John Cena Talks 'Embarrassing' Himself for Laughs Onscreen: 'You've Got to Wholeheartedly Commit' (Exclusive)

"Sometimes confidence and foolish courage is all you need," says the actor

<p>Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images</p> John Cena

Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images

John Cena

John Cena will do whatever it takes to get the laughs.

The wrestler-turned-actor, 46, stars in the raunchy new comedy Ricky Stanicky alongside Zac Efron, Jermaine Fowler, Andrew Santino and William H. Macy.

Cena tells PEOPLE in this week's issue that his character, a struggling celebrity impersonator who goes by "Rock Hard" Rod, required him to take "some bold chances."

Luckily, director Peter Farrelly, known for comedies like Dumb and Dumber, There's Something About Mary and more, is "really good about getting your best out of you, forcing you into uncomfortable situations and getting you to go all in."

"Sometimes," adds Cena, "confidence and foolish courage is all you need, you know?"

Related: John Cena Calls Ricky Stanicky Costar Zac Efron an 'Excellent Human Being' and 'Easy on the Eyes' (Exclusive)

<p>Ben King/Amazon Studios</p> "Ricky Stanicky" (2024)

Ben King/Amazon Studios

"Ricky Stanicky" (2024)

The star has been entertaining the masses for two decades: He made his debut in the WWE back in 2002, quickly becoming a fan favorite in the ring.

"I come from a world where guys go out in their underwear, throw oil all over themselves and talk trash to each other. That in itself is ridiculous," he says. "But because we commit and we are authentically representing the characters we try to build, it brings you to the edge of your seat."

Cena, who has shown his funny side in films like Trainwreck, Blockers, Vacation Friends and beyond, learned quickly that "your heart has to be in it."

<p>Moses Robinson/Getty</p> John Cena on Oct. 31, 2011

Moses Robinson/Getty

John Cena on Oct. 31, 2011

"You have to do those embarrassing moments on screen where you're asked to give of yourself and be vulnerable — whether it's dressed as a merman, whether it's in your tighty whities or in a Britney Spears outfit — you've got to wholeheartedly commit," he says.

Adds Cena, "I genuinely love it, and I try to be better than I was yesterday. That's how I approached wrestling, and that yield really showed."

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Cena, who married wife Shay Shariatzadeh in 2020, says he prefers to surround himself with people "I love and the people who I trust ... I like to be around people who will push me."

<p>Todd Owyoung/NBC via Getty Images</p> John Cena

Todd Owyoung/NBC via Getty Images

John Cena

The actor, raised with four brothers in Massachusetts, says "as a kid growing up in West Newbury" he "couldn't expect" to be in the spotlight like he is today. "None of this stuff is supposed to happen, so all of it's a blessing. I don't look at any of it as a burden."

Ricky Stanicky is on Prime Video now.

For more on John Cena, pick up this week's issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.

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