Dwayne Johnson is one of the biggest Hollywood stars and if you want to know what motivated him to enter the acting business and become so famous you need to go way back to Freedom High in Bethlehem, Pa. The Johnsons had a rough life, and young Dwayne would often switch schools, and he eventually landed in Freedom, which was his fourth high school in just three years. Dwayne did not behave well in school, and he was a bit problematic. Both his father and granddad were professional wrestlers, and this was the reason why other kids wanted to go against him. He always fought them which would get him in trouble with authority.
Here is just one of many examples. Dwayne Johnson didn’t like the smell in the boys’ bathroom, so he went to the one reserved for teachers only. He was told by some gentlemen who entered the bathroom that he couldn’t be here, but Johnson paid no attention at all. He washed his hands calmly and walked out past him, without saying anything. However, Johnson felt bad, and he found out that the teacher was called Jody Cwik, so he apologized.
Johnson said: “I apologized for being such a punk,” Johnson says, laughing at the memory. “I didn’t want to be that kid. He shook my hand and wouldn’t let go. Crushing handshake. And he looked into my eyes and said, ‘Son, I want you to come out and play football for me.’ That was the day everything changed.”
Considering that Dwayne’s father was on the road almost all the time, Johnson needed a father figure which he found in Jody Cwik. Football gave famous actor to be, a much-needed discipline, and in his teammates, he found reliable friends. One of his family members was a Navy Seal he said: ”I’ve got warrior blood, bro.” He was a 6’4,” and he weighed 230 pounds as a junior and played at the tight end position.
He also added: ”I fell in love with the game. It was more than that, actually. It gave my life a purpose. Coach Cwik sat me down and said, ‘Listen, your family doesn’t have any money. Your grades are average. If you’re going to get out of this town and make a different life for yourself, football is the vehicle.’ He explained how I could get a scholarship, and that was a whole shift in my psychology. Suddenly I had a chance to become the first person in my family to go to college. I became obsessed with making it.”
He received many offers including the ones from UCLA, Penn State, Florida State and Clemson. However, the one offer he wanted the most, was from the U, so he decided to call the school’s recruiting coordinator. He talked with the head coach Dennis Erickson next day, and the U was the place where he would go. He arrived on the campus in the fall of 1990 and became a part of the Hurricanes’ outstanding history. “Oh, man, the s— talking was an art form,” he says. “It never stopped, and it was creative. It helped me when I got into wrestling, right, tapping into all of that for the Rock,” said Dwayne.
Johnson was definitely remembered and this is what the Ed Oregon, who was a defensive line coach at that time, said: “He had tremendous get-off, he was strong, he could use his hands, he was tough as nails, and he worked his ass off. Dewey was a helluva football player. I thought he had a chance to be an All-America.”
Unfortunately, Johnson hurt his shoulder in practice, and the surgery was inevitable. Warren Sapp substituted Dwayne, and his football career was on the decline from that point on. Moreover, he underwent four knee surgeries, which set him back even more. Dwayne Johnson said: “People saw the cockiness, but no one knows how hard we worked,” he adds. “There was an accountability there, and Coach Orgeron was a big part of that. In games, it seemed as if those offensive linemen were holding us on every play. Coach didn’t care. I complained one time, and he got in my face and said, ‘They can hold you, they can kick you in the b*lls, they can spit in your face—are you going to cry about it or are you going to overcome that and make the play?’ That’s bigger than football, man. That’s a whole worldview.”
He believed back then that he wasn’t getting enough playing time, so he caused problems. Johnson stated: “I was always running hot because I wasn’t getting the playing time that I thought I deserved. The truth of the matter is Warren Sapp was just a better player, but when you’re young, you can’t see that. Me and Kevin were in a coach’s office, and he was talking trash, as always, but this time I just lost it. It was like a movie fight—the desk got turned over, stuff was flying all over the place. We spilled out onto the weight room floor, still going at it. He wouldn’t stop talking, so I decided to pull his tongue out. I stuffed my big ol’ hand into his mouth, and I had a couple of fingers around his tongue, but it was so damn slippery! I was quite serious about pulling it out, but I couldn’t quite get a hold of it. Eventually, I gave up, the fight ended, and two minutes later we were hugging each other. It was so dumb.”
