like and what you want to do?
Yeah, you have to. I am at an age where I’m beginning to realize the way my body feels sometimes that I can’t do this forever. Also, as far as my home life and my family, certainly I’d like to spend more time at home. People are like, “What do you do for a vacation?” I go home [laughs]. And I enjoy being there. That’s actually the most challenging thing of what we do – the travel and being away from home all the time. Luckily, my people at home are very supportive, but by the same token, I do what I do now so that at some point I can spend that time with them.
I know you’re an active member of the Libertarian party and you author a political blog, The Adventures of Citizen X. Have you ever thought about one day following in the footsteps of Jesse Ventura and running for public office?
Oh yeah, sure. But I think maybe with me it might be more educational stuff — talking with young people and that sort of thing as opposed to pursuing political office.
Do you think there will ever be a Libertarian or independent president or will it always be someone from one of the two major parties?
[Pauses] I don’t know. Certainly I think the way things are going with the economy, and this is not a rip on any particular party because they’re both at fault, but with the centralization of the economy, central planning, that doesn’t work. We saw that everywhere it’s been tried. As things unfold I think people will be looking for answers, and I think the Libertarians, certainly the people that understand real economics – Austrian economics – they have those answers. So we’ll see what happens. I think we do live in very interesting times.
Photo courtesy of World Wrestling Entertainment