“Does anyone hate Dwayne Johnson? Is that possible?” How ‘The Rock’ has conquered the world | Culture | ICON

Year 2032. The former wrestler and actor Dwayne Johnson, known by the nickname of The Rock, leads the race to the presidency of the United States. Critical voices accuse him of being part of the elite and living outside the problems of the average American. In order to silence them, Johnson gives a series of interviews to expose to the public his humble origins and how the concerns of the popular classes are not alien to him. It is the premise of Young Rock (Young Rock), a biographical comedy released this year by the NBC network (at the moment, no broadcast plans in Spain), where the star (California, 49 years old) jokes about the rumors that have been pointing to his candidacy for the White House for years.

But not much either, because, at the same time, he insists that he will attend if the people want. According to a survey published last April and carried out on a sample of 30,000 people, 46% of the American population would vote for The Rock: on a base of 329 million inhabitants with the right to register in the census, it would double the record of the president most voted in history, Joe Biden. Not coincidentally, he is the only candidate Dwayne Johnson has asked to vote for in his entire career.

For now, in 2021, his popular pull is in top form. Family adventure Jungle Cruise, the latest film starring the interpreter of Samoan descent, has raised 90 million dollars (almost 76 million euros) in its opening weekend, between accumulated at the world box office and paid viewings on the Disney + platform. It is the second best Disney premiere of the year, just below Black widow, and above Cruella O Raya and the last dragon. It is also another proof of Johnson’s great versatility in front of all audiences: this same year he plans to premiere on Netflix the thriller of action Red alert, he just finished shooting his first foray into the superhero universe, Black Adam, in the DC lineup, and before the pandemic he had time to appear in the video for Taylor Swift’s song The Man, an artist for whom the six-foot-tall ex-wrestler has repeatedly shown genuine devotion.

Uli Latukefu plays Dwayne Johnson on the series ‘Young Rock’.NBC / NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Twenty years after his first film appearance, with a small role in The Mummy Returns (2001), The Rock, who rose to popularity by snapping chairs on the backs of his opponents or flinging them out of the ring during WWE matches, has surprisingly become a surefire asset for Disney productions ―before Jungle Cruise, starred in the comedy Dad by surprise (2007), led the version of The haunted Mountain (2009) and put his voice and his singing skills at the service of the god Maui in Vaiana (2016) – and a personality, without ironies, presidential.

He is the American with the most followers on Instagram, where, on an almost daily basis, he shares motivational photos and videos to encourage people to make an effort, work and sculpt their body. He was the first person in the world to echo the execution of Osama Bin Laden, even before then-President Barack Obama (he had a cousin marine that he reported live). His films have grossed a total of $ 5 billion (in euros, 4.2 billion) and he is estimated to have a net worth of 400 million (in euros, 337 million).

Steven Gaydos, Executive Editor of Variety And a seasoned Hollywood star watcher, he called him the direct heir to another action hero with an interest in family movies and political management, actor and former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger: “Dwayne Johnson astutely understood that staying typecast as the Big guy knocking people out and running through burning buildings wasn’t the way to build a career. And his gifts for comedy, like Arnold’s, are tremendous. ” The journalist from The Guardian Steve Rose, in turn, wondered: “Does anyone hate Dwayne Johnson? Is that possible? One suspects that if there was a person on the planet capable of expressing mild dislike for him, Johnson would come to his house and cook him some pancakes, or simply send him gifs raising his world famous right eyebrow until he succumbed. “

Powerful and charming

One peculiarity that drew the attention of British critic Peter Bradshaw about Dwayne Johnson is that, while Schwarzenegger had the Terminator or Stallone Rocky, the actor’s popularity does not seem to be founded on an iconic character, but on himself. “As Arnie [Schwarzenegger], he’s personable and self-aware enough to play comedy and family movies, but unlike him, he doesn’t do it ironically. With his open face, big eyes, and unpretentious, non-aggressive personality, Johnson can pull off those performances, ”he reflected.

