Here’s how the actor feels about his famous wrestling nickname.
He’s come a long way since his first big screen appearance as the Scorpion King in The Mummy Returns, back when he was a wrestler with an arched eyebrow and dreams of becoming an actor. Over the last 18 years, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has become a bona fide movie star, and one of the most bankable leading men in Hollywood. But one question remains: what the hell are we supposed to call him?
While on the press tour for his new film Jumanji: The Next Level, Johnson reflected on the early days of his career and how he felt the need to differentiate between his identities as a wrestler and as an actor — but that he has never been particularly precious about how he is referred to.
“When I finally realised that I wanted to have a real career in Hollywood and hopefully – fingers crossed – have an opportunity to have real longevity, I did feel that I wanted to be known as my name, Dwayne Johnson, and I also felt that it was just going to take time,” he told Digital Spy. “So I felt like I was not in a rush and I knew that it was going to take time and I didn’t want the transition to be disruptive in any way and come out and say for example, make a statement and say from this day forward, I will be known as Dwayne Johnson only, you can’t refer to me as The Rock, I never wanted to do that.”
He added that he has no desire to distance himself from the world of wrestling, which has long been a part of his family and which gave him his start. “I was very proud of The Rock and what I was able to accomplish in this wild and crazy world of professional wrestling,” he said. “And it’s a cool name, so I didn’t have a problem with it!”
“I realised, well there’s no rules and there’s no rules about if somebody wants to call me The Rock, they call me The Rock, or refer to me as that or Dwayne Johnson. I just wanted to make sure that I wasn’t going to buy into whatever the rules were at that time. And then if I failed, at least I failed knowing that I can sleep better at night that I did in a way that felt good for me.”
So, mystery solved. Call him what you like, as long as you don’t call him while he’s in the gym.
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Philip Ellis is a freelance writer and journalist from the United Kingdom covering pop culture, relationships and LGBTQ+ issues.