Johnson’s career in Miami was done, and he recorded four sacks and 78 tackles. However, NFL teams didn’t want Johnson, so he was forced to sign with the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League in 1995. After only two months, this team decided to cut him, so he went back to live with his parents in Tampa. He had no money at the time. This year Forbes named our fav superstar the highest paid Hollywood actor with $64.5 million per year. He earns that money from the various movies in which he has acted and from his company called Seven Bucks Productions. Some of the shows from Seven Bucks Productions are Ballers, Rock and A Hard Place. Rock was a host of “Rock the Troops” a two-hour special show that was filmed at Pearl Harbor before 45,000 servicemen and servicewomen. Some of the movie projects in which he is currently taking part are Moana, Jumanji, Fast 8 and Baywatch.
According to the Toby Emmerich, the president and COO of New Line Cinema, “Dwayne is now everyone’s first choice for any big role.” He was also an executive producer of the movie “Central Intelligence” in which Johnson has the lead role alongside his friend Kevin Hart. “Maybe once in a generation you get a performer with this kind of versatility and range and likability. It’s rarified air. And for him to have come from a sports background? The odds of that happening are one in a hundred million. Every athlete in every sport wants to try to be an actor, but how many make it?” – added Emmerich.
Johnson’s worst period in life was when he fought with depression. This happened after his football career was over. He says: “I’d always had a very specific vision of my future. I was going to be Michael Strahan: I would win a Super Bowl with the Giants. I’d have the beautiful wife, the big house … strangely, that house was in New Jersey. I think about it all the time: What if I had been a little better at football? Maybe I would’ve had that success and become complacent. But I didn’t get to walk away [from football] on my terms, and that lit a fire that still burns. I wanted that life I had envisioned, but I had to find another way.”
He was already an athlete and the males in the family were into professional wrestling, so he decided to give it a go. Johnson joined World Wrestling Federation in 1996 and believe it or not this was his first step towards an acting job. At that time he also got the famous nickname “The Rock.” “I’ve always been a performer,” he says. “When I was eight years old, I used to crack up my family by doing Richard Pryor monologs. So the showmanship of wrestling came easy to me. I loved playing the heel because of the intense reaction it generated. That was my No. 1 thing every night: I just wanted to connect with the audience.”
Johnson first started appearing in some cameo roles on That ’70s Show and Star Trek: Voyager. He debuted in The Mummy Returns 15 years ago, and the movie was successful. In 2002 he got the lead role in the spinoff The Scorpion King. Dany Garcia, Johnson’s business manager and the co-founder of Seven Bucks said: “That was a wake-up call for Hollywood.” She is his ex-wife, and they share custody of their daughter Simone. She also added: “People in this town didn’t really know what to make of Dwayne, but from the beginning, it was very obvious that his very large, very loyal fan base was going to follow him on this new journey.”
After that, Johnson kept appearing in different movies playing diverse roles. The producers love working with Dwayne, and he enjoys being on set. Beau Flynn had a chance to work with Johnson on a movie called “San Andreas.” He declared: “Dwayne loves to be coached. It’s part of his vernacular coming from football. He understands a team philosophy. On these big action movies the daily spend rate is incredible, so you need your star to come through when it’s his turn. I love to get Dwayne fired up before a big scene. You can see the intensity and excitement build inside of him, and that moment is probably no different than what he was like running out onto the field for the University of Miami.”
Let’s take a look at the show called Ballers. It is about Spencer Strasmore, who won Super Bowl and plays at linebacker. He struggles to continue his life after football, and it is the same struggle Johnson had. This character depicts him actually. In the pilot episode, he gives an emotional monologue. “My own experiences in football, and in life, have informed every word out of my mouth on that show. It’s so real,” he says. “I was drawn to the material because we put these players on a pedestal, but the fans never get to see the struggle. It’s all here—the highs and the excitement of that life, but also the messiness.”
Moreover, Dwayne added: ”To show you how much football affected me, for years I would have these dreams where I was playing in the Super Bowl. I’m the star player, and everyone in the stadium is waiting for me, and I walk out of the tunnel and I don’t have my cleats on. Or I can’t find my shoulder pads. It started to get weird, like sometimes I would run out of the tunnel, and my uniform fit like a diaper. I couldn’t shake it.”
There is no doubt that the dream of becoming the Super Bowl champion will always remain his wish. However, he is now a dominant figure in Hollywood and is known across the globe. On social media, he left his mark, and he is followed by many people. He even wants to pursue a political career. As he said: ”It’s something I’m very serious about in the future.”