Dwayne Johnson, once a goofy professional WWF wrestler known as the Rock, is now “the most successful movie star in the world”, says Chris Heath in Vanity Fair. For five years he has ranked as either the world’s best or second-best paid actor, banking an estimated $430m from franchises such as Fast & Furious. Driving his pickup truck around Hollywood, the 49-year-old loves pulling up next to busloads of tourists for a chat. Making people’s day “is one of the best parts of fame”, he says. Snooty celebrities “are missing out”.
His childhood was tough. His father, Rocky, was a wrestler too, and the family moved where work could be found. When Johnson was 14, they were evicted from their Hawaii home. A year later, in Nashville, he’d begun stealing cigarettes, clothes, radios. His mum, Ata, learnt that his dad was having an affair. She jumped out of the family car and walked into traffic – “big rigs swerving”. She survived, but her son vowed to buck up and protect her. He now has a family of his own: he and his wife, Lauren, have two daughters.
Johnson’s widespread popularity may one day take him to even greater heights: nearly half of Americans polled this year said they’d like him to be president. “I don’t think our Founding Fathers EVER envisioned a six-four, bald, tattooed, half-Black, half-Samoan, tequila drinking, pickup truck driving, fanny pack wearing guy joining their club – but if it ever happens it’d be my honour to serve you, the people,” he posted on Instagram. Fame has never been the goal, though. “The goal was just, I didn’t want to be broke.”