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

"I can't tell you how down to earth he is, honestly," Cena says of Efron

<p>Gilbert Flores/Variety via Getty </p> Zac Efron and John Cena on Dec. 11, 2023.

Gilbert Flores/Variety via Getty

Zac Efron and John Cena on Dec. 11, 2023.

Wrestling brought John Cena and costar Zac Efron together when it came time to make their new comedy, Ricky Stanicky.

Cena, of course, made a splash 20 years ago when he debuted in the WWE before transitioning to Hollywood, and Efron transformed into a pro wrestler in the recent film The Iron Claw.

When they began work on Ricky Stanicky, "He just came off of filming Iron Claw," Cena, 46, tells PEOPLE, adding, "This is stuff I know about and an avenue where I feel comfortable in. I got my 10,000 hours. So he got to set and that's kind of how I broke the ice with him."

"We immediately had a lot of bonding through his experience, and I was super psyched that he did the movie," he adds. "Man, he was excellent in the movie, and I'm so glad that it's so well received."

Cena raves that Efron, 36, is "an unbelievable human being" and a "great guy."

Related: John Cena on Being Dua Lipa’s ‘Emotional Support’ on Argylle: ‘She Was Vulnerable Enough to Admit She Was Nervous’ (Exclusive)

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

Ben King/Amazon Studios

John Cena in "Ricky Stanicky" (2024)

"I can't tell you how down to earth he is, honestly," says Cena. "And I don't know life through his lens. I got a little taste of it in Australia [while filming], where 25 long-lens photographers would show up every day he was on set."

"So I don't know what life is like with that, and I don't know the strength that you need to leave the house every day like that," says Cena of the High School Musical alum's level of fame.

<p>Amazon Studios</p>

Amazon Studios

Still, "I can tell you, when you get to the core of who he is, he's an excellent human being," says Cena of Efron: "Not only is he a gifted professional and easy on the eyes, but, man, what a great guy, and a great way to make a friend out of this experience."

In Ricky Stanicky, which is directed by Dumb and Dumber's Peter Farrelly, Efron's character and his pals (played by Andrew Santino and Jermaine Fowler) get caught in a lie about a fake friend named "Ricky Stanicky" they use as an excuse to get out of things.

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Desperate to prove Ricky is real, they hire a struggling actor, celebrity impersonator "Rock Hard" Rod (Cena), to stand in as their pal. The role requires Cena to "take some bold chances" to make audiences laugh.

"Pete is really good about getting your best out of you and forcing you into uncomfortable situations, and getting you to go all in, getting you to commit," says Cena of the writer-director.

He adds, "Sometimes confidence and foolish courage is all you need."

Ricky Stanicky is on Prime Video Thursday.

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

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