Brendan Fraser, John Woo and a young Dwayne Johnson in 2001. 'The Mummy' was one of his first big hits.
Brendan Fraser, John Woo and a young Dwayne Johnson in 2001. ‘The Mummy’ was one of his first big hits.Jeff Kravitz / FilmMagic, Inc

Credible, good-natured and friendly in Jungle Cruise as improbable anabolic version of Humphrey Bogart in The queen of africa, The Rock has been able to combine its successes in the films of Fast & Furious (which was added in the determining fifth episode, a before and after for the saga at a commercial and critical level) with the reactivation of the franchise Jumanji, whose two installments have garnered figures close to a Marvel success. That variety of records seems, in a way, an extension of his public image, which makes him able to alternate candid gestures such as supporting an initiative against sexual harassment called “Treat women as you would treat Dwayne Johnson” with other incendiaries Publications such as the one he dedicated to Vin Diesel questioning his professionalism, the origin of a long soap opera between the two muscular idols. “My classmates are incredible and I love them. Instead, my companions are a different story. Some are true professionals, but others are not, “wrote La Roca on his Instagram account at the end of filming the eighth installment of Fast & Furious.

“I’ve only spent a couple of hours with him and I already feel like I’m Dwayne Johnson’s best friend in the whole world,” journalist Caity Weaver wrote sarcastically, dazed by the star’s sympathy, in the profile she dedicated to him in GQ. “When he meets you, the first thing he does is ask you 600 questions about you and remember the answers forever. What is my favorite Christmas carol? It is something that I have had to consider after Dwayne Johnson consulted me 10 months before Christmas. If you’re a kid, you won’t be able to walk past him without a high-five. If you are in a wheelchair, be prepared to hear an epic poem in the style of Beowulf about your bravery ”.

Working the trick

a leitmotiv of autobiographical fiction Young Rock is the concept that Rocky Johnson, Dwayne’s father and also a professional wrestler, instills in his son: “Work the trick” (in English, working the gimmick). It has to do with outlining the numbers and improving the spectacularity of the performances in wrestling, but for both it ends up being, also, a philosophy of life. Frequently, it consists of throwing a big bluff to, in the moment of truth and with the time available, make it real, beat all your reasonable possibilities or, at least, put together a drill so sophisticated and elaborate that it sneaks.

Dwayne Johnson, with his wife Lauren Hashian and daughter Jasmine Johnson, discover their star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on December 13, 2017.
Dwayne Johnson, with his wife Lauren Hashian and daughter Jasmine Johnson, discover their star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on December 13, 2017.Axelle/Bauer-Griffin / FilmMagic

If the story of Dwayne Johnson is inspiring even for the most cynical, it is because of the constant defiance of expectations that his figure embodies: this man with the appearance of being able to hold a car with his bare hands has faced three depressions, he has lived through poverty. , has been doomed to juvenile delinquency. But he is also the first to dismantle meritocratic myths when he talks about his experience in American football, where he failed to succeed despite a strong work ethic and giving it his all. “Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. In fact, asking for help is our superpower, and men, especially us, fall into the trap of rejecting vulnerability, because we always want to feel that we are strong and that we can take over the world ”, he declared in a recent interview for People, the magazine that this year has named him the number one reason to love America, above vaccines against the coronavirus, the holiday of July 4 or NASA’s Perseverance robot.

With 94% approval from the public, Jungle Cruise It is the best entry that Dwayne Johnson has made in the Rotten Tomatoes aggregator throughout his career, as he celebrated this week on Instagram. The good understanding with the Catalan filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra during filming led The Rock to sign him to direct Black Adam, which will premiere in 2022. And that relationship promises to be extended in at least one more installment, since the plans for a sequel to Jungle Cruise they are already on the table.

In The Rock’s first pure action movie, Stepping strong (2004), the actor played a exmarine that he returned to his hometown and found the old sawmill closed: now, the main source of income for the municipality was a casino. After discovering that in the establishment, players were cheated with fake dice and drugs were sold to minors, and in the face of the inaction of the authorities, the protagonist took a stick, smashed the tables and gave the beating of his life to every human being related in no way with the business. Not satisfied with it, he ran for sheriff’s election to close it permanently. In the film, it is so obvious that everyone is going to vote for Dwayne Johnson in those elections that not even footage is spent showing the process: he simply announces his intentions, there is an ellipsis and he is already taking office. Stepping strong it is, of course, fiction. But in the context of a career where the sky is the limit, and with an enormous affection and influence among the public, perhaps it is necessary to consider if it will not be, perhaps, the statement of the greatest trick that has ever worked.

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“Does anyone hate Dwayne Johnson? Is that possible?” How ‘The Rock’ has conquered the world | Culture | ICON