Dwayne “The Rock” Johnsons is many things. He's the hardest working guy in showbiz, a charming old-school action hero, the highest paid actor on the planet, a former WWE wrestler, a most attractive man alive winner, and a revitalizer for aging movie franchises. Heck, it seemed inconceivable that a decade ago the Fast and Furious franchise could go on for much longer, let alone regularly power to a billion dollars.
Through sheer force of will and charisma, he has reshaped the landscape in Hollywood. He’s reportedly a nice guy too, which, in an industry as brutally cut-throat as the movie industry, does not count for nothing.
It’s been said that he has the gift that Stan Lee also possesses-- when he talks to you, he’ll make you feel like he’s known you your whole life.
Though he is a towering figure of astonishing success and clearly a man living his best life, the road to Hollywood gold has been bumpy and fraught with potholes.
However, that’s what makes Dwayne Johnson even cooler. For as much as we all adore success when combined with a winning smile and superficial charm, overcoming adversity and persevering through the hard times is what makes someone truly worthy of admiration.
With that said, here are the 15 Crazy Things You Didn’t Know About The Rock.
Dwayne Johnson had a rough go of it growing up in Hawaii. At 14, his family was evicted from their small apartment, and he turned to crime to make some fast cash. He was involved in a theft ring that targeted high-end tourist spots.
The pain of being evicted and seeing his mother in tears fuelled his desire to take action – any action – even if it wasn’t always the right move. However, it was certainly a formative experience for young Johnson. After that he decided to take control the only way he could – by improving his body.
“The successful men I knew of – Stallone, Arnold, Bruce Willis – they were men of action.” It isn’t often that your heroes become your peers.
At the tender age of 16, Dwayne Johnson was already so far into puberty that he could effortlessly rock an old-school gangster look, complete with a pencil thin moustache just above his lip. Not to mention the fact that he was already a stunning 6’4 and weighed 215 pounds.
The high school picture circulated on twitter until it was seen by Johnson himself. He tweeted “I attended multiple high schools in 4 years. Hawaii, Nashville, and Pennsylvania. Everyone thought I was an undercover cop. True story.”
Ironically, it was the furthest thing from the truth. At the time, Dwayne Johnson was putting his manly looks to other uses, such as chilling in dive bars and hustling cars from hapless folks.
Although Dwayne Johnson had a few brushes with the law in his youth, he actually also holds a degree in criminology. He earned the degree and at the same time, played college football for the Miami Hurricanes as a defensive lineman.
In 1995, he graduated from Miami University with a Bachelor of General Studies in criminology and physiology. Johnson, while obviously in a league of his own as a Hollywood actor, is clearly a triple threat of sorts-- he has talent, charisma, and brains.
We all know that The Rock never got to apply his degree to a career. However, it’s fun to consider that he might’ve used some of that higher education know-how to craft his entertainingly antagonistic persona during his tenure on WWF.
It turns out that for the Johnson family, wrestling and superstardom is in their blood. His father was Rocky “Soulman” Johnson, the original Rock.
Similarly, Dwayne Johnson’s grandfather Peter Maivia was an NWA Hawaii Heavyweight champ and made history with his partner Tony Atlas in 1983 when they became the first African-American pair to win the World Tag-Team Championship.
However, it was Dwayne Johnson’s father who instilled in his ten year old son an insane and unshakable work ethic. During their intensely rigorous wrestling training sessions, Rocky would say to his boy “If you throw up go outside and if you want sympathy go home to your mother… but either way you’re gonna work you’re a** off to earn your respect.”
If you’re familiar at all with The Rock, you know that there’s probably not another person alive who’s more of a gym junkie than he is. You could probably deduce that just by looking at him.
In a profile for GQ, it was revealed that Dwayne Johnson owns a private gym situated in what writer Caity Weaver refers to as “one of the worst top ten locations I have ever been.”
In fact, The Rock insisted on driving her himself to the location, as the neighbourhood was so dangerous. The gym is located in a warehouse district in California.
It’s quite surprising considering the fact that he could literally own a gym anywhere in the world. However, it makes sense if you look at it from a particular point of view: every Superman needs his Fortress of Solitude.
The Rock commanded such a hardcore fanbase that for his cameo in the 2001 adventure movie The Mummy Returns, his first big screen role, he had enough power to parlay that goodwill into a starring role for the 2002 Mummy prequel spin-off The Scorpion King, where he earned 5.5 million dollars.
Compared to what he earns per flick today, it isn’t much. However, it’s without a doubt a hefty sum. So hefty, in fact, that he still retains the Guinness World Record for highest pay check earned by an actor for their first starring role.
The Scorpion King was ripped apart by critics and isn’t remembered as even a fun trashy classic today. However, it was a key stepping stone for The Rock to become the Hollywood superstar he is today.
Not content with merely being “the most electrifying man in sports entertainment” or the highest paid actor in the world, Dwayne Johnson is the kind of overachiever who also holds the Guinness World Records title for most selfies taken within a period of 3 minutes.
During this time, he took a whopping 105 selfies with excited fans at the red carpet premiere of San Andreas. (Kim Kardashian, eat your heart out.)
A Guinness World Records adjudicator was present at the premiere. Several selfies were disqualified, presumably because they were blurry and weren’t fully viewable from the neck upward.
However, 105 selfies inside of 3 minutes, especially in the chaotic and stimulating atmosphere of a red carpet premiere, is a gobsmacking achievement. It's a terrific shoulder workout, if nothing else.
