Dwayne Johnson The Game Plan Interview, By Tim Nasson
Dwayne Douglas “The Rock” Johnson was born in Hayward, California on May 2, 1972. While growing up, Dwayne traveled around a lot with his parents and watched his father, a professional boxer, perform in the boxing ring. During his high school years, Dwayne began playing football and he soon received a full scholarship from the University of Miami where he had tremendous success as a football player. In 1995, Dwayne suffered a back injury which cost him a place in the NFL. He then signed a 3 year deal with the Canadian League but left after a year to pursue a career in wrestling. He made his wrestling debut in the USWA under the name Flex Kavanah where he won the tag team championship with Brett Sawyer. In 1996, Dwayne joined the WWE and became Rocky Maivia where he joined a group known as “The Nation of Domination” and turned heel. Rocky eventually took over leadership of the “Nation” and began taking the persona of “The Rock.”
After the “Nation” split, “The Rock” joined another elite group of wrestlers known as the “Corporation” and began a memorable feud with Steve Austin. Soon “The Rock” was kicked out of the “Corporation”. He turned face and became known as “The Peoples Champion”. In 2000, “The Rock” took time off from WWE to film his first movie, an appearance in The Mummy Returns (2001). He returned in 2001 during the WCW/ECW invasion where he joined a team of WWE wrestlers at The Scorpion King (2002), a prequel to The Mummy Returns (2001). He is currently married to Dany Johnson (Garcia) and they have a daughter named Simone Alexandra, born in 2001.
“The Rock” is currently starring in the Walt Disney family film, The Game Plan, which filmed in Boston last fall and winter.
Tim Nasson: Talk about the general appeal of this character.
“The Rock”: – From the get go, I thought, “Wow, what a great character to play, and from scratch.” It’s great when you can create a character like this, from scratch, and be collaborative with the director and everybody on board. For me, personally, I love comedy and I love self-deprecating comedy. Physical comedy is great, dark comedy is great, but self-deprecating comedy, for me, always takes the cake, so to speak. It’s great, when you just have the ability to laugh at yourself. I think we all should. There are different moments. For me, putting on the ballet outfit to the bubble bath, and you name it, is funny. That appealed to me. And, selfishly, for me, being a proud daddy – I’ve got a little 6 year old girl at home, who challenges me every day, just like Madison challenged me in the movie – I wanted to make a movie that she could come and see. Of course, the goal is to make a big family comedy, a big broad comedy, but for me, personally, selfishly, I had the opportunity to take her to go see a Disney movie I’m in, and play a character like this. There were a lot of elements that fell in place that made it very, very comfortable for me to make that.
Tim Nasson: Did you take anything from your wrestling experience for this?
“The Rock”: – I’m just naturally like that. I’m just very naturally arrogant, basically. Hahaha!
Tim Nasson: Talk about your, and your character’s, Elvis obsession…
“The Rock”: – I love Elvis. The moment I sat down with Andy, (the film’s director),
I said, “Andy, do you love Elvis?” He said, “Absolutely!” And, we went for it. It was another fun way of adding a layer to the character that might be interesting. Again, self-deprecating comedy is great. I love the fact that he was singing to her, in a very sweet and tender moment, and she says, “I think you sound like a wounded moose.” I love that type of comedy, and how the joke falls back on me. For an actor to sing in a movie, and play the guitar, it’s really not funny. You’re like, “Oh, he can sing and play guitar.” But, the joke makes it funny, when it falls back on him.
Tim Nasson: Do you have a favorite Elvis song?
“The Rock”: – “Are You Lonesome Tonight” is my favorite.
Tim Nasson: What did you take from your experiences with your own daughter that you brought to this?
