There are three certainties in life: death, taxes, and the awesomeness of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Sporting a proverbial Rotten Tomatoes score of 100 percent, Certified Fresh, The Rock embodies everything we want from our Hollywood superstars...and everything we admire in those who so boldly pursue the American dream. But how did it all happen? How did a loathed professional wrestler become the most famous person in the world? Was it just good timing? Years of trial and error? Countless hours in the gym? A winning smile? Or his total mastery of Instagram Stories?
Composed of five critical essays and fun extras, For Your Consideration: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson looks at the distinct phases of the legend’s career, examining the ways in which he has become both an on-screen heartthrob and an off-screen hero to the millions (AND MILLIONS!) who’ve followed him from the wrestling mat to the silver screen.
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
I love The Rock.
Hardly a hot take, right? Everybody loves The Rock. I don’t think my mom has ever seen one of his movies but my mom loves The Rock—which, to be fair, might be because he’s objectively a hunk for the ages. There are plenty of reasons to love him. He’s a compelling movie star, a once-in-a-lifetime fitness icon, and an endlessly likable guy offscreen.
The Rock’s career in Hollywood spans two decades, and he enjoyed a monumentally important stint as a pro wrestler that included reigns as the WWF/WWE, Intercontinental, and Tag Team Champion as well as multiple WrestleMania main events. He helped reinvigorate the fading Fast & Furious movie franchise, cofounded the juggernaut film studio Seven Bucks Productions, and took over the world of television with his smash HBO show Ballers. Alongside his wrestling archrival Stone Cold Steve Austin, he defined one of the most beloved eras of the sport’s history. The Rock has been a rare cultural constant for the past several years. We don’t have many real movie stars anymore, performers whose presence can guarantee a film’s success even if a franchise isn’t attached. And many film icons of the past have gone on to disappoint us either professionally (Ben Affleck) or in their personal lives (also Ben Affleck). Where others have faltered or stumbled, The Rock has always managed to succeed. His personal life is free of controversy and his filmography, though not free of bombs, has managed to thrive.
Between the extent of his fame and the length of his career, there’s a whole lot of ground to cover in this book. Ultimately, I want to answer a simple question: Why do we love Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson so much?
Because it matters, doesn’t it? Not everybody has what it takes to become a cultural icon, and when someone does, it says just as much about the fans as it does about the individual. The Rock’s life story is fascinating and he’s fun to watch in movies, but you could say the same of a litany of other actors. A great smile and easygoing charm aren’t enough to guarantee success. We, the fans, the general public, are the ones who elevate our icons. They cannot be bought or built. They have to prove themselves worthy of our adoration. Our motivations for giving our support to public figures and the reasons we feel compelled to do so are worth scrutinizing. What do these people mean to us? What does the fact that they mean something to us say about us?
Over the course of five essays (and some fun detours exploring some of the goofier corners of The Rock’s history, we’ll look at how The Rock has come to occupy the space he does in pop culture today. We’ll examine the ways he differentiates himself from other movie stars and how those choices influence our perception of him. Not all of it is going to be breezy—we’ll also explore inequality, poverty, and the fallacy of the American dream. Not what you expected from a book about a former pro wrestler and current action movie star, huh? That’s because The Rock isn’t just an ex-wrestler or a cut-and-dried action hero. He embodies the spirit of resilience, of refusing to let failure keep you from achieving your dreams. He’s living proof that hard work pays off and that, even if the deck is systemically stacked against you, there’s a way to rise above your circumstances.
Don’t get me wrong, though. This book is not going to be a Sociology 101 lecture. The Rock is, above all else, a fun performer. Hopefully some of that energy is captured here as we talk about legendary fistfights, his obsession with Elvis Presley, and the time he guest-starred as himself on Wizards of Waverly Place.
It’s important to understand beforehand that his body of work will be judged on a more complex metric than traditional “good vs. bad.” An equally important guid- ing principle is the Rock Movie Metric, or the difference between a Rock movie and a movie that The Rock is in.
Is Moana a better movie than, say, Skyscraper? Of course. Moana is a better movie in almost every conceivable way than the entirety of The Rock’s filmography. It’s beautifully animated, it’s got that signature Disney heart, and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson sings a song written by Lin-Manuel Miranda. Moana is perfect.
But Moana is not a Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson movie. It’s not just because The Rock isn’t the star or because it’s an animated film. No, Moana lacks the signature elements of a classic Rock movie.
This nebulous concept is difficult to define and we can’t pretend there aren’t exceptions. That said, a proper Rock movie must contain some, if not all, of the following elements:
• One (1) fistfight
• One (1) explosion
• Three (3) gratuitous shots of The Rock’s absolutely jacked-as-hell upper body
• One (1) scene in which The Rock fights something that until that moment we have never seen him fight (i.e., earthquake, giant wolf, Vin Diesel)
• One (1) feat of strength (i.e., leaping from a con- struction rig onto a skyscraper, flexing so hard the cast on his arm shatters)
• One (1) smolder
By this metric, Moana is not a Rock movie but Rampage is. Pain & Gain? Oddly enough, not a Rock movie. The Scorpion King? The original Rock movie. The Rock Movie Metric is less an indicator of quality and more an indicator of content and tone. This book will largely discuss and judge Rock movies, though movies that The Rock is in will not be ignored. Rest assured that yes, Moana is great, and no, its greatness is not being overlooked as we move toward our grand unified theory of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
A word on spoilers: there will be some. If you’re particularly precious about not finding out who has a surprise cameo at the end of Central Intelligence or how the fight between Dom and Hobbs in Fast Five ends, proceed with caution.