We all know that Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is the Great One, as well as being People‘s Sexiest Man Alive for 2016. But there’s a lot more to Johnson than the People’s Elbow and a whole lot of charm. Here are some lesser-known (and somewhat odd) facts about the People’s Champion.
He used to live a life of crime
Although he’s one of the most likable and successful men in Hollywood today, Johnson didn’t always have it so easy. In fact, as he revealed to Muscle and Fitness, his teenage years were rather precarious. "At 14 when I started training, at 14 is when I also started getting arrested—for fighting, theft, all kinds of stupid s*** that I shouldn’t have been doing…I got arrested 8 or 9 times I think by the time I was 17," he said.
Johnson went on to say that he got involved in a theft ring. "[We stole] high-end clothes and jewelry. In Waikiki, there’s a couple high-end blocks where there’s your Prada, Chanel, Gucci, Armani–jewelry stores–plenty of jewelry stores. There are a lot of tourists that come into Waikiki, and there’s a lot of money," he said. "A lot of foreign money that comes in, and we were part of a theft ring that would target those groups. We would target the money, we would target the high-end clothes and we would target the jewelry–turn around and sell it, best we could."
He genuinely disliked John Cena
Johnson and fellow WWE star John Cena are friends now, but leading up to their Wrestlemania matchups, their feud was very real. How did it all begin? Johnson explained to Muscle and Fitness, "John had said some things in an interview that I took exception to. He felt they were okay, I felt that they weren’t okay. I also laughed it off years ago but it wasn’t until I came back and realized that the marquee match-up was going to be between he and I that I would take that edge that we had—and let’s use it," he said. "So, we don’t have to hang out, we don’t have to be best friends, we won’t be friends at all."
It made for an awkward work environment, Johnson admitted. "It got really uncomfortable for a lot of people. And it gets uncomfortable for the fans–that they sense something," he said.
He added, "[The beef] continued to build. And what happens in wrestling is anybody who is in a feud and anybody who is in a match, everybody knows what everybody is going say. In this case, we approached it differently. I’d say ‘John, here’s what I’m going to say tonight: Go f**k yourself.’ He’d say, ‘Well, here’s going to be my response: F**k you too.’" "I mean, it was like that. And it was palpable for the fans, and it was palpable backstage," he continued. "And I would never be like that under any other circumstance…But in this case it worked out very well and through all that edge and attitude and bite that we had and nearly coming to blows backstage, and one night in the ring—literally we were nose-to-nose, it was any second. And through that in a crazy, weird completely unexplained way, we became great buds."
He also probably dissed Vin Diesel
In August 2016, Johnson took to social media to slam an unnamed co-star in the upcoming flick Fast & Furious 8 for lack of professionalism.
"My female co-stars are always amazing and I love ’em," he wrote. "My male co-stars however are a different story. Some conduct themselves as stand up men and true professionals, while others don’t," he wrote on Instagram. "The ones that don’t are too chicken s**t to do anything about it anyway. Candy asses. 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."
That co-star was quickly rumored to be Vin Diesel, especially after Diesel posted his own Facebook video in which he alluded to a "crazy week." "[Diesel] was constantly late… He acted like a diva and has held up productions before, so it’s not surprising that he’s the one The Rock is calling out," a source told Page Six. Another insider noted, "Vin Diesel and the Dwayne Johnson have been butting heads throughout the production of Fast 8. Vin has a reputation for being difficult—he shows up late, keeps people waiting, holds up production and is disrespectful to people on the set. Dwayne lost his patience with him…they did have a meeting to try to clear the air." The meeting reportedly didn’t work. According to Page Six, Johnson continuously rebuffed Diesel’s attempts to play nice later.
