Published May 10, 2017Former Calgary Stampeder and WWE star Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is easily one of the most lovable men in the world, and he's used his charm to become Hollywood's highest paid actor. Even his shitty movies are made that much better because, well, the Rock is in them.
Since we've all got a universal crush on the Samoan-American muscleman, we were pleased to see that he was on the cover of the new GQ. Fortunately, writer Caity Weaver got to the bottom of the Rock, delivering some fascinating tidbits about the actor in her excellent piece.
Here are six things we learned about our favourite leading man.
6. He's a feminist
Rather than sidestep the phrasing, the Rock flat out describes himself as a "feminist," adding that he was raised by "strong women." In the piece, Weaver describes just how curious, thoughtful and respectful Johnson is in their conversations:
One of the first things he'd needed to know about me was if I'd ever been to Australia. I haven't, I told him, and he beamed and shook his head. "You'd love it," he declared. A puzzled pause hung in the air while I frantically tried to deduce what about my bearing projects that I would love Australia, and Johnson remembered that he didn't actually know anything about me (yet), except that I'd never been to Australia. Which made him want to learn everything. Among the many, many things Dwayne Johnson wondered: what high school I went to, if I'd ever been to the Oscars, how I chose my college, if I had "a big party" when I graduated from that college, what my sleep schedule is like, if I believe in ghosts, if I needed a ladder to access a tree house I visited one time, if my dad is black—wait, what?
How did Dwayne Johnson know? " 'Cause you look mixed and you said he listens to jazz," he says. Johnson is a blisteringly active listener. He has, in the briefest of moments, displayed more earnest curiosity about me than anyone I've met in my entire life. (What is my favorite Christmas carol? I wondered after Dwayne Johnson asked me that, with only ten months left till Christmas.)
5. His smile is so charismatic that directors have to tone it down
In the piece, producer Beau Flynn says the Rock's smile "is like a weapon." In fact, his endless well of charm has caused problems in the editing room. According to Flynn, they had to tone down his charisma in San Andreas so that the audience wouldn't think the movie was over:
"When he sees her for the first time, it was critical to see that smile and feel that sense of relief," says Flynn. But the filmmakers had to tread lightly: The reunion wasn't the climax of the movie—Johnson's character still needed to save the girl from a collapsing building one more time. "You have to be smart," Flynn says, "because if [the smile] is too much, the audience will feel safe. They'll feel the movie is over."
4. He owns a giant private gym in Los Angeles' sketchy warehouse district
Anyone who follows the Rock on Instagram knows that he's a big time gym rat, but much of his reps are done at a private gym. It's in a particularly terrible neighbourhood:
His solicitude, I realize, is also why he wanted to drive: Johnson's "private gym" is situated in one of the top ten worst locations I have ever been, including all grocery-store bathrooms. "This is why I didn't want Uber to just drop you off here," he says as he pulls into a desolate parking lot. "Because this is a shitty neighborhood."
What Dwayne Johnson calls "a shitty neighborhood" could more accurately be styled "a void of humanity right here in sunny California." It's somewhere you could go to procure the bulk materials needed to construct a shitty neighborhood: DOORS, promises a sign on one empty building; SIGNS, another. Johnson parks his Escalade next to an abandoned Honda Prelude.
"Where are we?" I ask, unable to believe that my best friend has brought me here. "Warehouse district," he announces proudly, unlocking an unmarked metal slab of a door. "Private gym." He holds the slab open for me.... "I don't mind it being in the hood, but I do want to have a shower," he says, explaining why he may move. "The warehouse district in the hood always works out nicely, because I can play music really loudly, and it's not in an office area where people will complain. But the biggest reason for this [seclusion] is that my gym time is really the only time I have an opportunity to be away from the public and by myself. So I get a lot of work done in here. Not only training. It becomes my meditation. Nobody bothers me here."
3. He owns a piano that once belonged to Benjamin Franklin
The Rock is about as all-American as one can get, so it only makes sense that he owns a piano that once belonged to one of the founding fathers. The piano came with a farm he bought in Virginia, though the main reason he owns property around America is, of course, so he can work out:
Johnson's in Los Angeles now to film HBO's Ballers, but he's got gyms wherever he goes. He's building one at his farm in Virginia, where he keeps his horses (and also, he says, a piano once owned by Benjamin Franklin; it came with the farm), and he has a workout facility at his primary residence in Florida, where he lives on a compound on the edge of the Everglades, in a tiny rural town popular among professional athletes who yearn for country living within an hour's drive of Miami. As he crisscrosses the country for work, he's constantly scouting new spots. If he has to go to New York for a night, he will find a gym there, and it will be in a dank, subterranean room, probably off an alley that only Johnson can find. If you have a basement, he might be in your house right now, doing leg presses and staying hydrated. Found an incredible little out-of-the-way spot, he might write on Instagram, under a photo of himself lifting your washing machine.
2. He's not openly affiliated with one political party
Since he's basically a walking, talking American flag, both the Democrats and the Republicans were desperate to get an endorsement from the Rock in last year's presidential election. Though he's critical of Trump's Muslim ban and his general temperament as a president, the Rock opted out of the conversation in the election:
Last year, both presidential campaigns reached out to him for his endorsement, he says. "Which I did not give. I felt like…and give me a second, because I've never said this publicly, so…" He stops to gather his thoughts. He's sitting now in a cabana on the set of Ballers while crew members wheel around towering lights. "I feel like I'm in a position now where my word carries a lot of weight and influence, which of course is why they want the endorsement. But I also have a tremendous amount of respect for the process and felt like if I did share my political views publicly, a few things would happen—and these are all conversations I have with myself, in the gym at four o'clock in the morning—I felt like it would either (a) make people unhappy with the thought of whatever my political view was. And, also, it might sway an opinion, which I didn't want to do." He says he told both the Trump and Clinton camps that he wasn't making an endorsement, that he preferred to see Americans make up their own minds.
As for what Johnson believes, well, he's remained cagey. People searching for evidence of party loyalty point out that he spoke at the 2000 Republican convention, which is true; but he also attended the Democratic convention that same year, encouraging audiences at both events to vote. These days, he tells me, he's registered as an independent.
1. He's probably going to run for president (and save the world)
Last year, the Washington Post published a piece suggesting the Rock would make for a solid presidential candidate. It appears that the actor and gym fiend has actually taken this suggestion to heart:
Since then, Johnson tells me, he's given the question more thought. "A year ago," he says, "it started coming up more and more. There was a real sense of earnestness, which made me go home and think, 'Let me really rethink my answer and make sure I am giving an answer that is truthful and also respectful.' I didn't want to be flippant—'We'll have three days off for a weekend! No taxes!'"
So, after all that consideration, Johnson doesn't hesitate when I ask him whether he honestly might one day give up his life as the highest-paid movie star on earth—which is unquestionably easier, more fun, and more lucrative than being president of the United States—in order to run for office. "I think that it's a real possibility," he says solemnly.