Dwayne Johnson started out as The Rock and was one one of WWE’s biggest stars. After retiring from wrestling, people wondered what he would do next, but it turned out that was only the beginning for him. Johnson managed to move in acting and went on to star in some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters and has been in the industry for over 10 years now.
Aside from acting, The Rock generated an even bigger fan base through his public image, social media presence and generally being one of the most likeable celebrities. Here’s some things that you never knew about him.
He was made for wrestling
The Rock was undoubtedly one of the best wrestlers in WWE and it turns out that this was partially due to having the sport run in his family. Johnson’s grandfather, Peter Maivia was a massive wrestling star, as was his father, Rocky Johnson.
If that wasn’t enough to convince you that he was made for the sport, his other family members in wrestling included The Wild Samoans, Yokozuna, Rikishi, Umaga and current WWE Raw Women’s Champion Nia Jax. Essentially, there was no other sport out there for him.
His grandma was in wrestling
The wrestling ties in the family didn’t end with Johnson’s father and grandfather and his grandmother, Lia Maivia also had a big role in it. Maivia was a pioneer in the business and she was one of the first ever female wrestling promoters and running the Polynesian Pro Wrestling.
She was considered to be a strong-willed businesswoman and Johnson had so much respect and love for his grandmother who was a true inspiration to him. Johnson even bought his grandmother a home after she ended up homeless.
He lived in many places
In his childhood, Johnson didn’t have much stability in where he lived due to his father being a pro wrestler. He was born in California before his family moved to New Zealand which is where Dwayne attended elementary school. Following this, he moved to Connecticut where he ended up finishing elementary school and going to middle school.
Afterwards, the family moved to Hawaii where he spent his teenage years and then he moved to Nashville for high school. If this wasn’t enough already, his family moved once more to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania where The Rock finished high school.
He had awkward teenage years
Considering The Rock is what so many people aspire to look like now, it is pretty hard to believe that he was anything but chiseled and handsome, but he actually went through a rough time in his teenage years.
Johnson admitted that he had “curly half-Afro” and everyday after school he would indulge in donuts and cookies which led to him having numerous breakouts. At 16, he was 6 foot 4 and weighed 225 pounds. This was all before he became the 2016 ‘Sexiest Man Alive’.
His nickname was embarrassing
Today, everyone knows Dwayne Johnson as ‘The Rock’ and that is far from an embarrassing nickname, but in college, his teammates decided to give him a very awkward name.
When he attended the University of Miami, he was known as Dewey Johnson, a name his mom called him and it was overheard by the rest of the team. To this day, his teammates don’t let him live it down and he will always be Dewey Johnson to them, despite the fact the whole world knows him as The Rock.
He wanted to join the FBI
We can’t imagine The Rock being anything other than a superstar wrestler or huge movie star, but it turns out that when he was studying at the University of Miami he had other ideas about his career. He was studying criminology and physiology and from this he admitted “I wanted to work for either the FBI or CIA.”
Although he gained both degrees, a professor told him he would most likely need a law degree too, Johnson decided to change career paths and do something completely different.
The truth behind his tattoo
In 2003, Johnson decided to get an enormous tattoo which extends from his chest to half way down his left arm. Instead of just getting it for the sake of it, the tattoo holds huge meaning Johnson. The tattoo is a partial Pe’a which is common in traditional Samoan culture and it tells the story of his ancestors and his own life.
The entire tattoo took 60 hours of work to complete and it is now synonymous with the actor. His Moana character even has a very similar piece of body art.
Wrestling fans didn’t like him
The Rock made his WWE debut in 1996 as Rocky Maivia and he wasn’t immediately liked by the crowds. Johnson’s character was supposed to be the hero, but wrestling fans seem to make their own decisions about who they do and don’t like.
Every time Johnson would step into the ring, the stadium would chant “Rocky sucks”, but this only spurred on Johnson. He later admitted that from this, he developed his egotistical character which ironically was what won the fans over.
He played his dad in acting
Johnson got his first acting gig in 1999 after becoming very famous from WWE. He appeared in an episode of That 70s Show and played his father, Rocky Johnson. Dwayne donned a wig and mustache and was the spitting image of his father.
