15 Facts About Dwayne Johnson You Need to Know
Dwayne Johnson. Source: Creative Commons
Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is one of the most recognizable and successful actors on the planet. On the outside, he is well-known for his huge muscles, charismatic character, and bright smile. But deep inside, there are some interesting facts about Dwayne Johnson that many of his fans are not aware of. Prior to his long stint in Hollywood, he was a pro wrestler nicknamed ‘The Rock’, a nickname he retains to date. He started his movie career in 2001 when he featured in ‘The Mummy Returns’. Since then, his life has taken an upward trajectory, having featured in over 40 movies. The 48-year-old American actor has both Canadian and Polynesian ancestry, which he proudly celebrates.
Here are some interesting facts about Dwayne Johnson that you need to know.
1. He once played professional football
During his years at Miami University, Dwayne played American football and even had high hopes of turning pro. A 6’5″ 290-pound defensive tackle, his former teammates claim he had a great sense of determination and desire to win, a character he is well-known for today. Although he was not drafted into the NFL, he played in the Canadian Football League for the Calgary Stampeders in 1995. (Bleacher Report)
2. He had a rough start to his wrestling career
When Dwayne Johnson made his debut in the WWE, he was remarkably different from his current personality. His baby faced ‘Rocky Maivia’ persona wasn’t that much of a hit with most fans. After a seemingly disastrous debut, he switched to a more masculine look, improved his relationship with fans, including on-screen chemistry with his competitors, and maximized on his natural charisma. His remarkable reinvention as ‘The Rock’, led to a wildly successful WWE career that laid the foundation for his eventual Hollywood career.
While at WWE, he was popular for his signature cockiness and catchphrase “Do you smell what the Rock is cooking?’’. His matchups against legends of the WWE, especially Steve ‘Stone Cold’ Austin, The Undertaker and Vince McMahon cemented his legacy in world wrestling. He is widely regarded as one of the most popular performers to date, and his cameo appearances continue to draw in thousands of viewers, decades after leaving the sport. (Essentially Sports)
3. He has wrestling genes flowing through his veins
Years before ‘The Rock’ set the WWE stage ablaze with his performances, his grandfather represented the family at the biggest wrestling stage. A cult hero in the Pacific, Dwayne’s grandfather Fanene Leifi Pita Maivia, stage name Peter Maivia, was a pro wrestler in the 70s. Avid fans of wrestling may have noticed that the character in ‘Moana’, played by Dwayne as Maui, bears remarkable resemblance to Dwayne’s grandfather and a certified wrestling legend. As part of his family’s wrestling royalty credentials, his grandmother, Ofelia “Lia” Maivia, was one of the first female wrestling promoters. Dwayne’s father Rocky Johnson was the first black man to be Georgia’s Heavyweight Champion, and it was only a matter of time before Dwayne became a sensation himself. He had the honor of inducting his grandfather into the WWE Hall Of Fame in 2008. (Mashable)
4. He was broke before his wrestling debut
Dwayne’s production company, Seven Bucks Productions, which has been responsible for Box Office successes such as ‘Jumanji’ and ‘Rampage’, is named after a particularly low moment of his life. When he left the Canadian Football League in 1995, he only had seven dollars in his possession after being abruptly omitted from the team.
After a devastating ‘not good enough’ verdict from his team, he moved in with his parents in Florida. Until his big break in the WWE, he got paid $40 to participate in underground wrestling clubs. With a current net worth over $200 million, he paid homage to that rough spell in his life when he co-founded his production company with his ex-wife in 2012. (Republic World)
5. He saved his mother’s life as a teen
While growing up, Dwayne’s parents moved a lot because of his father’s wrestling career. He also had a difficult childhood due to his parent’s marital issues. After a heated verbal exchange one day, Dwayne’s mother, Ata, who was reportedly stressed, alighted from the family car, and attempted to walk into oncoming traffic. Dwayne, 15 at the time, held his mother back and saved her from the suicide attempt. The family had been evicted from their apartment, and they barely had any money.