He’s a hit with older women
In his bestselling memoir, The Rock Says, Johnson described, in detail, losing his virginity at 14 years old to an older girl. "I’ve always been attracted to older women, and they’ve often reciprocated," he wrote. "That’s one of the benefits of being an early bloomer, I guess. I lost my virginity to an 18-year-old girl named Maria. Maria was not merely an acquaintance or a conquest. She was, at the time, the love of my life. She was THE ONE." Unfortunately, cops ended the experience early…because they were getting busy in a public park. Whoops!
Wrestling is his family business
The Rock is a third generation professional wrestler—the first ever that WWE (then the WWF) ever had. His father, Rocky Johnson, was a pro (and The Rock even played him on That ’70s Show!), as was his grandfather, the "High Chief" Peter Maivia, on his mom’s side. His maternal grandmother, Lia Maivia, was a professional wrestling promoter and one of the first women in the business.
The Rock is also often called a cousin to current WWE wrestler Leati Joseph Anoa’i—better known as Roman Reigns—though sources debate as to whether or not the champs are blood relatives. The sport is so prolific in his family that they’ve been dubbed "The Samoan Dynasty."
He became a bodybuilder to overcome poverty
In addition to crime, Johnson’s teenage years were also plagued by financial troubles. "When I was a kid at 14 and we were in Hawaii we were evicted out of our little [home]," Johnson told CinemaBlend. "We came home and it had a padlock on the door. I saw my mom crying—it was me and my mom—and she was tapped out. There was nothing we could do, padlock on the door."
That moment, he says, is what inspired him to get into bodybuilding. "I just remember at that time thinking I never wanted this to happen again, so I wanted to become a success somehow so we’d never get locked out again and never get evicted," he said. "So in my mind at that time, at 14, the men who were successful were Stallone and Schwarzenegger and guys like that—Harrison Ford—who were these men of action. I was like, ‘Okay, they’re successful, they’re not getting evicted, they built their bodies—I’m gonna go build my body.’"
He wanted to play football…but was usurped by a future NFL star
Johnson was on the University of Miami Hurricanes football team in college, but ESPN reports that he only started once in his entire tenure on the team. In fact, he was replaced by future NFL star Warren Sapp. "When he was [first] there, I was a tight end in high school and I got [to University of Miami] as a tight end and linebacker, and they moved me over to D-line," Sapp recalled. "I was real reluctant to do so. I thought I was a pretty good tight end and a pretty good athlete, but being 290 pounds, they moved me to D-line and said, ‘We need you to rush the passer or you can go home.’" He continued, "So I came into the D-line room and sat down, and Dwayne Johnson walks in and says, ‘What are you doing here?’ I said, ‘I’m here for your job.’ So that’s how me and him had our introduction to each other. I said it jokingly, but I was there for his job."
He had to lose weight to work in Hollywood
It’s not just women who are under pressure to be slim on the silver screen. Yep, even the muscled-up Johnson was told to at one point tone everything down. "When he was wrestling, he was at 270 pounds and the ruler of the world," The Rock’s ex-wife and manager, Dany Garcia, told Forbes. "When he went into movies he dropped to 230 pounds and they told him to stop talking about wrestling." The Rock himself noted, "It reached a point where I felt that instead of me trying to conform to Hollywood, I needed to have Hollywood conform to me and embrace my past." Amen!
He’s a world record holder
How’s this for a fun fact? In 2015, Johnson set a world record for "the most self-portrait photographs (selfies) taken in three minutes," according to Guinness World Records. The modern feat was accomplished at the world premiere of his big-budget blockbuster San Andreas in London, where he reportedly took a jaw-dropping 105 selfies on the red carpet, according to the record books.
Vince McMahon rejected him
Although he’s arguably the most famous wrestler of our generation, Johnson didn’t quite find success over night. In fact, at one point early on in his career, he admits he was turned away by another wrestling icon: Vince McMahon. The reason: he still had a lot to learn.
"I think wrestling for $40 a night and eating at the Waffle House three times a day, wrestling every weekend at a flea market, then at a state fair or a car dealership or in barns, ‘blade jobs,’ where I cut my forehead with razor blades [means I earned my success]," he told Esquire. "These days I never question, ‘Oh, do I deserve it? Am I a real man?’ No."
