Exclusive Interview: Dustin Rhodes Talks AEW Match, Upcoming Role, and More!

(Image courtesy of Dustin Rhodes)

You may know Dustin Rhodes better as his onscreen, WWE persona of Goldust, but he is also an actor, an author and much more. Dustin was kind enough to sit down with me this past weekend at Greater Austin Comic Con to chat about his latest ventures, his involvement with the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office in Texas, and his nerdy-side. He let us, and now you, get to know a little about the man behind the face paint. We hope you enjoy this interview as much as we did!

Nerds and Beyond: What was your worst wrestling injury?

Dustin: Oh man, I’ve had so many injuries. I’ve had 13 surgeries. The worst, probably the most painful, was when I broke my hand. Now I’ve had a lot of surgeries, like three shoulder surgeries, four knee surgeries, a hand surgery, back surgery, nothing on my neck yet – knock on wood. When I broke my hand, I broke all these metacarpals in half, in what’s called a corkscrew break, and it shot some pain in me like you would not believe. It hurt so bad, that was really painful. Then probably my first shoulder injury, it shot me through the roof too, so both of those are terrible. Terrible pain.

Nerds and Beyond: You recently had a big match with your brother, Cody Rhodes, and things got pretty emotional; how did you handle the emotion surrounding that match?

Dustin: Ok, so, I haven’t told this I don’t think but one time. I prepared for this match with everything that I could possibly muster up. I lost weight, and I got in shape. I’m 50, Cody’s 34, so there’s a big age difference between us, and to be prepared for this – something outside of WWE, which I had been there for so long, to go and be apart of something new and on the horizon, something that has really taken the world by storm in AEW (All Elite Wrestling) and be involved in a match which my brother and myself were told for years and years that it would not be good enough to be on the big stage of “Wrestlemania”. Well, they were wrong, and I’m gonna tell you why they were wrong, because we went out there, and to be honest with you, I had no idea how the AEW crowd would treat me because I knew they loved Cody, and some of them hated him, or whatever.

But I wasn’t sure because this was a different crowd than the WWE normal’s, and as soon as I walked through tunnel – huge reactions, it was loud, it was crazy, but when I got in the ring, we didn’t touch for the first 3 or 4 minutes, and the crowd wouldn’t stop, they started chanting our dads name. The whole building was electric with the Dusty chants, and from that point on – I don’t know if this means anything to you, you probably haven’t seen this, but The Legend of Bagger Vance is a golf movie, it’s about a guy who gets in the zone, he gets taught by his caddy how to get into the zone. This is how I can describe it, which I’ve only done one other time, so bear with me.

As soon as they started the Dusty chants, and they’re going crazy, all of the sudden, everybody in the whole arena disappeared. I could see them, but I couldn’t see them – does that make sense? I could hear them, but I couldn’t hear them. I was so focused and in the zone and knew at that point that we had these people in our hands, around the world, whatever, and we could do no wrong. We could go out there and mess up a couple things; we didn’t, but if we did, it wouldn’t have mattered. We could do no wrong, so what I’m saying is, everything disappeared – the focus was there, I was in a zone, Cody was in a zone, and we went out there and we performed to perfection. It could not have been any better, it’s like the stars aligned that night and it was very special, it was a great storied match, it was filled with such emotion and it invested everybody around us. Everyone was just in awe of us, so we’re all feeling this. That’s good for us when we’re making them feel something and they start crying; I’m crying and Cody’s crying. It was just perfect, man I cried the next day. It was the most special day in my 31 years of being in the business, that night, May 25, 2019, “Double or Nothing” for All Elite Wrestling. There has not been another time that could top that.

Dustin and Cody Rhodes exiting the arena together after their emotional match. (Image courtesy of Dustin Rhodes)

Nerds and Beyond: You love to tell stories. If you could only tell one more story, what would it be?

Dustin: If I could tell any story left in my life, I would probably want to tell the story of my life, and if it was made into a movie, of course I would want to play it because who better than me to know my own life story?

My life has been… it’s had its ups and downs. The downs were very dark times in my life, and I would love to tell the story of my alcoholism and drug abuse to 11 years clean and sober and where I’m at now and tell that story of what I went through, how I overcame it with perseverance and where I’m at today with my family and my daughter especially, as she’s getting older, and how much family truly means to me.

