The Profile Dossier: Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, the Most Likable Person In the World
“Blood, sweat, and respect. First two you give, last one you earn."
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson has become one of the most popular and well-liked people on the planet.
As if to prove that he is genuinely that likable, he responded to my tweet about this very Dossier, which made me like him even more!
(In case you were wondering about the peanut butter, his elaborate cheat meals include double milk chocolate and peanut butter chip cookies with creamy peanut butter smothered between the two cookies.)
When Johnson started in Hollywood, his ambitions were extraordinary — and his incredible capacity for work has made them a reality.
Johnson is the highest-paid actor in the world, making more than $20 million per movie, thanks to a string of box office hits. His films have grossed over $10.5 billion worldwide, which makes him one of the highest-grossing movie stars of all time.
The reason? His charisma and drive for greatness. Johnson tests well in what the film industry refers to as "all four quadrants:" old men, young men, old women, and young women. In other words, the people who don't like The Rock are few and far between.
As one profile puts it: "If Johnson's personal magnetism were any stronger, birds in his vicinity might plummet from the sky, their internal navigation mechanisms thrown off by the force of his personality."
But Johnson wasn't always this likable. In fact, he was quite the opposite. As a teenager, Johnson led a life of lies, anger, violence, and delinquency. Growing up, his parents lived paycheck to paycheck, moving to a new place every time his dad got a new gig. (Johnson's father, Rocky, was a professional wrestler in the 1980s.) He watched them struggle to afford basic necessities as they were evicted from their apartment and got their car repossessed.
By the time Johnson was in high school, he was arrested for everything from fighting to stealing to forging checks — all before the age of 17. "I did a lot of stupid shit and struggled to stay on the right path,” he says.
A man named Jody Cwik changed his life. He was the high school's football coach who asked him to join the team. “My grades got better, and I started getting recruited from every college across the country,” Johnson says. “My thought process started to change. That’s when I started thinking about goals and what I wanted to accomplish.”
After playing football for four years at the University of Miami, Johnson was passed over by the NFL. He went to play for the Canadian Football League, but was cut shortly after.
At age 23, Johnson moved back in with his parents and hit rock bottom. That's when he decided to follow in the footsteps of his father and pursue a career in wrestling. Thanks to his charisma and showmanship, Johnson went on, as The Rock, to become the biggest superstar televised wrestling has ever seen.
He made good money as a professional wrestler, but it would be his third act — acting — that would turn "The Rock" into a household name. After his first film role, as the Scorpion King in The Mummy Returns, Johnson has starred in dozens of movies, including Jumanji, The Fast & Furious, and Baywatch.
As Hollywood's most bankable star, Johnson often reminds himself that the things we consider to be our most catastrophic failures often lead us to our most fulfilling successes.
"In 1995, I had $7 bucks in my pocket and knew two things: I’m broke as hell and one day I won’t be," he says.
On becoming the most likable man in America: Johnson is making movie after movie, hosting SNL, doing ads for Apple, working out at 3:30 a.m., and spending time with his family. It’s really, really hard to not like him. But he hasn’t always been smiles and bear hugs. Johnson was arrested multiple times as a teen, failed to get drafted in the NFL, and battled with bouts of depression. In this profile, we learn how his darkest moments drive him forward.
On running for president: At 6’4,’’ Johnson’s size may make him intimidating, but his smile has the power to melt hearts around the globe. He’s likable and popular, a combination powerful enough to take him from Hollywood straight to Washington. And it makes sense — he’s wildly patriotic, he’s a registered independent, and he encourages debate. This 2017 profile asks the question: Could Johnson aim for the highest office in the land?
On building an entertainment empire: Make no mistake, Johnson is not just a movie star — he's a savvy businessman who rocked the entertainment industry. In 2013, he became the highest-grossing actor with his movies making $1.3 billion worldwide. In this profile, he talks about ownership: He and ex-wife Dany Garcia co-founded production company Seven Bucks Productions that creates original content across platforms. (Reply to this email if you can't access this article)
On confronting his demons: When he was in high school, Johnson was a troublemaker. But there was one incident that's seared into his memory — he and a friend got brass knuckles with the idea they would beat someone up and rob them. "Out of this whole craziness, I can sit here today and be so grateful that what I originally wanted to do did not happen," he says, saying they never went through with the plan. "It's one of those stories you sit so humbled and grateful that I didn't go down that path."
