Dwayne Johnson has been our “People’s Champion” since his WWE days as The Rock, putting on stellar wrestling performances since 1996 before retiring from the sport in 2019. If you’ve ever heard “Lay The SmackDown” in passing, you can thank Johnson for the tagline.
After showcasing his talents in the ring, the 50-year-old decided to capitalize on his superstardom pivoting into the Hollywood space, where he has found massive success. The actor has appeared in over 40+ films including The Mummy Returns, The Game Plan, the Fast & Furious franchise, and is now carving his territory in the DC Universe in the new film Black Adam. Johnson has portrayed the anti-hero in the past, appearing as the character in the film Shazam! and voiced the character in DC League of Super-Pets.
In this conversation with BET.com, the Moana star chats about how important it was for him to be inclusive with this film and shares his ultimate superpower in Hollywood.
“It was a priority for us to be not only inclusive but also to pay real homage to the mythology and respect to the mythology of Black Adam,” Johnson expressed.
“He started as a slave with his family and so that part was very important. Inclusivity was very important and I’ll share this with you — I’ve gotten to a really good place in my career where we could get movies greenlit, partner up with these studios, and we have a lot of latitude to look at these characters which was a great thing. We were introducing these new characters of the JSA, the Justice Society of America, who predated the Justice League. The Justice Society — our JSA — was the very first superhero group ever. Not only did we have the honor we also had the opportunity to interpret these characters through our own eyes. Hawkman, it should be [Aldis Hodge], Cyclone should be [Quintessa Swindell] because they came in and they killed it. I love our cast and I think our cast is perfect. We could be disruptive in our approach and still be respectful to the mythology, but also do it our way.”
As we continued the conversation, Johnson shared that the ultimate superpowers that have helped him be so successful in his career are “luck,” “hard work,” and “humility.” He then goes into a powerful story about almost being evicted at 14 years old in Hawaii and keeps in his head he is always “five minutes away from being evicted” to keep him grounded.
“I feel like I operate with my back against the wall,” he shared.
“When you operate like that, there’s nowhere to go but forward. I think that has helped me because when there was a time when I had seven bucks in my pocket. I knew at that time, I knew two things — I was broke as f*** and I didn’t want to be broke. I would do everything not to be broke anymore and not be evicted. So that still is here — It’s probably why I need 10 therapists [laughs].
See Johnson continue to push forward in his new film Black Adam which hits theaters on Friday, October 21.
*This interview has been edited for length and clarity
Ty Cole is a New York-based entertainment reporter and writer for BET.com who covers pop culture, music, and lifestyle. Follow his latest musings on Twitter @IamTyCole.