Rocky Maivia, later to be simply known as The Rock, had a less-than-stellar WWF debut in 1996. This was during a time of the Attitude Era, when the bad boy was celebrated in the ring. Young Rocky surely had the moves. However, the personality was lacking. It wasn’t long before crowds were booing him despite the fact that he was a "good guy."
A couple years later, Rocky became The Rock, an arrogant and brash wrestler-- the man who everyone loved to hate. “The People’s Champion” was what he initially called himself in order to antagonize the crowd.
Fans couldn’t get enough of this showmanship. Dwayne Johnson was clearly having a ball tossing out insults like “candy a**” and “jabroni” and asking fans if they could smell what he was cookin'.
In order to maintain that superhuman physique, The Rock consumes a ten-pound mountain of food every day-- each day, he eats seven meals.
The meals consist of what you’d expect: broccoli, eggs, fish, potatoes, rice, and an assortment of other vegetables. The Rock is particularly fond of cod fish, eating roughly 821 pounds of it per year.
However, this unique diet is not just for fuelling his strict workout regimen, but also to get through movie shoots, press tours, and whatever else he must go through. He averages around 5000 calories a day-- twice what the average man consumes per day.
However, The Rock doesn’t skimp out on cheat day either. On one cheat day, The Rock posted his cheat meal: 21 peanut butter brownies, 4 double dough pizzas, and a dozen pancakes.
Dwayne Johnson went through a dark period when, at the age of 23, he was cut from the Canadian Football League team. He succumbed to depression, refusing to leave his parents’ small apartment.
The Rock opened up about this time on an episode of Oprah’s Master Class.
The Rock said “I wish I had someone at that time who could just pull me aside and say, ‘hey, it’s going to be okay. It’s going to be okay. You’ve just gotta remember to hold onto that fundamental quality of faith. Have faith, and on the other side of your pain is something good.'”
Remarkably, he was later asked to rejoin the team. However, Johnson turned down the coach, feeling in his gut that something else was on the horizon. It was superstardom, of course.
It’s hard to believe that the Fast and Furious franchise could be the franchise of familial love if The Rock weren’t cast in Fast Five. Yet that’s exactly what nearly happened.
According to Vin Diesel, a fan suggested the idea of introducing The Rock to the franchise. Although the role of FBI agent Luke Hobbs was originally written for Tommy Lee Jones, Diesel agreed that The Rock could really bring something special to the franchise-- and he did.
However, it’s easy to see traces of Tommy Lee Jones’ most famous role as US Marhsall Jones in The Fugitive in the script. Those traces are there beneath all of the baby oil, tattoos, and exaggerated but lovable machismo. We can’t imagine Tommy Lee Jones hosting a cookout for the “fambly,” though.
One awesome word that the Mariam Webster added to their dictionary in 2007 was “smackdown”. This just so happens to be the word that The Rock introduced to the world in 1997. To lay the smackdown on someone is to unequivocally beat them in any context.
It was a word born of necessity. Smacking an opponent into the dirt wouldn’t cover the severity of The Rock’s punishments, both verbal and physical. Neither would “taking them down” seem to be a sufficient enough phrase to convey the awesomeness of his particular brand of butt kicking.
However, combining both phrases to create the ultimate "smackdown" just about covers it.
Of course, the word would go onto take a life of its own, as it later became the name of a WWF/WWE show that aired on Friday nights.
The Rock hosting Saturday Night Live in 2000 arguably helped to catapult him to mainstream success and turn him into the celebrity he is today.
In 2000, he was only famous for being a WWF wrestler. He was unproven in other areas of entertainment, so this was a real gamble on the part of SNL. However, it was such a successful debut that The Rock was asked back to host multiple times.
Indeed, he holds the rarest of distinctions-- he is the only athlete to be part of the Five Timers club. He’s in good company there with Tom Hanks, Steve Martin, and Paul Simon.
Looking back on his sketches, particularly Morning Latte, it’s plain to see hints of The Rock’s off-the-charts charisma that would go on to serve him -- and multiple movie franchises – well.
In the mid-2001, The Rock introduced the newest Microsoft gaming console, the X-Box, with Bill Gates. Remember the first X-Box with its chunky controller? The Rock introduced it.
It was a cute bit. Both Gates and The Rock flatter each other and make for a solid duo-- The Rock, brash and charismatic, Bill Gates, meek and nerdy, also extol the virtues of the X-Box machine.
Weaponizing his trademark charisma, The Rock says: “The X-Box is everything The Rock is: cutting edge, powerful, exhilarating. And like The Rock, it will be the most electrifying thing coming out this year.”
All the classic Rockisms are present and accounted for in the brief video, including a classic “It doesn’t matter what you think!” The Rock also constantly speaks in the third person.
The year 2000 was clearly decisive for The Rock’s career. Not only did he host SNL, he also made a cameo in the Star Trek: Voyager episode “Tsunkatse” as The Champion, a gladiatorial contender.
At the time, WWF Smackdown and Voyager both aired on UPN, so a crossover of sorts made sense.
The Champion bears a striking resemblance to The Rock – and not just in terms of his appearance. One of his finishing moves is “The People’s Elbow” and he often made a very Rock-like gesture in the form of “The People’s Eyebrow.” Of course, The Rock performed his own stunts on the show.
The episode drew 4.1 million viewers, which was a season high. Everybody wanted to smell what The Rock was cookin’, whether they be Star Trek fan or not.
Can you think of any other interesting facts about The Rock? Sound off in the comments!