Dwayne has recounted the scene several times in past interviews and has been an influential mental health advocate in Hollywood. He continues to uplift others via inspirational videos on social media by encouraging his fans to follow his footsteps. (Huffington Post)
6. He almost became a CIA agent.
One of the little-known facts about Dwayne Johnson is that his dream was to become a CIA agent back in his days in college. While he has featured as a cop in numerous movies, his law enforcement ambitions are limited to on-screen roles. He once narrated that while in high school, aged 15 and standing at 6 foot 4 inches tall, weighing 225lbs and sporting a moustache, his fellow classmates even suspected that he was an undercover cop.
His then college advisor explained to him that he would need exceptional grades to become a CIA agent. With poor grades at the time, Dwayne swiftly abandoned his CIA ambitions. (Business Standard)
7. He once held a selfie record
Part of being a modern-day celebrity involves taking numerous photos with fans, especially selfies. Perhaps one of the most fascinating facts about Dwayne Johnson is that he once held a Guinness World Record of the most selfies taken in three minutes. Although the record has since been broken, he took 105 selfies in three minutes in London in 2015, while promoting ‘San Andreas’, a movie he starred in. Representatives from the Guinness World Records certified that all pictures were clear, captured the face and neck, and were focused. (Guinness World Records)
8. He gave his name to a life-saving spider
When scientists were struggling to name a huge, heroic spider, there was only one name they could come up with. ‘Dwayne, The Rock Johnson’ is an Australian funnel-shaped spider that scientists have extracted venom from. The process, used to create antivenom, is a literal lifesaver.
The hot and humid conditions experienced during the change in weather in Australia creates the perfect breeding ground for venomous spiders. The increasing number of spiders that would have potentially caused life-threatening bites, to both human and animals, will be reduced, thanks to Dwayne (the spider). (BBC)
9. His stunt double is his actual cousin
A true testimony of his family’s athletic prowess, Dwayne recruited his cousin, Tanoai Reed, as his stunt double. They have been on-screen partners for almost twenty years, a work relationship that dates back to ‘The Scorpion King’. The duo exchange diet and fitness programs, with their family bond contributing to their on-screen chemistry. Together, they have produced some of the most action-packed movies in the recent past, especially in the Fast & Furious franchise. They have been together through broken shins, ribcages, weight loss programs, and condensed shooting schedules. Described as a generous, kind individual, Dwayne regularly gifts his people; he bought his cousin a custom-built Ford truck in 2018 in appreciation for his professionalism and sacrifice. (GQ)
10. He loves to fish
Dwayne has a man-made lake at his home in Florida which he constructed for fishing purposes. The 48-year-old uses the time spent fishing to recharge and get rid of stress. He has hired several specialists to ensure that the lake is in optimal condition for the schools of fish to thrive. Some species of fish available in the lake include sunfish, bullhead catfish, carp, and largemouth bass. His Instagram account is littered with photos and videos of catches that he makes on his shooting locations, holiday destinations and at his personal lake. (Fishing Loft)
11. He is a country music fan
A frequent attendee of country music festivals when the opportunity arises, Dwayne is a self-confessed western swing fan. One of his favorite artistes is country music star Sturgill Simpson, who made headlines in 2014 with his Grammy-nominated album ‘Metamodern Sounds’. (Tennessean)
12. He had actual beef with Vin Diesel
This is probably one of the most unbelievable facts about Dwayne Johnson. While a lot of on-screen drama is scripted, some of his issues with Vin Diesel were not. The two co-stars in the ‘Fast & Furious’ franchise had a public feud that derived from the set of their movie. Dwayne, a stickler for time, had been thrown off by his co-stars’ alleged lateness to their shooting locations.
When filming the Fast & Furious 8, Dwayne took to Instagram to express his zero-tolerance for what he described as ‘Candy A**es.
“Some [male co-stars] conduct themselves as stand up men and true professionals, while others don’t. The ones that don’t are too chicken shit to do anything about it anyway. Candy a**es.”
“When you watch this movie next April and it seems like I’m not acting in some of these scenes and my blood is legit boiling—you’re right,”
TMZ later reported that a private meeting was held to squash the beef between the two stars. Two days later, Dwayne posted the following message on his Instagram:
“Family is gonna have differences of opinion and fundamental core beliefs,” the actor wrote. “To me, conflict can be a good thing, when it’s followed by great resolution. I was raised on healthy conflict and welcome it. And like any family, we get better from it.”
