Dwayne Johnson, aka the rock, is a former college footballer and professional wrestler turned actor/action hero, dad and all-round legend. Bestfit follows his journey to Hollywood’s top table via the wrestling ring.
For a man whom many people assumed would never become more than a bit-player in the movies, Dwayne Johnson has upset all expectations and emerged as one of Hollywood’s biggest film stars.
In 2013, American business magazine Forbes rated Johnson as the top-grossing actor of the year and placed him in the top 25 for most powerful celebrities in the world.
More recently, in 2015, he starred in Furious 7 , the latest of the Fast and Furious franchise, which proved a worldwide hit (with the eighth instalment to follow in 2016). He was also the lead actor in San Andreas , a summer blockbuster film in which he played Ray, a helicopter rescue pilot trying to reach his daughter in San Francisco in the wake of a major earthquake that strikes California and levels Los Angeles in the process, which made over $470million worldwide.
It was the kind of custom-made hero role that Johnson thrives on and whose engaging personality and massive physique have positioned him as one of the film industry’s top action stars. He has been lauded for recent roles in titles such as Pain & Gain and Hercules , and he’s inherited the kind of roles that used to be reserved for Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Johnson’s success is not just confined to the silver screen; he is currently starring and producing in the second series of Ballers , an HBO comedy about American football. Furthermore, he has a knack for humour that enables him to play many variations on his tough guy persona while his incredibly toned body leaves no doubt that he can get the job done.
In person, the 42-year-old former wrestling legend is a highly articulate and sensitive soul, as BESTFIT were lucky enough to find out…
Bestfit: having starred in Furious 7 and San Andreas , and with Central Intelligence lined up for 2016, you’ve established yourself as one of the top action stars. Was that always your goal?
DJ: I’ve always been very ambitious and I’ve always had a lot of self-belief. But it took me a lot of soulsearching and going through a lot of personal pain and turmoil to get to the point where I was ready to move forward and make something of my life.
I’ve had to face a lot of challenges. I remember what it was like to see my family get through out of our house and onto the street. I remember how devastated I was when my football career was over and which had been my dream. I still remember crying by myself on my sofa and feeling that my life was finished. It was hard, really hard. One day my father gave me a ride from Miami to Tampa and I reached into my pocket and I found $7 [he now has a film and TV business called Seven Bucks]. That was it. That was all I had in the world. Those memories are burned into you forever.
Bestfit: What turned it around for you?
DJ: Fortunately, I had some great friends and I was able to get back on my feet and stop feeling sorry for myself. I saw that the one thing I could control in my life was my body and I trained as hard as anyone could imagine when I got into wrestling [firstly with WWE, then WWF].
I saw that I could also create a persona (as a villain in wrestling) that audiences would react to and that I had a gift for showmanship.
Wrestling was my way of rebuilding my life and it gave me the kind of confidence that would lead to acting and everything else.
Bestfit: You look as good and as big as ever. Obviously body building is still a very important part of your world?
DJ: I’m still a body builder at heart. I am totally committed to doing the kind of training and daily discipline needed for me to maintain my physique. I’ve always trained hard, whether it was as a football player or as a wrestler, but body building is very special to me. I’ve always enjoyed the feeling that comes from going to the gym and spending several hours a day training and transforming my body to what I want it to look like. It’s the one thing in my life that I’ve always felt I could control even when I felt lost. Body building has given me a set of goals and a feeling of confidence in my abilities, and I use that kind of mental discipline to push me forward in everything I accomplish in life. If you have belief and motivation, and you work hard, nothing can stop you.
Bestfit: Did you have a grand masterplan to make your mark on the world?
DJ: Yes. I wanted to build my own little empire. I knew that I could entertain people and that I could connect with audiences. I worked very hard to become an actor and find films where I could reach people on an emotional level. I’m a very emotional guy and I had a lot of problems earlier in my life when I tried to hide that. But after going through a divorce I knew that I had to become a more open and vulnerable man and that kind of thing has also not only made me a much better man, but a much better actor.
When you’re not afraid of your feelings and worries and being able to express yourself to the people you love it just transforms you in so many great ways. You begin to enjoy your own spirit and everything about yourself that allows you to connect with the people you love just as I think audiences are able to sense something about me, and that I can be just as vulnerable as I can be tough.
Bestfit: You do a lot of your own stunts. Is that important to you?
DJ: It’s important for me to do as much of that kind of work myself, to create something cool for the audience because they are savvy. If there are ways where we don’t have to cut around me repelling out of a helo (helicopter) at 300 feet down a cliff then great, let’s give it a shot. I usually have a great stunt team who I trust. I actually did one stunt for San Andreas on my birthday (last year), which was great. It was like this cool shot out of the helicopter all the way down. It was a great birthday present.
Bestfit: You are also very proud of your Polynesian heritage. You also have a noble title, don’t you?
Yes. I’m a High Chief, in Samoa. That’s the highest title you can have bestowed on you by the king. It was a very big day for me, the most meaningful moment in my life second to the birth of my daughter.
50,000 people were gathered for the ceremony, which was very long and very spiritual. It was an amazing day and experience for me.
Bestfit: You have some tattoos, which relate to that heritage as well?
DJ: Tattoos are very meaningful in Polynesian culture. Tattooing is a rite of passage. It’s spiritual. It tells a story. Symbolically these are stories that have been around for thousands of years. They tell a story of one’s life. And my tattoos tell the story of who I am and my journey in life.
“wrestling was my way of rebuilding my life and giving me the kind of confidence that would lead to acting and everything else.”
Dwayne Johnson’s Workout Tips
Here, we reveal the habits that give actor and ex-wwe superstar Johnson a body for Hollywood
Johnson breaks his workout down, focusing on a different body part each day. Sticking to a conventional pattern of six days on, one day off, Johnson maintains that you should train your biceps and triceps the same way, work on your calves three times a week, and stick to three sets per exercise rather than the traditional four.
Warming up, he prefers to take a ten-minute jog followed by internal and external rotation exercises with 5 lb dumb-bells and once he’s stuck in, Johnson likes working on big muscle groups once a week and smaller groups – such as biceps, triceps and calves – twice a week. In terms of diet, ‘The Rock’ relies on filet, halibut and chicken served with a mixture of white rice or baked potato and broccoli or asparagus. However, he stresses the importance of having a ‘cheat day’, or one day where you don’t have to follow your diet.
Johnson likes to indulge in his girlfriend’s brownies: “she’ll make this brownie mix where she puts one layer down and then puts a layer of peanut butter in the middle and then put another layer of brownie mix on top of that. I’ve never tasted anything better.”
“work on your calves three times a week, and stick to three sets per exercise rather than the traditional four”