On using failure as a weapon: If you need a dose of motivation, just watch this. In 2018, Johnson delivered a moving speech to the L.A. Lakers during a rough year for the team. He tells stories of being arrested as a teen, failing to get drafted in the NFL, and struggling to make it in Hollywood. Johnson explains the importance of keeping your failures at the forefront of your mind. That night, the Lakers won by nine. [Part 1] [Part 2]
On leveling up: Johnson has never followed a blueprint in life. He went from being so poor as a kid that he and his mother were evicted from their home, to Division I college football, to World Wrestling Entertainment, to breaking into Hollywood. Johnson believes in always striving for more. In this interview with Oprah, Johnson opens up about his childhood, mental health, fame, and the recent death of his father.
TECHNIQUES TO TRY.
Find a hole-in-the-wall opportunity: Johnson says we all have a "seven buck" moment in our life. It's that moment when you feel like you've hit rock bottom. In times like these, Johnson says, you won't be in the mindset to see opportunity, but you'll have to force yourself to do it. "My opportunities at the time were little holes in the wall," he says. "I would see this little hole-in-the-wall opportunity, and I would scratch at it, claw at it, bite at it, and kick it down until I got through that hole and create a bigger opportunity for myself." It's important to shift your mindset from waiting for opportunity to creating opportunity. Here's a question to ask yourself: "If you had nothing but $7 in your pocket, what could you do today to create opportunity?"
Understand that you're never alone in the darkness: At age 23, Johnson was forced to move back into a tiny apartment with his parents. Humbled and embarrassed, Johnson slipped into a depression that made it hard to get out of bed. But it was at his lowest moment when he decided to turn his life around. "At 23, you think life is over," he says. "I fell into a deep depression, and I remember the only thing I wanted to do was clean the walls. I grabbed a cleaner and a rag, and for days, I would clean. It was just the only thing I could control." Depression, Johnson realized, makes you feel isolated. Like you're the only one going through it. Know that's not true. "Just got to remember to hold on to that fundamental quality of faith. Have faith. On the other side of your pain is something good," he says.
Counter sadness with action: Johnson has long preached that physical exercise has had significant positive effects on his mental state. “My knee-jerk reaction to sadness is some sort of action. I like to go do something," he says. "For me, the going to do something, it sounds boring and cliche, but it is what it is with me, I gotta hit the gym." Exercising gives you a sense of control over your body and can help diffuse the powerful grip of the emotions overtaking it.
Let go of grudges through empathy: We all have people in our lives that have wronged us or failed us in some way. For Johnson, that person was his father. He grew up feeling that his dad was incapable of loving him the way a parent should love their child. This feeling grew into resentment which grew into a grudge. But then Johnson dug into his father's childhood and found struggle, a broken family, and lots of hardship. This empathy gave him an ability to forgive. "The judgements or grudges we have with to our family members or friends, it starts to get a little easier when you realize they did the best with what they had. Their ability wasn't right or wrong ... it was just their ability to love," he says. The best relationships are judgement-free.
Keep your failures at the forefront of your mind: No matter what you achieve in life, never forget where you came from. In order to avoid becoming complacent, Johnson keeps the painful memories at the forefront of his mind. “As crazy as it may sound, in my mind, I’m always a week away from getting evicted, and that’s what keeps me motivated, not the material things,” he says. “You can strip them all away — strip them away today. Strip away the glitz and the glamour of Hollywood. Strip away the red carpet, the big box-office global hits, the cars, the homes. Strip everything away to me going back to being dead broke, evicted with seven bucks in my pocket, and you know what? The one thing that’s absolutely guaranteed is that I will still be training when the sun comes up." A cocktail of consistency, passion, and hard work is the antidote to complacency.
QUOTES TO REMEMBER.
“Blood, sweat, and respect. First two you give, last one you earn."
“Don’t be afraid to be ambitious about your goals. Hard work never stops. Neither should your dreams.”
“Success isn’t always about ‘greatness’, it’s about consistency. Consistent, hard work gains success. Greatness will come.”
“Not only do I think being nice and kind is easy, but being kind, in my opinion, is important.”
“All successes begin with self-discipline. It starts with you.”
“One of the most important things you can accomplish is just being yourself.”
“Success at anything will always come down to this: focus and effort. And we control both.”
“Let your actions do your talking for you.”
“It’s you vs. you.”
Great Article. Polina. I like how you Organized your writing.
heart warming article Polina. Love every part of it.