We’ve always considered Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson to be wise. The kind of man who’d listen carefully as you reeled off your troubles over a glass of Scotch – or Tequila, more likely—before sharing a life-affirming tale from his bank of memories and sending you on your way a better person. And, as a new interview reveals, we were bang on the money.
In a new video posted to YouTube, a Vanity Fair reporter puts a series of increasingly personal questions to DJ. Starting with lighthearted queries like ‘What are you obsessed with right now?’; ‘Are there any habits you’re trying to break?’; and ‘What is The Rock afraid of?’; the interviewer goes on to ask: ‘What does it mean to be a man?’.
And as the camera edges closer to his face over the course of the next minute or so, DJ imparts his words of wisdom against a backdrop of gently-tinkling piano music, and surrounded by little other than a strategically-placed energy drink.
“I think what it means to be a man is to be accountable, is to be accountable and stand up to the mistakes you’ve made,” he says. “It’s okay to f*** up, it happens to all of us. And be open, rip yourself open, be vulnerable. I’ve all – I’ve been there, we’ve all been there.
“You know, the benefit of doing something like that, is on the other side of that, usually is some sort of progress, and how important that is,” Johnson continues. “It’s also, in my opinion, a quality of being a man is doing what you say you’re gonna do. And taking matters into your own hands sometimes.
“But if you look somebody in the eye, you shake their hand, you give them a hug, or you give them your word, it’s important to do it, or do your best to see it through.”
After his heartfelt response – and with the camera closing ever-further in on DJ’s face – the interviewer asks: ‘When in your life did you feel least comfortable in your own skin?’. As a shredded pro wrestler-turned-world’s highest-paid actor, you’d be forgiven for assuming the ‘hardest worker in the room’ was immune to self-deprecating thoughts. Not so.
“I felt least comfortable in my own skin on two occasions,” Johnson says. “When I first started as a professional wrestler, I was told back then that you can’t smile enough, you’ve got to be happy every time you go out there, you have to be so joyous at the opportunity that you have. I wasn’t reacting authentically and I was being a very buttoned-down, saccharine version of who I actually was at that time in the world of professional wrestling.
The other time it happened? When he first made the transition to Hollywood stardom, DJ says. A few years into his movie career – “approximately the mid-2000s”– he was told to lose weight, change his eating habits, ditch the gym, quit referencing the name ‘The Rock’ and make efforts to gloss over his pro-wrestling background.
“Well, you buy into that shit, as I did, until – one of two things was going to happen,” says Johnson. “You’re either going to continue to go down that road and that path, and you’re going to be miserable. And eventually your career is probably going to fizzle out and it’s not going to have any sense of longevity or quality to it.
“Or, the other thing that’s going to happen, you’re going to say ‘fuck this shit, I’m gonna be me, and we’re going to see what happens’. And I think in that authenticity moment, that moment of clarity, a funny thing happened in the world of professional wrestling and a funny thing happened in the world of Hollywood, both industries conformed to my authenticity and allowed me to be me. And that’s when things changed.”
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