Dwayne Johnson is an inspiration to many people, and the Kawerau chef called Kelly Mcnaught has a body identical to Johnson’s. He became aware that they are similar when he was approached by a customer in a place where Kelly was serving food and asked him for a photo.
After that, the 37-year-old chef got an odd message. He said: “Then I got a Facebook message from an agent asking if I’d go to a movie casting. “I sat down in this massive room with all these people, and The Rock walked in. I was like, ‘Whoa.’ I shook his hand, and the first thing I said was ‘Do you know who you are?’. We had a bit of a laugh.”
According to Mcnaught, there was a southern hemisphere casting call for a stand-in for Johnson in the big disaster movie called San Andreas. There were so many applicants, but it all came down to the six men, some of which were professional athletes and strongmen “and me, some dude who was a chef who got called in,” recalls Kelly.
“The next day, they said, ‘Quit your job, you’re working with The Rock.’ And that was how I ended up in the movie industry,” says Mcnaught. As he remembers, he was a substitution for Dwayne Johnson before filming so that the scenes could be set up, cameras put in place and lighting secured.
Initially, Kelly was a backup body double to Johnson’s cousin and stuntman Tanoai Reed, but he quickly replaced The Rock himself in some of the scenes in which Dwayne’s face cannot be seen.
Kelly confessed: “I’m sitting in a helicopter, there’s the co-stars. We ran through the scene, and they were like, ‘Yeah, that’s good, but we’re gonna do it again, breathe!’. I literally didn’t take one breath through the entire scene.”
Being a replacement for Dwayne Johnson is not easy, because of his masculine posture and believe it or not, but Moana actor is 1.96m tall, whereas Kelly is 8cm shorter. Although he was a personal trainer himself, he had to change his entire regime drastically to become like Johnson. Mcnaught was in a gym on a daily basis, and he went from 90kg to 120kg with only 7 percent of body fat so that he can be the same as The Rock.
“My call-time would be 3 o’clock in the morning. I’d wake up at one, go to the gym and train. Then I’d train on my lunch-break, and after work. Three times a day, seven days a week, for six months. Five hours a day. For breakfast, I was eating 10 to 12 eggs. Then I’d just eat through the day. For dinner I’d have like two whole chickens,” admits the double.
Kelly also said that it took four artists in order to cover his tattoos and apply an imitation of the body art Johnson has for a more realistic look. He was surprised that Johnson was a part of the make-up team at the beginning when Kelly joined the crew. Mcnaught continued: “We literally stopped production when this boy that was sick came in, and they drew his tattoos, and Johnson helped draw his tattoos on him, he got photos with him. He goes out of his way to help people because he is such an icon. He’s one of the most humble gentlemen you could ever meet. He says hello to everybody on set, even if you’re the guy running coffees. He tries to learn everybody’s name. He openly smiles and shakes people’s hands.”
He also added: “He didn’t have to do anything for me, I was just privileged enough to work there. But he invited me out to dinners. When we sat down and had a chat the first time, he asked me about my family and everything about me, and said, ‘How are you finding it? I said I’ve never actually worked in the movie industry before’. I said, ‘Thank you, coz I’ve learned so much just from watching you on set.’ He’s so professional. He puts 100 percent into everything.”
Mcnaught built up muscles, shaved his head and because of the similar facial features he was confused with Johnson on numerous occasions. He even had requests to do the “People’s Eyebrow” which he gladly accepted, as he became a master in that as well. It is a move perfected by The Rock during his WWE days, and he lowers one eyebrow while raising the other. Mcnaught will play a buccaneer in the upcoming Dead Men Tell No Tales movie and because of that his weight dropped to 84kg. Kelly states that working with Johnny Depp, who plays the notorious Captain Jack Sparrow is a joy.
Mcnaught currently weighs 93kg, and he once again tries to gain weight because he will be back for another movie as The Rock’s double. He recalls being 125kg and says: “I was about 125kg, massive, aesthetically looked amazing but all I could do was three pull-ups.” We will definitely see more of Kelly Mcnaught.