Chicago played big role both in John Cena’s personal and work lives

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John Cena in front on the title character he voices in “Ferdinand.” | Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images.

LOS ANGELES — Pro wrestler-turned-actor John Cena’s face lit up when asked for his thoughts about Chicago, during a recent interview for the animated film “Ferdinand,” in which he voices the title character: that sweet, non-aggressive bull.

“Chicago is such a special city for me. I had my very first WWE match there — so essentially, this long journey of my career started in Chicago. More importantly, the lady I’m about to marry [Nikki Bella] — we had our first date at Gibsons. So, as you can see, both my career and my personal life are closely connected to Chicago. Nikki and I love the city so much. We try to come back and enjoy it, as much as we can — at least a couple of times a year.

Though he plays a gentle bull who avoids facing off against matadors in the ring, Cena says he’s never attended a real bullfight in Mexico or Spain. “Ironically, though, I once did have a WWE event IN a bullfighting arena. Kind of weird, but it was quite the interesting venue.”

Another voice talent in “Ferdinand” (opening Friday) is Chicago native and “Jane the Virgin” star Gina Rodriguez. Like Cena, she hasn’t been to a bullfight, “and I don’t plan on going to one anytime soon. I am too much of an animal lover.”

Rodriguez, who voices Una, one of a trio of hedgehogs that include Dos (Daveed Diggs) and Cuatro (Gabriel Iglesias). “As we say in the movie, ‘Don’t even ask about what happened to Tres,’ ” quipped the actress — hinting at the demise of a fourth hedgehog.

As for bullfights, Rodriguez explained, “I think I just couldn’t watch the bull getting killed,” she added. “The closest thing I’ve come to anything involving a bull was going to one Bulls game, when I was 13 years old — luckily back when Michael Jordan was playing. It’s crazy, but I haven’t been to another game since then!”


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