No matter the stage, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is one of the best performers of his generation.
Breaking out on the WWF circuit in the mid-90s as the smack-talking “The Rock,” Johnson eventually outgrew the ring and brought his talents to the big screen. The starring roles came immediately with sleeper hits such as “The Rundown” (2003) and “Walking Tall” (2004), and it wasn’t long before the big blockbusters came calling. This summer, Johnson is (extra) bulked up and portraying the mythical hero in “Hercules“.
From his incredible wrestling lineage to his surprising NFL teammate, here are 29 things you probably don’t know about Dwayne Johnson.
1. Dwayne Johnson was born May 2, 1972 in Hayward, California to Ata Maivia and Rocky Johnson, a professional wrestler.
2. Johnson’s grandfather was also a professional wrestler, “High Chief” Peter Maivia, making The Rock a third-generation wrestler. In fact, he was the WWF’s first third-generation wrestler, and was heavily hyped upon his professional arrival.
3. His maternal grandmother, Lia Maivia, was also a professional wrestling promoter and took over Polynesian Pacific Pro Wrestling after her husband passed away.
4. He has several cousins and uncles who are/were also professional wrestlers. Needless to say, wrestling is a family business.
5. Johnson traveled around growing up, living in Hawaii, Pennsylvania, and even New Zealand as a child.
6. Johnson’s father, Rocky Johnson, is of Black Nova Scotian origin, while his mother is of Samoan heritage.
7. Despite not having been born in Canada, The Rock became a Canadian citizen in 2009 due to changes in Canadian nationality law. In short, he gained the citizenship because his father was born in Canada. (He is also a citizen of the United States.)
8. When he was at high school in Pennsylvania, Johnson began playing football and, subsequently, earned a full scholarship to play defensive tackle at the University of Miami.
9. He was a member of the 1991 Miami Hurricanes’ National Championship team.
10. Later, after an injury sidelined him, Johnson was replaced by future NFL star Warren Sapp.
11. He went undrafted by the NFL, but graduated with a degree in criminology and physiology.
12. With football still on his mind, Johnson joined the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League (CFL), though was he cut only two months into their season.
13. Now that his football career was over, Johnson decided to join the family business. Rocky Johnson was initially reluctant for his son to become a wrestler, but ultimately he agreed to train him himself.
14. His first wrestling alter ego was Flex Kavana.
15. The name didn’t stick, however, and Johnson made his WWF debut as Rocky Maivia at the encouragement of Vince McMahon and Jim Ross. The name is a combination of his father and grandfather’s ring names.
16. By 1997, the wrestler began going by The Rock, no longer even acknowledging his previous moniker.
17. The Rock had an incredibly accomplished wrestling career that included 8 WWF/WWE Championships before retiring in 2004.
18. He later returned to WWE part-time from 2011 to 2013.
19. In 2000, he was featured on Wyclef Jean’s single “It Doesn’t Matter” and also appeared in the music video.
20. That same year, Johnson hosted “Saturday Night Live” and, subsequently, began receiving offers from Hollywood studios.
21. Soon after, he appeared on “Star Trek: Voyager,” as an alien wrestler that not so coincidentally uses all of The Rock’s signature moves.
22. He even appeared on “That ’70s Show” as his father!
24. The film launched the spinoff “The Scorpion King” (2002), which marked Johnson’s first leading role.
25. He also received $5.5 million for the movie, the highest by an actor in his or her first starring role.
26. Around this time, he was considered to play Johnny Bravo in a big screen adaptation of the popular animated series. Unfortunately, the film never got off the ground.
27. It seems Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has had success wherever he turns. In 2013, Forbes named him the top-grossing actor of 2013, his films collectively earning over $1.3 billion at the box office worldwide.
28. As far as his personal life goes, Johnson married Dany Garcia in May, 1997 after dating since their days together at the University of Miami. The couple welcomed a daughter, Simone Alexandra, in 2001; however, the couple split in 2007.
Bonus Fact: Johnson co-wrote his autobiography “The Rock Says…” in 2000. The book debuted at No. 1 on The New York Times Best Seller list and remained on the list for about five months!