Actor. Wrestler. Producer. Ex-American football player. Big biceps. Large chest. Once, Dead broke. Now, mega draw. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was the highest-paid actor in the world in 2016. Time magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world, too. He has so many upcoming films lined up it feels like he's personally trying to end the global unemployment crisis. And, oh, he re-directs a speeding torpedo with his bare hand in Fast & Furious 8, saves his family from a tall, burning building in Skyscraper, and shows off his man-sized nipples as a lifeguard in Baywatch. Here are 11 more reasons why The Rock is simply and literally the biggest movie star in the world.
He's Truly Huge in the Total-Eclipse-Of-The-Sun Sense
Size absolutely matters. Look at Johnson. He stands at an imposing 1.96m tall and his biceps bulge like mini boulders. The Rock really seems bigger than most people, and even most things. That's why in the Fast & Furious movies, he drives the largest smasheroo vehicles. He played Hercules in 2014, and we know that no one other than a tree trunk could play that muscle-bound demigod, right? Plus, in G.I. Joe: Retaliation, he plays a character named Roadblock. Now, does that name even sound like somebody tiny? Case closed.
He's a Massive Wrestling Icon
Before he became a mega movie star, Johnson was a mega wrestling star. So mega he was one of the most charismatic headliners in World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) which still proudly touts him as their own big name despite The Rock's now sporadic appearances promoting either major wrestling events or one of his own flicks. Hailing from a wrestling family – his dad and granddad were famous wrestlers – Johnson was a top draw from 1996 to 2004 in the WWE's exciting Attitude Era, alternating between crowd-favourite “face” (good guy) and arrogant “heel” (bad guy). He won the coveted championship belt and other assorted titles so many times it feels as though he was collecting stamps.
He Just Loves to Yak and Yak and Yak
Johnson has two super weapons – his huge bod and his fast mouth. His giant physique gave him sensational labels in wrestling, such as the “People's Champion”, “Brahma Bull”, “The Great One”, and the very humble “The Most Electrifying Man In Sports Entertainment”. His non-stop mouth has spouted the funniest catch phrases and insults, like “If you smell what The Rock is cooking” and “Just bring it”. In Fast & Furious 8, his Agent Luke Hobbs threatens to knock rogue assassin Deckard Shaw's (Jason Statham) teeth so far down his throat that he’d have to “stick a toothbrush right up your a** to brush them”. It's a rectal prospect so ludicrous and hilarious that it even made Statham burst out laughing in the film.
He Was Once the Tooth Fairy
One of the assets that has made Johnson so likeable and popular as a movie star is that he isn't afraid to poke fun at himself at every opportunity. He played a comical gay bodyguard in Be Cool, got publicly embarrassed as a naked super-fat guy in Central Intelligence, and leapt stupidly to his death off a building like a dumb jock in the cop comedy, The Other Guys. In 2010, he even sprouted cheesy angel wings as the, ahem, Tooth Fairy. A lot of his comic timing was honed while feeling the audience in a packed stadium and improvising as a wrestler in the ring. He said, “Every night I would just have a blueprint of what I would say and rely so much on ad-libbing and waiting to see what happens when I get out there and let it materialise organically and see what happens.”
He Doesn't Mind Being a Cartoon
This dude is so game for anything that he even hams it up without hesitation as a cartoon figure. Besides 2009's sci-fi cartoon Planet 51, The Rock really amped it up as a demigod-hero-jerk in Disney's 2016 Polynesian toon, Moana. “Amped” is an apt word because he even sings in the show. The entertaining animated flick grossed, oh, just a mere US$642.4 million worldwide.
He Saves Movie Franchises
By just showing up in the background, next to a dustbin say, or maybe, even in the toilet, Johnson is said to be able to save flagging action movie franchises. The Fast and the Furious flicks really took off in a big way when he came on-board after fans clamoured online for The Rock to take on The Dome (aka Vin Diesel, F&F's original star) in the Ultimate Battle of the Baldies. Johnson's Agent Luke Hobbs became part of the furniture in F&F 5, 6, 7 and 8, which have collectively grossed over a whopping US$4 billion. Similarly, interest in the G.I. Joe action series was revived partly by Johnson's appearance as Roadblock, the new military team leader. However, although the sequel was a big hit, there's been no word yet about a third instalment.
He Just Announced He's Running to Be the President of the United States (Sort Of)
"Starting tonight, I am running for the president of the United States. When it comes to politics, we need more poise and less noise” declared Johnson recently on the US comedy show, Saturday Night Live. Hey, why not when a reality TV celeb, Donald Trump, is now the actual American president? A former actor, Ronald Reagan, was also once president; he-man star Arnold Schwarzenegger was the governor of California; and an ex-wrestler, Jesse “The Body” Ventura, was the governor of Minnesota. Actor-celebrity-wrestler-entertainer? Johnson ticks “yes” on all four categories. Besides, doesn't this aircraft carrier – “USS The Rock” – sound so scary that any war would be over before this ship even moved a single inch?
He Actually Looks Like a Superhero
Forget about all those scrawny people pretending to be superheroes after 10 minutes on the treadmill. This fella is the real thing, dudes. He's so massive, cut and toned he makes the Hulk look like the Pulp. He's perfect as the “after drinking” version of a guy resulting from a strength-inducing superhero serum like Captain America's. Already on the way is his role as Black Adam, the super-powered enemy of Shazam in DC's upcoming 2019 blockbuster, Shazam!
He's Big on TV Too
Alongside his big screen hyper-profile, The Rock looms over The Tube – aka television – too. The dude currently stars in Ballers, a comedy-drama series about a group of American football players. He also hosted 2013's The Hero and 2014's Wake Up Call, both reality TV shows which were co-produced by Johnson's own production company, Seven Bucks Productions. The name refers to the seven dollars he claimed were in his pocket when he was down to his lowest flat-broke point in 1995 before he hit the big time.
He's Even Bigger on Social Media
At last count, Johnson reportedly had 82 million Instagram followers, 54.6 million Facebook groupies, and 11 million Twitter fans. He is so big on the Internet that he could surely singlehandedly clobber a worldwide virus. The Rock understands that the key word in social media is the word “social”. So he tells his friends everything (or almost everything) about what he's doing while he's making a movie. Including, of course, what he's eating for breakfast right now. This ability to keep the buzz on at all times is thought to be what turned his 2015 earthquake movie, San Andreas, from a standard disaster flick into a surprise blockbuster earning US$474 million.
He's his own United Nations
Johnson is half African-American and half Samoan. But like the Fast & Furious cast, his reassuring, take-charge appearance, funny persona, easy-going charisma and personal story are so interesting and happening that he appeals to all kinds of people everywhere. In a nutshell, everybody loves The Rock the same way everybody loves, say, “Wolverine” Hugh Jackman, who, like Johnson, just seems like a genuine nice guy. So, the battle is won before the movie even starts as the audience are already on his side. In his recent Saturday Night Live appearance, Johnson described his cross-cultural appeal as “Everyone just assumes I'm, well, whatever they are”.