Most people know Dwayne Johnson as “The Rock,” the name he goes by inside the WWE’s wrestling ring. In fact, it was just recently that The Rock returned to the ring. His return came just in time for “Wrestlemania,” also coinciding with the release of his new movie, “Walking Tall.” While recovering from “Wrestlemania,” The Rock made a stop in Philadelphia to talk about his new movie. “I had a blast,” Johnson said of the wrestling event that had occurred the night before our meeting. “[I love] any time I get a chance to go back and have fun and connect with the audience. Especially in New York City.”
Now that he is back in the ring, Johnson has the difficult task of juggling two careers again. However, Johnson has said that WWE owner, Vince McMahon, has helped make the juggling act much easier. “I love wrestling. It’s great because I will always have the opportunity. I have a great relationship with Vince McMahon who has said, ‘Listen, look at this as your toy chest and come back and have fun’.”
It was a small role in the film “The Mummy Returns” that kick-started his career in films, followed by the subsequent prequel, “The Scorpion King.”
“It’s funny. In film we hear about the acting bug. I thought it was a bunch of BS until ‘The Mummy Returns’. Even with that small role, I didn’t speak English; had like two minutes on-screen,” Johnson said of how he got into film.
Johnson said that the way people look at him now is different from the way people did when he first started out. “The perception a few years ago was The Rock is six ten, what are we going to do,” Johnson said of the reaction from some when he first tried to break into film.
“Walking Tall” is a remake of a film of the same name about a man who comes back from serving in the military only to find his hometown overrun by crime. Johnson is also a fan of the original, so much so that he went to MGM and expressed his interest into the film even before the script was written. The original film spawned two sequels, so Johnson was a little hesitant of his attempt. Giving a nervous laugh, he said, “We kind of set up for it. I don’t know. I had a blast with Johnny.”
One of the things that drew him to the character of Chris Vaughn was that he’s just a normal guy. “I’ve always been attracted to characters who were flawed or in jeopardy. You find your real reluctant heroes, like Clint Eastwood in “Unforgiven.”
His co-star in the film is “Jackass” star Johnny Knoxville. Johnson said that Knoxville kept him entertained during the shoot in Vancouver, especially on the first day of filming during a football game scene. “The best part was watching Johnny Knoxville, as wacky as he is and not a football player. We both had stunt doubles, but Johnny was like, no no no. The studio had a fit,” Johnson recalled with a laugh. “With Johnny, never a dull moment.”
Despite being co-stars, Johnson liked how he and Knoxville had a lot of different things to do separately in the film. “There wasn’t a lot of stuff that he and I actually did together, so it wasn’t like a Danny Glover and Mel Gibson movie.”
Up next, Johnson is doing a comedy with John Travolta. “I play a bodyguard trying to break into Hollywood, trying to convince John I have talent,” he says, explaining his role. “I can sing and I happen to be gay.”