Long before Mel Gibson made kilts hip, tartan-clad wrestler ”Rowdy” Roddy Piper (real name: Roderick George Toombs) was showing off his legs, usually wrapped around some opponent’s neck. Over his 25-year career, the Scots-bred athlete won more than 20 titles. But since starring in 1988’s sci-fi satire They Live, Piper, 41, has given up grappling. With his eighth and ninth movies — the urban action flick Jungleground and the Die Hard-at-a-beauty-pageant thriller No Contest, costarring Andrew ”Don’t Call Me Dice” Clay — hitting stores soon, what better time for a no-holds-barred spar?
1. So, are you no longer ”Rowdy”?
I got the name ”Rowdy” before my first pro fight, when I was a pimply 15-year-old. I had a dark side and I’d get into fights. But I’m not so rowdy anymore…. I guess you could call me ”Sensitive” Roddy Piper.
2. Wrestling’s real, right?
The only time it’s fake is when I lose. When they started the WWF [World Wrestling Federation], it was a bunch of rebels. Now it’s turned into Barnum & Bailey.
3. Who’d win a contest of verbal fisticuffs, you or the Diceman?
He’s really talented. But I’ll be honest, I don’t think he’d stand a chance. It’s one thing dealing with a heckler in Vegas. It’s another to walk into a stadium in Buffalo and deal with tough guys trying to take [verbal] shots at you.
4. Were you upset that you were passed over for Braveheart and Rob Roy?
I haven’t seen Rob Roy, but I saw Braveheart twice. Mel Gibson did a great job, but I’ve been cool in a kilt since I was 5. I’m probably one of the most famous kilted people in the world. But Mel looked pretty good in it — he could use a few squats, though.
5. What do you think of Hulk Hogan the actor?
He did that Mr. Nanny movie dressed in a tutu, but he’s not trying to act. He’s trying to get over as Hulk Hogan in the acting world.
6. If you could play any Shakespeare character, who would it be?
Macbeth, because of all his different shades of tragedy. Tragedy I know. I had a really tough childhood; I was scared all the time and I wasn’t a kid who was wanted around.
7. Is there a TV show you just can’t miss?
Back when I was wrestling, my wife and I would unplug the phone and watch The Beverly Hillbillies. Granny could make me cry. I just loved her so much.
8. Do your six kids play with the ”Rowdy” Roddy Piper action figure?
No. Once I was on the news fighting and the guy was bleeding. One of my kids saw it, started crying, and said, ”If we do something wrong, is that what you’re gonna do to us?” It broke my heart, so they’ve never seen me fight since.
9. Clinton or Dole?
Well, I’m not an American citizen [he’s Canadian-born], but I think I’d have to go with Mr. Dole. He’s 72, and he’s been there, done that, won that, you name it.
10. If you were reincarnated, what would you come back as in the next life?
A large, white timber wolf. They’re loners and they avoid trouble, but when they find something, they go in and make their kill. Nobody messes with them.