Dwayne Johnson Reveals Why He Was So Nervous To Switch From Wrestling To Acting In Hollywood

Dwayne Johnson in Jumanji: the Next Level
(Image credit: (Sony))

These days, it almost seems like Dwayne Johnson’s WWE wrestling career happened in another life. From his roles in the Jumanji and Fast and the Furious franchises, to his upcoming debut into the DCEU with Black Adam, he’s made a career for himself that transcends his title of “The Rock” he received when he first entered the ring. Now the actor is reflecting back on how he got here.

More celebrities are utilizing Instagram more than ever, sometimes eliciting a negative reaction from fans as they sit bored in their expensive houses. But Dwayne Johnson is answering fan questions about how he came to work in Hollywood. When asked if he was nervous about breaking into the movie industry, The Rock said he certainly was. Before hitting 30, he looked around at his career and he felt like he’d accomplished everything he set out to do in the world of professional wrestling. But he noticed what he really loved about his high-profile job was entertaining and connecting with people in an intimate way. He decided to set his sights high on acting. In Johnson's words:

… Even though I wrestled for 20-50,000 people, I wanted it to feel intimate and the connection to feel real. So, I found my power space in professional wrestling and when I had a goal to transition into acting, 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 to 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.

Dwayne Johnson didn’t just want to be any actor, he wanted to create a long-lasting career for himself. He realized that his WWE career wouldn’t make it any easier to transition into Hollywood. He’d never seen a guy like him make it in the kind of big-budget films he regularly stars in today, but he still had a specific vision for where he wanted to journey to take him. Johnson continued to his Instagram followers with this:

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 #1 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.

His first major role in The Scorpion King was a moderate box office success, but Dwayne Johnson detailed that he wasn’t being himself at the time. He was encouraged to shave off some of his WWE weight and fit in the mold of other talents around him. He believes he made some entertaining movies at the time, but he could see an expiration date on his career if he didn’t make changes. So he said he actually started over with his staff and started reaching for higher levels around 2010.

The actor has certainly created an impressive career for himself, all while redefining what the Hollywood movie star can be. After changing his attitude and embracing his roots, Dwayne Johnson made his more memorable films such as playing Maui in Moana, Hobbs in the Fast & Furious movies and Smolder Bravestone in the Jumanji films with his pal Kevin Hart.

Next he’ll star in Disney’s Jungle Cruise alongside Emily Blunt, and he’s working on Netflix’s Red Notice with Gal Gadot and Ryan Reynolds.

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.