In 2017 Dwayne Johnson featured second in the Forbes Highest paid actors’ list with a turnover of $65 million thanks to films such as Jumanji and Fate of the Furious. But not everyone knows about Dwayne’s early life and what got him to the global superstar status he has today.
Johnson was born on 2 May 1972 in Hayward, California to Ata Johnson and Rocky Johnson. Dwayne’s family had a heritage of professional wrestling with his father Rocky Johnson and grandfather Peter Malvia both being professional wrestlers. This is what influenced Dwayne’s first stage name when he went by “Rocky Malvia”, but he didn’t like it and soon shortened it to “The Rock”. Even though Dwayne Johnson has lived in the United States most of his life, he holds Samoan, Canadian and American citizenship through his parents.
Throughout high school and college, Dwayne Johnson was a promising football player. He’s known for his size and athleticism which led pupils at his high school to believe he was an undercover cop as he was 6’4 and 225 pounds at that age! Dwayne played football at the University of Miami and even played professionally for the Calgary Stampeders in the Canadian football league. His career was cut short due to injury, which was when he turned to wrestling having grown up watching his father in the ring.
During his time at University, he met his first wife Dany Garcia and they married a day after his 25th birthday in 1997. They had a daughter together called Simone Alexandra but split in 2007. Johnson has since found love elsewhere and at the time of writing, is in a relationship with musician Lauren Hashian who he had a daughter with, in 2015.
In Dwayne’s early days in the WWE, he actually went by the moniker “Flex Kavana” but then changed it “The Rock” a year later. He’d go on to be one of WWE’s most popular wrestlers with his famous slogan “If you smell what the Rock is cooking!” In his wrestling career, he won the WWE heavyweight championship eight times.
After wrestling, Dwayne Johnson wanted to forge a career in acting with his first role being that of the Scorpion King in The Mummy Returns (2001). The role earned him $5.5M which was a Guinness World Record in 2007 for highest paid actor in a debut film. The success of the film would spawn a spin-off The Scorpion King (2002) which would see Johnson in his first leading role in a film. In this time Dwayne also started using his own name as opposed to The Rock which was actually owned by WWE still and meant that Vince Mcmahon was actually credited as a producer on The Mummy Returns. Johnson now owns the name and makes cameos as The Rock now and again to the delight of WWE fans.
Dwayne Johnson also has other business ventures and released his autobiography in 2000 under the title “The Rock says…” which spent several weeks at number 1 on the New York best sellers list. Johnson also owns his own production company called Seven Bucks Productions that has produced several of the movies that he’s starred in, including Baywatch (2017 and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017).
Almost everyone knows the big blockbusters that Dwayne Johnson’s been in but what about the films he was almost in? In 2002 he was being lined up to play Johnny Bravo in the live-action adaptation of the popular Cartoon Network show but it never came to fruition. Then in 2005, he was Tim Burton’s second choice behind Johnny Depp to play Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Many of Dwayne Johnson’s films include dangerous stunts which he cannot do for insurance purposes. The stunt double he enlists for these stunts is actually his nephew called Tanoai Reed. In one such stunt which he did himself in The Scorpion King, he managed to knock out his co-star Micheal Clarke Duncan in a fight scene by accident. Dwayne Johnson’s broken many records but the strangest has got to be for “most selfies in 3 minutes” which he earnt in 2015 at the premiere of San Andreas after he managed an astonishing 105 selfies with fans!
Johnson’s soaring success shows no signs of abating and he was only beaten out by Mark Wahlberg for highest paid actor last year on Forbes list. His most recent film Rampage which is based on an 80’s arcade game has been ranked at number one in the world for the last two weeks. Rumours in 2017 also began circulating that he was considering a run for the presidency as he noted when speaking to Ellen Degeneres as saying: “I’m seriously considering it, yes”. In the future, he’s also expressed a desire to play a Bond Villain like his grandfather Peter Malvia in You Only Live Twice in 1967.
Despite the dizzying heights of his career, Dwayne Johnson’s been open about his struggle with depression after his mother Ata tried to commit suicide in 1987. He recalls her walking into oncoming traffic and a 15-year-old Johnson having to drag her back to safety. He has since come to terms with the ordeal and is quoted as saying: “We both healed but we’ve always got to do our best to pay attention when other people are in pain”.
Who knows what next lies in store for Dwayne Johnson but you can guarantee he won’t be retiring any time soon!