Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has revealed to fans that he once was in the running to play big screen tough guy Jack Reacher. Making perhaps the smoothest transition from the WWE to movies than any other of his professional wrestler counterparts, Johnson is arguably the biggest box office draw in the world right now. Making his big screen debut as the Scorpion King in The Mummy Returns in 2002, Johnson's star has steadily risen over the years with roles in such hits as Walking Tall, Gridiron Gang and Get Smart, and his career hit full stride in 2011 when joined the Fast and Furious franchise. This weekend could signal Johnson's biggest opener yet when The Fate of the Furious hits more than 4,000 screens with a projected worldwide box office take of more than $400 million.
Nobody knows how Johnson's career would have been influenced had his career taken a different path, but it turns out he pursued a big opportunity about 10 years ago that eventually ended up in Tom Cruise's corner. Responding to a tweet from a fan who asked why he didn't play Jack Reacher, Johnson says he "went after the role, but Cruise got it." Despite coming up short, The Rock remained solid in his resolve to pursue other roles, saying that losing out on Jack Reacher was "great motivation for me to always stay hungry."
Yup, luv the character. Bout 10yrs ago I went after the role, but Cruise got it. Was great motivation for me to always stay hungry. https://t.co/bwpZfEVIMm
— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) April 12, 2017
Johnson seems like he'd have been a natural to play Jack Reacher, at least as he's conceived in author Lee Child's book series. The ex-Army investigator on paper is about 6-foot-5 and about 250 pounds, a far cry from Cruise's diminutive frame (he's listed on IMDb at 5-foot-7) in comparison. And while fans quibbled about the obvious discrepancy of the character's stature, there's no question that Cruise had the presence and physical commitment (how do you argue with an actor who insists on doing his own stunts?) to pull the role off.
As it turns out, Jack Reacher was only a moderate box office hit with a domestic take of $80 million plus $138 million in foreign territories for a total global haul of $218 million. The film's 2016 sequel, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back earned far less, ending with $58.6 million domestically and $103 million overseas for a worldwide take of $162 million.
It doesn't take much thought to deduct that losing out on playing Jack Reacher was Johnson's gain. Whether he's interacting with fans or promoting his films, it's easy to see that the actor is having the time of his life. Refusing to get stuck in one role, he clearly loves taking risks – whether it be playing lead in Tooth Fairy or singing 'You're Welcome" in Moana – and fans and critics love him for it.
The great thing is, there are much bigger days ahead for Johnson after The Fate of the Furious with Baywatch in May, and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle in December. And with the DCEU's Black Adam somewhere down the road, one thing is certain about the man who once wanted to play Jack Reacher: No film role is ever out of reach.
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