Between the Rock and a hard place
The only thing DWAYNE JOHNSON is laying the smackdown on these days is the global box office. Having cut a hip swathe through Hollywood with films like Get Smart and Richard Kelly’s vastly polarising Southland Tales, Johnson is back in action mode with the rollicking family adventure RACE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN.
You have some roots down in this part of the world...
"I did do a bit of schooling in New Zealand. We were there for about a year. New Zealand always holds a special place for me because for so long we had travelled and at that point the wrestling business wasn't as monopolised as it is today so I was living in a lot of different states. By the time I was eight I had probably lived in about thirteen different states so then we moved over to NZ where there was such a great sense of family. We stayed with my family and growing up as an only child I was alone a lot but when we moved to New Zealand I was living with five to eight of my cousins. (Laughs.) As well as aunts and uncles. It was a wonderful time, I really enjoyed it. I had a chance to see the All Blacks play in Australia, it was amazing. The energy was incredible."
I know you'd love to go back to Samoa.
"Sure, I would love to. I had the opportunity to go to Samoa four years ago and we always talk about going back. I would love to take my family back there. It's just about carving out the time. But I love the Isle of Samoa and the people so I can't wait to show my family and specifically my daughter that side of her culture."
It seems now, with where you are in your career, that you have managed to get others working for you as well as just working for yourself?
"Sure, you're absolutely right. Coming from the world of professional wrestling I was essentially my own promoter, my own agent, my own attorney. I would do all of my own negotiating. So in making that transition I understood over time how important it was to surround myself with people who were better than me at doing that particular job. And disseminating to them what I would like to accomplish. So I'm happy to tell you it's a good place to be in right now. (Laughs)"
I believe you. You really are seen first and foremost as an actor now. I mentioned to a friend the other day ‘I'm interviewing Dwayne Johnson' and they were so excited. And then I mentioned how I have been such a fan of wrestling for so long, and they said ‘well, what does he have to do with that?' The point is, they only knew of you as an actor. I thought that's a pretty special thing and I thought you might appreciate that anecdote.
"[Laughs] That's great, I really do appreciate that a lot. Coming from the world of pro wrestling I had my challenges with making the transition. But I knew early I needed to identify what type of actor I wanted to become, which is one who is able to work in a lot of different genres of movies and hopefully make some good movies that would entertain audiences. The bigheads at the studios wanted to pigeon-hole me as an action star though, which is great because I love action movies but I wanted to do so much more. I wanted to do comedies, I wanted to do dramas and even with those challenges I wouldn't have changed anything because coming from that world of wrestling it gave me a great platform. You know the crowds! From five to fifty-five thousand. That was the training for me and it was really invaluable."
You've done work as unusual as Southland Tales...
"I have seen the finished version and I'm still not quite sure what the movie is about. I love Richard Kelly - he is one of my dear friends. He is a brilliant director who will eventually turn the corner and make some incredible movies that will stand the test of time."
Race To Witch Mountain is released in Melbourne and Darwin on April 2 and in Sydney, Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane on April 9. For much more on Dwayne Johnson, pick up the latest issue of FILMINK Magazine.