“The Rock”: – I’m very, very lucky to understand what that blessing is, to be a parent. And, not only be a parent, but there’s a very, very unique bond between a daddy and his little girl, and I recognize that now. Every day, I recognize it and live it and embrace it. That bonding process, and understanding that, made it very easy for me. I could easily take scenes from that movie and translate them right into my own real life, and from life into the movie as well. It’s because of those experiences that I’d had that allowed me to easily bond with Madison. And, not only that, but easily appreciate Madison, appreciate her silliness, appreciate her crankiness when she gets tired, appreciate everything like that. Six years ago, before my little girl was born, if Andy had approached me about doing the movie, I still would have loved to have done the movie, and I think it would have been just as funny, but I don’t think, however, that the emotion would have been there. I think that type of emotion, especially when it comes to kids, you have to have a kid, if you’re going to act it that well, emotionally.
Tim Nasson: Your character’s apartment is so clean, and then this kid comes in and messes everything up…
“The Rock”: – That’s the way life is. It’s the exact same way. I could clean my place and have it completely clean and spot free, and then, as soon as the little girl comes around, that’s it. There’s toys everywhere and everything is left open. That’s what happens.
Tim Nasson: How patient are you?
“The Rock”: – I’m pretty patient. You have to be. The thing that I love struggling with is the fact that it’s a dictatorship in my house, and there’s no democracy. As adults, we can control a lot of things. But, with little kids – she’s 6 – democracy is out the window. That’s the way it is. To see her actually strategize, and I see it happening in her mind, I turn to mush.
Tim Nasson: Did you have any input into the football scenes?
“The Rock”: – I was very lucky. I had a chance to play ten years of football with some great players. And, we had a great football coordinator to help and to make sure that the football was very real, and looked very real. Also, to Andy’s credit, because he comes from the world of theater, he wanted to show football a tremendous amount of respect. More importantly than that, he wanted to make sure that he showed ballet a tremendous amount of respect too, and to make sure that you saw the parallels of the difficulty of both sports, and how both of them are equally difficult.
Tim Nasson: How challenging was it to learn ballet?
“The Rock”: – It was very, very challenging. I, like a lot of my guy friends, kind of dismissed ballet, for years. We were there with the Boston Ballet, and I was blown away by the incredible amount of discipline that those little girls, and little boys, had, along with the hard work and dedication. There was this amazing respectful silence when we were done. We would rehearse every day for two weeks. We essentially had a ballet boot camp for a couple of hours a day and, at the end – six or seven o’clock, they had already gone through school, and then they stayed with me and Madison the whole time – there was this respectful silence that would permeate the air, and then, they would all come and individually thank us for our time. I love seeing that in our children today. I love seeing that type of discipline, honor and respect.
Tim Nasson: Do you draw on your physicality as a football player and a wrestler when you’re doing ballet?
“The Rock”: – I learned to, absolutely. The incredible amount of body control that it takes to be a ballet dancer was mindboggling to me. I never knew. I just didn’t know. So, I was very happy that I was exposed to that. And, it also reminded me just how for some of the greatest athletes in the world, ballet is part of their training regimen. For some of the greatest football players in the world, in skilled positions – wide receivers and running backs – ballet is part of their training regimen.
Tim Nasson: Talk about your current fitness regime…
“The Rock”: – I train every day. I have to. I do a different variety of training, whether it’s outside or inside. I have to get away and, for me, that hour and a half is a way to get away, and it’s like a little sanctuary for me, too. Specifically, I do plyometric work, which is some box jumps and sprints and quickness and agility drills, things like that. From that, I do cardio and weight work. With women, it’s more a lifestyle and a mental change. Specifically with women – and I’m surrounded by women, from my mom to just everybody – women have that great tendency to put themselves last, and to put working out last. They’ll say, “I’ve got so many other things to do.” It’s so true. You’ve got to change your mindset and think, “I’ve got to do this first.” Make it fun, get a trainer, get a partner, get an iPod, do fun things. That’s my suggestion. I suggested the same thing to Andy, too.
Next up for “The Rock” – another Disney movie, Race to Witch Mountain. Yes, it is a sequel to the 70s Witch Mountain movies. Stay tuned for more about Race to Witch Mountain.