By Karu F. Daniels
NEW YORK, NY-- I will never forget when I first saw the image of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson making his feature film debut in “The Mummy Returns,” as a half human, half (computer-generated) scorpion.
He embodied what I envisioned to be a ‘human lobster.’
After the movie, I ran to Red Lobster to chow down.
When I revealed this tidbit to the World’s most popular wrestling star –come- next superstar action hero during a one-on-one interview at Beverly Hills’ posh Four Seasons hotel, he broke out into loud laughter.
I guess I wasn’t the only one feeling his presence during his eight-minute long acting stint, in the box-office hit.
The Rock is the star of , “The Scorpion King,” which recently opened nationwide via Universal Pictures.
Since making his mark on Vince McMahon’s family-friendly World Wrestling Federation (WWF) five years ago, The Rock has become a hot commodity -- and his very own franchise player. Spewing catch phrases, that are usually found on T-shirts, such as “Lay The Smack Down,” “Just Bring It,” “Jabroni” and “Can You Smell What The Rock Is Cooking?,” he’s known as the “People’s Champion.” He crept into Americana in the same fashion that uber-personalities Martha Stewart and Emeril (BAM!) LaGasse did; with a groundswell of cult-like loyal fans that will just about buy anything with their names attached to it.
This may be the proven formula that will take The Rock to the top of the box-office, joining the 20-million dollar club alongside Tom Hanks, Will Smith and Leonardo DiCaprio.
A record-setting, six-time champion of the professional wrestling league, The 6’5”, 280-pound tanned titan has penned a best-selling book (2000’s “The Rock Says…”), recorded chart-topping rap music (appeared on Wyclef Jean’s “The Ecleftic” ) and has become an entity of his own on the TV show circuit (with appearances on “Martha Stewart Living,” “Star Trek Voyager” and “Saturday Night Live” [not once, but twice].
Not your grandfather’s wrestler, The Rock has even graced the cover of Newsweek magazine, and TV Guide. Can someone say multimedia?
“I’m blessed,” he modestly says of his fame and fortune. “I’m extremely blessed, very lucky and at the end of the day, I just want to thoroughly entertain the fans.”
The Rock has come a long way since leaving home at the tender age of 18 to “tackle the world” and attend the University of Miami to study Criminology, while also pursuing a professional football career, alongside buddies such as Warren Sapp and Ray Lewis. An injury forced him to take the “low road” and after graduation he wound up in Canada playing football for $250 a week. “I was sleeping on a pissed-stained mattress, eating spaghetti everyday and living in an apartment with four other guys,” he says.
“In college, it was hard…[I thought], ‘All these guys are in the NFL and they’re making millions. And I worked for five years with these guys and its like, ‘Damn, I’m supposed to be there. I worked my butt off to get there and I’m not there.’ And it didn’t happen. And then I accepted that it didn’t happen, they’re better players but there’s got to be something better for me.’
Printed in Volume 1 Issue 7