Dwayne Johnson
Photo by Wesley Mann

Dwayne Johnson: “It comes with the game”

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Short Profile

Name: Dwayne Douglas Johnson
DOB: 2 May 1972
Place of birth: Hayward, California, United States
Occupation: Actor

Dwayne Johnson stars in Red Notice, the number one most watched movie in the world on Netflix. An unprecedented 121M subscriber views (and counting), over 50% of all Netflix subscribers worldwide, have watched Red Notice.

Mr. Johnson, you’ve appeared in countless films over the course of your career, and you’re often called the “hardest working man in Hollywood.” Are you happiest when you’re working?

I enjoy working, I enjoy building; I have a little philosophy that I enjoy putting in the work with my own two hands — I like saying that. Making a movie and producing a movie, especially one that you are lucky enough to star in, comes with a great deal of joy, an incredible amount of hard work and equal amounts of stress, pressure, fun, and anxiety. But ultimately it’s extremely rewarding! I have the best job in the world.

How do you decide when to say yes to a film project, and when it might be too stressful for you?

Well, the appealing things about making, for example, Red Notice, were the following: the opportunity to make a movie that was fun, globetrotting, working with my friends Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot… Rawson Thurber, the director, this was our third movie together, and I loved that this was stylistic and different with a really cool twist. Creating a movie that hundreds of millions of people will see on opening weekend thanks to Netflix; of course the idea of that is pretty exciting!

“As I get a little older, I start to realize more and more how important balance is, how important mindfulness is.”

Do you ever think about slowing down?

I will tell you, as I get a little older, I start to realize more and more how important balance is, how important mindfulness is. And I really try to practice that with all the things that I have going on. I think that has allowed me to bring in a lot more people who are smarter and better than me at what they do, so they can help push the businesses along.

It’s so crucial to find a balance, otherwise the constant work can start to wear you down.

I do try to find that balance! It’s really important to make sure that the wellness part is taken care of! At the same time, I do like activity and I do like movement; I like energy and action. And I like getting up in the morning with the sun — sometimes I can beat the sun up! Not that I am in competition with the sun, because otherwise I would need therapy! (Laughs) But I do like kick starting my day. Fitness has always been a part of my lifestyle.

Indeed, I think I saw an Instagram post of you working out just before this interview.

(Laughs) Even when I was a little kid, my dad would take me to the gym at a very young age! I think we all, at some degree, get up and we move and we are working out, whether we are intensely working out or doing a little bit of cardio, whatever that is, everyone does their version of sweat equity. Wellness is a part of that, and it is so incredibly important.

Is wellness also part of your duty as role model? More so than other celebrities, people really look up to you, and there is a certain responsibility that comes with that.

Sure, it comes with the game. As you get a little bit of fame or a little bit of notoriety, whether that be on a football field, a soccer field, a wrestling ring, on the big screen, on stage, whatever it is that you do, I’ve always felt that that responsibility just comes with the game. I remember very early, even when I was playing college football, I accepted that role. I guess as I got a little bit older and achieved what I’ve been fortunate enough to achieve, I do feel it’s really important to not only be the best example that I can be… But in that spirit, I also believe in sharing the good stuff. The good positive optimistic stuff ultimately is the most important thing. There is a real energy behind that. And I have found that sharing the wins, the successes will make people feel good and you’ve got a real shot at maybe motivating and maybe inspiring some people along the way.

“I was tired of being broke and I would do anything to change my situation. The only thing that I could do was control my effort and put in the work with my own two hands!”

Is it also important to share the bad stuff, the failures? You’ve been very open about your road to success; coming from football, when you had nothing but seven dollars in your pocket?

Yeah, that was in 1995 and that will always serve as my north star and drive, for sure. I think we all go through our “seven bucks moments,” and I remember thinking at that time that I was tired of being broke and I would do anything to change my situation, to help and take care of my family. The only thing that I could do was control my effort and put in the work with my own two hands! Sharing those kinds of lessons, the harder times and the times where you do get your ass kicked, the times you don’t win, job loss, life loss, love loss… It’s important to share some of that too, being in my position, especially the lessons that that may help a few people along the way.

What have you grappled with recently that has provided a similar lesson?

Well, a few years ago, I had a reached a lower point than normal in my life. I was struggling with something that was within the family and it really set me back. I was going through it! I have a tendency to keep things very close to the sleeve, I think because I was an only child growing up and I’m used to not really communicating my feelings, you know? To express my emotions right out of the gate was something that never came easy to me, even these days! So I did have to overcome that, it took me maybe about a month or two to kind of overcome that, get through the sludge of that.

What do you think helped you the most during that time?

At that time, I had work to help ease the strain, I had some loved ones at that time who were really wonderful. Even though I am not saying exactly what I was going through back then, I know that we all go through it, so my recommendation is to talk about it. And that’s so much easier said than done. But the faster you can talk about it, then the faster you get, not only to the other side of it, but also then you start to sharpen your toolbox in terms of your skills and how equipped you are to deal with things like that. If you are going through it, if you are feeling low, if you are feeling down, wondering why is all this shit happening… Let’s try and figure it out. Try your best to talk about it and not keep it in, because I have been down that road where you keep shit in, it’s not a good place to be.