The Rock Biography

PHOTO: The Rock

Dwayne Douglas Johnson’s father is former professional wrestler 'Soulman' Rocky Johnson. His maternal grandfather was also a wrestler and Johnson would find himself traveling a lot during childhood, moving from Florida to Tennessee to Georgia and then Hawaii to watch his father perform in the ring.

The family eventually settled in Pennsylvania and Johnson excelled in sport at school, ranking as one the state's top ten high school football players.

Earning a scholarship to the University of Miami to study criminology, Johnson played in the football team and in 1991 was part of the Miami Hurricanes' National Championship team. An injury forced him to retire early though and despite initially enjoying the party life when he arrived, he met his future wife Dany Garcia - also attending the university. The two were married in 1997.

After graduating in 1995, Johnson was drafted by the Canadian Football League and moved to Calgary. Disenchanted by the prospect of making football a lifelong career option though, he left professional sport soon after and returned to Miami.

It was perhaps inevitable that the grandson and son of professional wrestlers would eventually follow suit. In 1996, Johnson made his debut as 'Flex Kavana' on the minor wrestling circuit. Moving then to the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), he traded on his father's heritage and changed his stage name to Rocky Maivia (combining both his father's and grandather's ring names) but made the mistake of trying to retain a nice guy image. Realising this was never going to establish him as a top pro wrestler, Johnson dropped the nice act and re-invented himself as ‘The Rock’ in 1997. The brash bad boy persona did the trick and audiences responded quickly.

Johnson was pushed heavily from the start, despite his lack of in-ring experience, but won the Intercontinental Championship from Hunter Hearst Helmsley in February 1997, after only three months in the company. He soon became known as one of the most electrifying man in sports entertainment as The Rock. But it was more than his ability to 'layeth the smacketh down' in the wrestling ring that made Johnson an international superstar. His quick wit, charisma and ability to talk up the crowds earned him legions of loyal fans.

In July 2002, Johnson had won his record-breaking seventh and final WWE (replacing WWF) Championship, which was then under the banner of WWE Undisputed Championship. However, when Mick Foley suffered injury and humiliation at the hands of Evolution in 2004, Johnson returned to wrestling to reform the Rock 'n' Sock Connection, and the two competed as a team at WrestleMania XX in a losing effort. That was the last time Johnson, known as 'the People's Champion', competed in a WWE ring.

Although Johnson is no longer active with WWE, the company still sells The Rock merchandise, and he continues to be featured prominently in the opening montages of their television programming.

In 1999, Johnson made the move from wrestling into acting when he was cast as his own father in an episode of the hit sitcom 'That '70s Show'. However, it was Johnson's appearance on 'Saturday Night Live' in 2000 that truly made Hollywood take notice. He showed viewers he was more than just a muscle man by willingly dressing in drag, singing in sketches and showing off his comedic abilities. Despite other past wrestlers such as Hulk Hogan having paved the way for such acting transition, it seemed Johnson actually had the talent to succeed.

Having fielded a variety of offers, Johnson made his feature acting debut as the Scorpion King in the 2001 sequel 'The Mummy Returns'. Although his screen presence wasn't immense, Johnson displayed a strong potential to take his acting career further, so much so that the studio offered him his first lead role in 'The Scorpion King' (2002) - a spin-off from the his character in The Mummy Returns. Laughing all the way to the bank, Johnson reportedly banked a $5.5 million dollar pay cheque.

Johnson was now poised to step into the void of action hero characters left open by aging stars like Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Following his Scorpion King outing, critics and audiences were pleasantly surprised by Johnson's witty and charming turn in the crowd-pleasing action-comedy 'The Rundown' (2003). The success of the film, paired with the fact he was still pulling in big screen roles three years after his acting adventure began, finally established him as a fully-fledged movie star.

In 2005, Dwayne played the part of a gay bodyguard in the John Travolta comedy, 'Be Cool'. The actor said in an interview with magazine Out that he would encourage gay actors to come out of the closet.

He said: "I know a lot of gay actors in Hollywood who don't want to come out, and whatever the reasons are I respect that. But I think if people love you now, and if you came out, they would love you more, and if they didn't, then they weren't real people to begin with."

In June 2007, Johnson and his wife announced that they would be splitting up after ten years of marriage.

Dwayne's latest film role was rumoured to be the part of Captain Marvel's nemesis, Black Adam. However, in an interview with MTV, The Rock hinted that the film may not happen at all. He said: "I haven't let ['Captain Marvel'] go. I love that idea. I've always loved the idea of playing Black Adam. In Hollywood, a lot of times when something is in development, it just takes a lot of time. So it's in development hell right now. Who knows what's going to happen with that. Maybe [it will happen], maybe not."

He also admitted that the shelved video game film, 'Doom', which he was set to appear in, didn't happen as it did not work out "creatively".

Outside of acting, one of Dwayne Johnson's proudest moments came in 2008 when the star presented the Oscar for Best Visual effects at the 80th Academy Awards show.

Later that year he played a supporting role in the Steve Carell led comedy 'Get Smart' opposite Anne Hathaway and Alan Arkin.

Starring roles in child orientated films like 'Race to Witch Mountain' and the 'Tooth Fairy' following over the next two years before Johnson returned to the limelight with 'Fast Five' in 2011.

The fifth film in the 'Fast and The Furious' franchise, it saw the star feature opposite Vin Diesel with the film proving a huge success at the box office.

After enjoying the biggest opening weekend of any Fast and Furious film, garnering over $86 million, Dwayne Johnson is reportedly being lined up for a return to the franchise.

For now though, Johnson is focusing on a role as Roadblock in the upcoming 'G.I Joe' sequel alongside Channing Tatum next year.

Wrestling fans can also look forward to the return of The Rock to the ring at the upcoming Wrestlemania event.

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