Dwayne Johnson established himself as one of the biggest names in the history of professional wrestling despite only spending six-years as a full-time performer, which is an incredible feat in an industry that most people dedicate their entire lives to without even experiencing anything close to his level of success.
While his rise to the top of Hollywood took a little longer, the 47 year-old has since firmly cemented his reputation as one of the most popular stars in the business, and is one of the few marquee names capable of opening a movie based on their reputation and box office appeal alone in a time where franchises and recognizable brands are increasingly the main draw for audiences.
The Jumanji and Fast and Furious star is famous for his incredible drive and work ethic, and has never faced a challenge that he didn’t think he could overcome. However, in a recent Q&A session on social media, Johnson admitted that his decision to leave the wrestling business in an attempt to try and conquer the big screen filled him with nerves because his previous accomplishments meant nothing, and he was worried about the potential longevity of his movie career.
“I knew then as I was transitioning when I was 29 making The Scorpion King, I knew then that in order for me to be a good actor and have a career that had real longevity, and not just in it for 2-3 years, become this hot new actor, make a couple of action movies, maybe a comedy or two and then disappear, I didn’t want that.”
Many pro wrestlers have attempted to make the jump to Hollywood and failed – although Dave Bautista and John Cena have pulled it off in recent years – and Johnson knew that being one of the most famous faces in a different business didn’t mean a thing when it came to building an entirely new career.
“I wanted to have a real, long-lasting career that had weight and had value. And I wanted to become a real box office presence. I wanted to have a real box office cache. And I wanted to be the number one man in the world of Hollywood, in terms of box office draw. That was my goal at 29 years old, and I was prepared to work my ass off but I also knew, I gave myself a 10-12 year plan, but life is so unpredictable. I was really nervous because I also knew historically, it didn’t matter. Whoever was successful in another arena, just because you were a successful professional wrestler did not mean, in any uncertain terms, that you were gonna become a box office draw or a legitimate movie star. There were no guarantees.”
Dwayne Johnson is now the highest-paid actor on the planet, takes a very hands-on role in the development and execution of all his projects as a producer, and has a track record of box office success that’s the envy of the majority of his contemporaries. Having now been an actor for over three times as long as he was a wrestler, it would be fair to say that he’s met his targets and then some.