It’s everything, and ya know, you have your squabbles with your family sometimes, but you have one family and that’s it. Once they’re gone, they’re gone, so try to do what you can to keep your circle tight and your family strong because that’s your legacy, that’s what you want to leave and that’s what I want to leave. That’s the story I would tell.

Nerds and Beyond: What would your dream acting role be?

Dustin: My dream role in a film would be a very dramatic role. I love drama, I love serious. I mean, action stars and things like that: that’s cool, but I don’t see myself as like “The Rock” or Sylvester Stallone, or somebody like that, of that caliber. I see myself more like an Anthony Hopkins or Philip Seymour Hoffman. It’s dramatic, where you actually learn how to act, ya know, and you love to act, not just play an action star. To really relate to people and get them drawn in, to make them feel something, that’s what acting means to me. If I can make someone feel something with my storytelling and how I present a story, then I’ve done my job well. Whether they like me, or they hate me; they love me and they’re crying with me or laughing with me, whatever it is, I know I’ve done something right.

Nerds and Beyond: It was just announced that you will be playing Van “Thunderclap” Tenner in the upcoming movie “Thunderclap,” what can you tell us about that role?”

Dustin: Yes! Van Thunderclap is a semi-retired professional wrestler and he’s working side jobs. It’s the story of a kid that is getting bullied and he comes into my life and I kind of teach him the ropes. That’s all I can say about it right now.

The man behind the suit and mask. (Image courtesy of Dustin Rhodes)

Nerds and Beyond: Your motto is “Keep Steppin’.” On hard days, how do you keep steppin? How do you stay motivated?

Dustin: The “Keep Steppin’” thing came from my father. When I decided to get help for my alcoholism and drug abuse, I went to rehab, I did my time and I came out and I worked my program. Working my program meant I needed to keep stepping and that’s where I picked it up. My dad would call me every single day before he passed and that was always one of the things he would say to me; “are you steppin’ today? Keep steppin’, keep steppin’,” so it stuck with me. This is four years since he passed but I use it daily. You gotta keep moving, man, you gotta keep moving forward because the past is history, tomorrow is a mystery; we have today, so me personally, if I can get through this day clean and sober, and actually just live and know that I can have a bad day but I can do it without substance abuse then I’m gonna be fine.

Nerds and Beyond: You recently mentioned considering starting your own podcast; do you have any ideas as to what you would talk about? Any guest ideas?

Dustin: I do. I think podcasts are so over-saturated right now, and there are so many of them, but for our fanbase, for the wrestling fan base, I think it would be good to tell some old wrestling stories and I’ve got the perfect co-host.

Yeah, I’d definitely tell a lot of wrestling stories and then we’d go into maybe some political events or something like that. You’ve gotta talk about a variety of things because not everybody in the world is a wrestling fan and I wanna draw in as many people as I can; talk about my acting, talk about the things that are happening in my life, have special guests on there from all walks of life and just kind of start it up and go from there. See where it grows, see where we need to add to it, where we need to take away.

Ya know, I know nothing about podcasts, except that I’ve been on podcasts, so it’s all a learning experience for me, much like wrestling. It took me years to get it, so it might take years for me to get the podcast but I don’t know if you have that long on a podcast, you’ve gotta learn pretty quickly.

Nerds and Beyond: You’re pretty active in Williamson County with the Sheriff’s department; how’d that relationship begin?

Dustin: The gym that I’m at, Anytime Fitness, in Liberty Hill, the owner was a police officer – and I love dogs, I have three dogs at home, two of them are big English mastiffs, one of them is a yellow Lab – and his dog Axel was there and I said, “man I love dogs and I want to get involved in the community” and stuff like that and we got to talk about my dad: he used to be an honorary deputy in – he had two badges actually – one in Hillsborough County in Florida and one in Pasco County, Florida. I just love law enforcement and first responders, I respect them greatly because they put their lives on the line daily, and they take care of us ya know?