"I get a call once from the WWE, saying, ‘Vince [McMahon] would like to see you in Stamford,’" he continued. "I went to his office and he says, ‘I really think you have a lot of potential, but you’re not ready for the WWE. You should go to Memphis, Tennessee. That’s where I want you to learn the business.’ And as I was leaving, he said, ‘You keep working hard, but don’t go down there and cut your f**king forehead with razor blades, you understand me?’" Well, at least it all worked out in the end, anyway.
He makes serious bank
Baller indeed: The Rock was named Forbes‘ highest paid actor for 2016, taking home $64.5 million—more than twice what he’d earned just one year earlier, courtesy of large upfront fees for Moana and Central Intelligence, as well as the upcoming Fast & Furious 8, Baywatch, and Jumanji, all due to be released in 2017. He was predictably humble and charming about the news when it broke in August 2016, tweeting, "Want to say two things about this. I started w/ $7 bucks. If I can overcome, so can you. Waffle House on me!!" Don’t threaten us with a good time.
He can be very secretive
When Johnson starred in the 2014 flick Hercules, he was determined to keep his look in the film under wraps—and anyone who tried to spoil it for viewers was in big trouble. "I would say maybe close to 50 people were fired—crew members—all trying to sneak pictures," he told CinemaBlend. "There’s mandate and we all agreed on that."
Johnson did, however, send out some photos on his own. How’d he get away with it? "I told the studios…’Hey, what I’d like to do is take the audience and the fans on a journey from beginning to end, because it’s such a passion project for me,’" he said. "’So from the time I get to Budapest, I’d like to take them on a journey in terms of what my diet is, what my training is and on set too.’ They said, ‘Well, how are you going to do that?’ I said, ‘Well, trust me. Somehow I’m going to do it.’"
Steven Spielberg is a fan
Johnson revealed that he knew he made it when he got fan mail from none other than Steven Spielberg after an appearance on Saturday Night Live. Johnson told Esquire, "About three weeks ago, I’m here at the house and I get a letter—’Been enjoying your movies over the years. Very entertaining. I feel like I’ve really gotten to know you over the years, most recently after watching you host Saturday Night Live. Great job. You continue to go for it. Proud of your work and look forward to meeting you. Steven Spielberg,’" Johnson recalled. "It took me back to being just like a kid. I was so blown away." So, how long before Spielberg casts Johnson in his next movie?
He had a rocky adolescence
Believe it or not, even Johnson had an awkward phase. He told the New York Times that because he was so large and had a mustache at 15, his classmates shunned him. "They thought I was an undercover cop," he said. "I had no friends."
He also detailed that he purchased a car from a drug addict for $40…only to drive it on the highway to find another addict asleep in the backseat. "We kicked him out," he said, "and then dumped the car in a Burger King parking lot."
He tweeted about Osama Bin Laden’s death before it was announced
Considering Johnson recently announced he may have political aspirations, it’s no wonder that he somehow knew about the death of Osama Bin Laden before President Obama even announced it to the rest of us. Over an hour before Obama delivered his historic press conference, Johnson tweeted, "Just got word that will shock the world – Land of the free…home of the brave DAMN PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN!"
So, how did he know?
"If I tell you that, I won’t have to kill you, but I’ll have to behead you—no, I got my sources," Johnson told Huffington Post. "I got friends in high places and low places. It was a very interesting day. …The individuals who were there were proud to let me know. I knew the president was going to give his speech; I thought he was going to give it at a certain time and so I thought…it’s appropriate that I tweet ‘I’m damn proud to be an American’ and keep it in that space without giving away too much information."
As it turns out, he most likely learned about the victory from one of his cousins, who’s a Navy SEAL and couldn’t contain himself…if you smell what we’re cooking.