John Cena Admits 'F9' Cast Was 'Apprehensive' About Him Joining Franchise: 'Who Is the New Kid?'

The Suicide Squad and F9 actor talks about starring in two summer blockbusters and teases future of those characters

john cena
Photo: Universal Studios

Although John Cena loved his experience making F9 and bonding with the close-knit cast, the actor and WWE star admits that he had to earn his place in star Vin Diesel's "family."

"They were kind of apprehensive to me being there, just like we are in WWE like, 'Who is the new kid?'" Cena recalls to PEOPLE. "But then when the new kid does something good or like when you have good open conversations, it's like, 'Yeah, you're alright.'"

Cena, 44, who plays Diesel's brother Jakob in the ninth film in the franchise, says joining and being accepted among the ensemble felt like "being welcomed into the locker room."

"Or as Vin calls it, 'the family.' That's super rare in film," he says in this week's issue of PEOPLE. "Because usually you do the project, you move on. It's like a wonderful summer camp. You make great friends and some you stay in touch with them, and some you don't, but you do the thing and then you move on. This family gets together like every two years to do Fast [films]. They're celebrating its 20th anniversary. This is a global franchise that has entertained fans for two decades. I've been at WWE performer for, next year will be my 20th anniversary. So to see Vin and Jordana [Brewster], Michelle [Rodriguez] and the crew, Tyrese [Gibson], and Luda [Ludacris], they've been in these characters for 20 years. It felt as homey as a WWE locker room. I've never felt that anywhere."

RELATED: Vin Diesel Says He Had a 'Strange Feeling' Paul Walker 'Sent' John Cena to Play His Brother in F9

suicide squad
John Cena and Idris Elba in The Suicide Squad. Courtesy of Warner Bros. Enterta

Cena adds that he'd be happy to do another Fast film.

"I love that audiences around the world are still so amazed by it and I'm so fired up that they're doing another one," he says. "I hope Jakob still has some life left in his step and I can still be part of that narrative, because it really was a beautiful experience to be involved."

For much more on John Cena, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE on newsstands now.

On the heels of Cena's well received work in F9 comes the highly-anticipated (and very R-rated) supervillain-centric film, The Suicide Squad, in which Cena plays relatively straight-laced, patriotic warrior Peacemaker alongside a colorful cast of characters played by: Margot Robbie, Idris Elba, Joel Kinnaman, Sean Gunn, Daniela Melchior and more.

The actor describes the Jame Gunn-directed film's unique premise and eventful plot thusly: "No one is ready for it, but everyone needs it in their life," he says.

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Cena continues: "It's a two hour and 23 minute movie with 25 main cast members. It doesn't stop. And I think that's why we had so much fun filming. Once you do a big thing in the script, it's not like, 'Okay, now we're moving to the next thing.' No, the next thing's now. 'Okay. Yeah. All right. Let's do that again.' The movie just never stops, it really doesn't. And you follow this massive, wonderfully-gifted cast on this journey that man, people are going to [need to ]bring an extra set of pants because you're going to need them after the first 10 minutes."

His Peacemaker character is already set for a spinoff series, to debut on HBO Max and Cena assures audiences if they enjoy Suicide Squad they will enjoy the new series.

"I think the best way to tease it is watch The Suicide Squad -- the early reviews are like, 'This is insane and I want more,' and if when you watch The Suicide Squad you feel the same way, you're in for a f----- up Peacemaker come January [2022].

The Suicide Squad opens in theaters and on HBO Max August 6. F9 is now playing in theaters.

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