In show business (or really any business) they don’t get much bigger than Dwayne Johnson. He is the highest-paid actor in the world, according to Forbes, and his worldwide film total is in the billions. And now, in a new movie opening this month, Johnson wants to be the next big superhero.
In the DC Comics universe, Black Adam is a prisoner turned violent demigod out for revenge.
Correspondent Tracy Smith asked Johnson, “Do you consider him a villain?”
“Sometimes I do,” he replied. “Well, I consider him an anti-hero. But it’s like reading the Bible. It’s interpretive.”
And it’s a role that seems to fit him like a tight superhero suit.
But it seems Johnson’s real superpower might be his humility.
An only child, Johnson had the humblest of beginnings: his father, Rocky Johnson, was a professional wrestler in a time when road trips were long and money was tight. “We were nomads,” he said. “We had that life until I was 16. We lived on the road. And I spent a lot of my childhood growing up in the back seat of a car.”
He attended college on a football scholarship, but injuries and bad luck eventually sent him home, defeated, with only seven dollars to his name. Years later, he would name his production company Seven Bucks Productions, as a reminder of where he started. But in the mid-90s, he turned to wrestling as a way to pull himself out of poverty.
On his autobiographical sitcom “Young Rock,” Johnson recounts how he began wrestling at WMC-TV in Memphis under the name “Flex Kavana” and how a friend named “Downtown Bruno” gave the broke future superstar a place to live i. his dilapidated trailer.
Turns out the trailer park in Walls, Mississippi is still there – and so is his old friend Bruno Lauer.
“Finally! The Rock has come back to Walls, Mississippi!” Lauer cheered.
Their old home was also pretty much as they had left it. “I haven’t been here since then,” Johnson said. “It’s the first time back. So it brings back a lot of memories.”
Smith asked, “What are you thinking?”
“Tracy, I’m so thankful. Thankful to have a friend like Bruno, thankful to have the opportunity I had and life is just so amazing. It can be, you know, just…really.”
Talk about awesome: Johnson became a huge success in the wrestling world as “The Rock,” and in 2001 he made the leap to movies. After an early success, Hollywood tried to mold him into a “typical” leading man. “They said, ‘Okay, great. But now here’s what you need to do: You need to stop exercising so much. You need to lose weight. You can’t call yourself The Rock. You can’t talk about wrestling. Let’s stay away from all that.'”
“These are all the things they told you? ‘Don’t be this anymore’?” Smith asked
“That’s right. So I tried it Tracy, I tried getting smaller and losing weight. It all felt wrong.”
“And once you started being yourself…”
“It was. When that happened, a funny thing happened: Hollywood adjusted around me. And years later, I’m sitting here with you.”
So while he can beat up bad guys on the big screen, he can also sing in an animated Disney movie, “Moana”; and he can be funny (or at least try to be) as a font of bad jokes in “Jungle Cruise.”
He also owns a wide range of businesses, among them Teremana Tequila, and it’s no secret that he likes to drink it as well as sell it.
But Dwayne Johnson says his favorite role is fathering his three daughters: his two younger girls are often seen on his Instagram page.
Smith asked, “So, you really enjoy those tea parties?”
“Tracy, I love them!”
And that’s the kind of thing that seems to make the public love him even more: In fact, he’s been talked about (seriously) as a presidential candidate. A poll from 2021 showed nearly half of voters would elect him to the White House.
But when we asked, Johnson told Smith that a run for the White House wasn’t going to happen. “It’s off the table. Yeah, it’s off the table,” he said. “I want to say this because it takes the B-side to this: I love our country and everyone in it. And I also love being a father. And that’s the most important thing for me is being a father, number one, especially at this time, this critical time in my daughters life because I know what it was like to be on the go and be so busy that I was absent for many years when my first daughter was growing up at these critical ages at this critical time in her life. And that’s what the presidency will do. So my first priority is my daughters.
“Sure, CEO sounds good! But the first thing I want to be is a dad. That’s it.”
So he can play a great superhero, no problem. But in real life, apart from his ambition, perhaps the only thing bigger than Dwayne Johnson’s muscles is his heart.
Smith asked, “If Black Adam is driven by rage today, what are you driven by?”
“Oh, that’s a good question. You saved it. That’s good! If Black Adam is driven by rage, I’m driven by passion. I’m driven by passion. I run to everything I do. Yes. Especially my daughters. So I’ll say that. I’m driven by passion … and tequila!”
To watch a trailer for “Black Adam” click the video player below:
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Story produced by John D’Amelio. Editor: Lauren Barnello.