He said, “let me put you in touch with Sheriff Chody, he’s a fan, let’s get y’all to meet up and see where that goes.” We did that, and I guess he’d talked to Sheriff Chody and told him I was interested and Sheriff was very interested because I had been tweeting them all the time, a lot of social media involvement and stuff, and he made me an honorary deputy, like legally, which was really cool and I read the thing, however you get initiated in, ya know, and doing the video which became a big hit and all my wrestling buddies were like, “damn man, you get a knee injury, you’re out for a little bit and you become a cop”, and this and that. I’m like, “no man, I’m not a cop, I’m just a civilian but I’m an honorary deputy.” I got to go on a couple rides with them and that was really cool, and kinda see what they do day to day.

I’m always there, and I go hang out with the guys, and they’re like one big family just like our guys ya know, and they have their family that they good take care of but they also take good care of us. First responders are very important, from firemen to EMS, to police officers to veterans. I’m a big veterans supporter and I love those kind of people; the ones that take care of us and our community because we don’t have the balls to go do that ourselves. That’s a scary job, and I wouldn’t wanna do it and they go out there and they risk their lives for us.

Dustin and Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody. (Image courtesy of @SheriffChodyon Twitter.)

Nerds and Beyond: You put Deputy Hernandez through a table after he reached his goal for St. Baldrick’s; if you were to raise money for a charity, what charity would it be?

Dustin: Children’s cancer. Children’s cancer is pretty big with me and so is Autism. I’ve met so many kids over the years in hospitals and the Make A Wish foundation and, man, to see kids suffering is just not fair. Grown ups, okay, I get it, I mean, all cancer is bad but when it affects a child, it does something to your heart strings. It sucks; they’re innocent, and they don’t deserve what’s going on in their bodies, ya know?

St. Baldrick’s is a childhood cancer foundation, and he wanted to be put through a table so we planned on it and we had to go to different stores because nobody carries those folding tables anymore, the wood ones, like we use in WWE. You have to buy them at ‘Staples’ or ‘OfficeMax’ and they’re very expensive, so he had made one and I was like “oh boy, this is gonna be weird man”, but we went and I looked at it, and just to make sure he’d be okay, we stacked some gym pillows and stuff under the table, so that he wouldn’t bust his head and it worked smoothly because (shrugs) I’m a professional, I know how to lay him down just gently and right (laughs). So it was good, he got put through a table and we keep in touch just about everyday.

Last night (June 14) I was watching Live PD and they had a – at the very beginning of the show, it was a mess and those are my SWAT buddies man, and that guy was inebriated with something. I don’t know what he was on but it gave him some superhuman strength and it took five of those guys to hold him down and it could’ve gone awry, it could have gone much different than it did but I’m glad they’re all safe and okay.

(You can watch the Dustin put Deputy Hernandez through the table here)

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Nerds and Beyond: We are called Nerds and Beyond, so we like to ask some nerdy questions at the end of our interviews, so what’s your favorite book?

Dustin: My favorite book at the moment is, shit what is it.. I’m not done with it yet, my daughter turned me onto it. It’s about dragons.

I love the Game of Thrones books. As far as old school books, I like John Grisham stuff, I like the drama kind of lawyer type stuff, those are always fun. Those are my go to books.

Nerds and Beyond: What about your favorite movie?

Dustin: God, there’s so many good ones. I’m a big movie buff. Godfather, Apocalypse Now. Lonesome Dove is probably my favorite series. I love Peaky Blinders, it’s a TV series though. I hope they make a movie out of it. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back is my favorite, then probably A New Hope, then Return of the Jedi. The prequels, ya know, they’re okay, if you’re a Star Wars fan you like them, but everybody gives them a hard time, but I liked them all. I really liked Rogue One and I also liked Solo. I’m looking forward to this last one. So favorite movies of all time, man I just gave you a bunch, it’s hard to name just one. I don’t know.

Nerds and Beyond: Finally, we like to close out our interviews by asking a Star-Wars related question. If you could pick, what color would you want your lightsaber to be?

Dustin: Oh, yes! Red. Sith! Sith Lord: Darth Vader – he’s my favorite, and then Ray Park – Darth Maul; those are my two favorite Sith Lords. I like the Emperor too. My favorite saber would probably be Darth Sidious, I loved his saber. I actually liked Mace Windu’s too, I like the purple.

Thank you to Dustin Rhodes for taking the time to do this interview! You can find Dustin on twitter here.

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