The episode was appropriately titled “That Wrestling Show”. This was Johnson’s first taste of acting and the episode was very well received by fans, but no one would suspect that he was about to become a huge actor.
Willie Nelson gave him his first guitar
Aside from being incredibly talented at wrestling and acting, it turns out that The Rock is also a talented musician and he has displayed his skills numerous times in the WWE ring. In 2010, Johnson divulged that country music legend Willie Nelson gifted the wrestler with his first guitar and the two had been friends since 2000.
The Rock knew how to put on a show and WWE was his stage so he loved to entertain the crowds with his singing and guitar playing.
He’s terrified of spiders
Considering how big The Rock is, one would assume that he is absolutely fearless and stepping into the WWE ring week after week built him up to tackle anything. Well, it turns out that he has quite a common phobia as he is scared of spiders.
When he was on the Ellen Degeneres Show in 2007, the talk show host helped him overcome his fear by giving him a tarantula to handle. He later admitted that although he had faced the spiders head on, he was still scared of rollercoasters.
He doesn’t hold back on his cheat meals
Professional athletes have to adhere to a strict diet and in order to stay at their peak fitness, they have to give up a lot of naughty foods that are filled with sugar and unhealthy fats. However, once a week, many people will forgo their diets for a day and have a cheat meal where they allow themselves to indulge in their favorite foods.
As for The Rock, no cheat meals are as epic as his as he documents all of them on Instagram. He said his favorite cheat meal is double dough pizza, pancakes and peanut butter brownies with a Diet Coke. He really goes all out.
He put words in the dictionary
The Rock was one of the biggest stars in wrestling in the 2000s, everyone knew who he was and everyone knew his catchphrases. One of the most famous ones was when he would tell opponents he was going to “lay the smackdown” on them.
The word smackdown started to be used much more frequently which led to it being added to the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary in 2007. WWE even has an event now called Smackdown and it is known around the world.
Jumanji is his most popular movie
The Rock might be best known for his recent roles in The Fast and the Furious franchise and of course Disney’s Moana, but neither of these films are his most successful picture.
It turns out that the 2017 movie Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is his most successful movie at the U.S box office but his highest grossed movie worldwide is 2015’s Furious 7 which grossed $1.5 billion. It’s not surprising why he is one of the most successful actors.
The story behind his production company name
The Rock owns his own production company which goes by the name of Seven Bucks Productions. Since 2016, every film he has starred in has been produced by his company.
When it came to naming the business, he looked in his wallet to see how much cash he had when he was cut from the Canadian Football League prior to getting into wrestling. It seems that those seven bucks were instrumental in the rest of his career.
He held a record for selfies
In 2015, The Rock set a new Guinness World Record for the most selfies taken within three minutes. During the premiere of his movie San Andreas, Johnson wanted to make sure the fans got what they wanted so went on a massive selfie spree.
In just three minutes he took 105 selfies with different fans on the red carpet. The person who then broke The Rocks record was Donnie Wahlberg followed by a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
He saved his mother’s life
People say they will do anything for their mothers, but Johnson really put this into practice and saved his mother’s life when he was a teenager. At 15-years-old, Johnson and his family were having a hard time as they had lost their family apartment and his mother tried to take her life.
Johnson explained that she stopped their car on a Nashville highway and was about to walk into oncoming traffic. Dwayne’s instincts immediately kicked in and he grabbed her shoulder and pulled her back.
His Moana character was based on his grandfather
Moana became one of the biggest films of 2016 and the Disney movie brought in $690 million at the box office. Johnson’s character was named Maui and the actor explained that he took inspiration for Maui from his late Grandfather, Peter Maivia.
In his prime, Maivia was a legendary Samoan wrestler and his talents even landed him a part in the James Bond movie You Only Live Twice. Sadly, he died when Dwayne was just 10-years-old but he was always a huge inspiration on his life.
Moana was intimidating for him
Dwayne Johnson might be one of the greatest wrestlers, slamming people around in the ring, but he admitted that voicing Maui on Moana was one of the most daunting moments in his life. Johnson didn’t have much experience in voicing a character and wanted to make sure he got it spot on.
He admitted that he listened to the song “You’re Welcome”, written by Lin-Manuel Miranda for months on end before he actually had to record it in the studio. His co-star Auli’i Cravalho said he “nailed it.”
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