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John Cena on how ‘Playing with Fire’ inspired him to give back: “My heroes need help”

ABC/John Cena
ABC/John Cena

(LOS ANGELES) — In the new family comedy Playing with Fire, John Cena plays a hardened smoke jumper who finds he has a soft spot for three siblings he rescues from a fire.

While the kids in the film teach his character, Fire Superintendent Jake “Supe” Carson, everything from new lingo to what emojis mean, Cena says working with the child actors gave him some lessons of his own — namely, how to be patient.

“Most times as adults, we just want to…go to work, we want to get our work done well,” Cena tells ABC Audio. “When as a four- and eight-year-old you just want to…find out about what’s going on around you and I think that’s extremely awesome quality to have a lot of us forget.”

He adds, “So that was the best takeaway, was just a reinforcement of like, hey, if these people aren’t totally focused on the task at hand, that’s because they’re really enamored with life. And that’s super special.”

Not only that, but by playing a first responder, Cena gained a new understanding of the profession. He also donated $500,000 to the first responders battling the current California wildfires.

“I’ve been like, wow, these people are my heroes. And it just so happens that due to the unfortunate set of circumstances just going on in California, my heroes need help,” he says. “So not only is this movie giving me great joy, but it’s also giving me a sense of great purpose as to who I look up to for inspiration and why and be a person of action, not just idle words.”

Playing with Fire — also starring Keegan-Michael Key, John Leguizamo and Judy Greer — hits theaters today.

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