The Rock’s on a roll in Hollywood
Graham Young meets wrestler turned movie star Dwayne Johnson.
Wrestling world champion turned Hollywood star Dwayne Johnson has the world at his feet. But the big question is this:
Arnold Schwarzenegger gatecrashed the family market after making his name in films for adults, like The Terminator. Now, will Johnson – aka The Rock – think about taking a more adult direction after enjoying himself so much in Race To Witch Mountain, Disney’s explosive new family thriller?
“I would love to be the antagonist in a franchise like The Terminator,” says Dwayne. “Any time you have the opportunity to be in a franchise and have that type of global success like The Terminator, that’s a dream come true and an incredible gift to any actor.”
There’s also the possibility that Race to Witch Mountain could itself become a franchise.
“I think the possibility is there,” he says as we chat in the suite of an exclusive London hotel.
“We’ve laid the groundwork for it, now it’s a question of how successful this movie will be globally.
“If we can find some really good success and it makes sense for all of us to do a sequel and possibly turn it into a franchise, then we’ll start talking about it.
“It all depends on how the audiences react to it. I would love for that opportunity to happen.”
It’s also true to say that he has an extraordinary warmth on screen that makes younger viewers rank him alongside Brendan Fraser (The Mummy).
“I like Brendan a lot,” says Dwayne. “I’ve got to know him over the years, and he’s got this incredible appeal.
“What’s always helped him and served him well is being self-deprecating, you can see that in his performances and I always appreciate that.”
The same could be said of Dwayne, now 36.
The Californian son of a black Canadian father and a Samoan mother was born into a wrestling dynasty with a taste for movies – his grandfather threw Sean Connery over his shoulder in 60s’ Bond movie You Only Live Twice.
“The idea of entertaining intrigued me from the time I was eight years old,” says Dwayne.
“Wrestling provided me with a great platform to entertain and I enjoyed coming to the NEC.
“I turned it into a comedy monologue every night, so for me that was my stage for stand-up comedy. It was also my theatre, too.”
Though “friendly” divorced after exactly ten years’ marriage to Dany Garcia, the mother of his beloved seven-year-old daughter Simone Alexander Johnson, only-child Dwayne admits he’d like more children himself.
He works hard to promote his own Rock Foundation to help the disadvantaged, terminally ill and child fitness in general.
And, staying with his family persona, at least for now, his next major role as the Tooth Fairy will be released on February 12 next year.
“I’m very excited about it because it was the opportunity to do something special and to bring a character that we all know to life,” he says.
“There’s some version of the Tooth Fairy in every culture around the world and it’s been testing through the roof back in the States.”