The premiere of the earthquake disaster flick – which details the destruction of San Francisco – comes just a month after the real-life devastation stemming from the 7.8-magnitude quake that rocked Nepal on April 25.
During a press conference for the film in Los Angeles on Saturday, Johnson spoke of the impact the Nepalese disaster had on the cast and crew of San Andreas.
“I think that we made the movie knowing and understanding the content of it and what we were making,” Johnson acknowledged. “The world we live in and the life we have today, these things happen. It s so unfortunate, incredibly unfortunate. Prayers and thoughts continue to go out to everybody in Nepal and everybody who was affected by that.”
He added, “The truth is, you go into a project like this with everything you’ve got, your heart and your soul, and you just want to make a good movie.”
If there’s a silver lining to be found in disaster, Johnson says it would be “the ideology of family and strength coming together through a tragedy,” which he asserts is a strong theme throughout the movie.
San Andreas Shakes Up Box Office
The Furious 7 star also says he has some very personal experience enduring the violence of Mother Nature.
“I ve been through natural disasters,” Johnson says, explaining that he was living in Miami when the category-five Hurricane Andrew hit in 1992.
“There were members of my family who thought they were going to die,” he says. “Everybody was in the bathtub. It was a tough, tough thing. So I think the idea of coming together, like we’re showcasing in our story, resonates with people.”
Johnson spent time training with first responders in L.A. and Australia to prepare for the role, an experience he tells PEOPLE allowed him to fully appreciate “just how special and unique they are, and it’s why so few are able to do it.”
The time he spent with the real-life heroes was a “life-changing experience.”