The two actors have since squashed the beef, and now enjoy a great friendship. (The Independent)
13. A word he popularized is in the dictionary
The popular WWE term, ‘The Smackdown’ was added to the Merriam Webster dictionary in 2007. Used extensively by Dwayne during his time at the WWE, the term refers to a physical confrontation or a defeat by an opponent. Although he did not have any financial gain from it, the addition of the term signified the cultural relevance that Dwayne holds in modern culture. (Bleacher Report)
14. He can sing and play musical instruments
His multipotentiality, one of the many facts about Dwayne Johnson, proves just how talented he is. The guitar aside, Dwayne can also play the ukulele. Besides, his voice sounds so good for a former pro wrestler. For example, in the movie Be Cool, he performed ‘You ain’t woman enough’ by Loretta Lynn, and in the movie ‘Game Plan’, he sang ‘Are you lonely tonight?’ by Elvis Presley. (Making Music Mag)
15. His iconic tattoos have a deeper meaning
It is impossible to name facts about Dwayne Johnson without mentioning his trademark tattoos, which symbolize his ancestry, personality, and spirituality. The tattoo on the left side of his chest, his most conspicuous one, represents his warrior spirit as a tribute to his Polynesian heritage.
His most famous tattoo is the brahma bull on his right upper arm, a symbol of his fearlessness and fighting spirit. His partnership with sportswear brand Under Armour featured a merchandise range with the bull symbol.
Dwayne’s shoulder tattoo, however, is the most detailed, and has the most meaning. Here’s what the symbols mean:
- Coconut leaves – They represent Samoan chieftaincy
- The sun – It is a symbol of good fortune
- The three characters – They represent his image and that of his ex-wife and daughter.
- Descending swirls – An embodiment of yesterday, today, and tomorrow
- Set of eyes – They symbolize ancestors watching over him
- Shark teeth – A symbol of his struggle
- Priest – An embodiment of his spirituality
- Stones – The importance of a solid foundation
- Tortoise shell – Warding off evil spirits
The Brahma Bull tattoo, which sums up our list of facts about Dwayne Johnson you probably didn’t know about, took a total of 22 hours to complete. The bull also represents his western zodiac sign. (Cheat Sheet)
From these facts about Dwayne Johnson, it is easy to understand why he is a lovable and influential person. The story of his struggles from childhood and the rise to international fame is inspiring to say the least. He is the ultimate warrior, both on and off the ring, and a role model to millions of fans across the globe.
Bleacher Report: https://bleacherreport.com/articles/2210989-throwback-thursday-dwayne-the-rock-johnson-gives-the-cfl-a-shot
Essentially Sports: https://www.essentiallysports.com/wwe-news-it-was-awful-the-undertaker-opens-up-about-wwe-debut-of-the-rock/
Republic World: https://www.republicworld.com/entertainment-news/hollywood-news/dwayne-johnsons-seven-bucks-production-house.html
Huffington Post: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/dwayne-johnson-says-his-mother-survived-a-suicide-attempt_n_5a731881e4b0146e5944be39
Business Standard: https://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/dwayne-johnson-s-high-school-classmates-believed-he-was-undercover-cop-119022500072_1.html
Guinness World Records: https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/news/2015/5/dwayne-the-rock-johnson-sets-selfie-record-with-fans-at-san-andreas-premiere-in
The Independent: https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/news/fast-8-beef-what-actually-happened-between-rock-and-vin-diesel-a7196986.html
Bleacher Report: https://bleacherreport.com/articles/1253013-wwe-the-impact-of-smackdown-being-placed-in-the-dictionary
Making Music Mag: https://makingmusicmag.com/dwayne-johnson-rock-ing-the-ukulele/
Fishing Loft: https://www.fishingloft.com/dwayne-johnson-fishing.html
Cheat Sheet: https://www.cheatsheet.com/entertainment/what-do-dwayne-the-rock-johnsons-tattoos-mean.html/