Dwanye “The Rock” Johnson has been a household name since his days as a professional wrestler. Johnson has since gone on to appear in a number of movies and TV shows, including That ‘70s Show, Star Trek: Voyager, and, more recently on the HBO's Ballers. Naturally, his level of fame and name recognition has grown over the years. Recently, Johnson revealed that he was becoming a jerk because of it, had a moment of clarity, and made the decision to be a nice guy.
Dwayne Johnson has been answering a lot of fan questions lately via Instagram. Johnson, who has always been willing to entertain fans, admitted recently that he didn’t always feel that way. He was asked whether he loves or hates fame and his first response was that being famous was a “tricky thing” to navigate. There were pros and cons, of course. Johnson then proceeded to share a story regarding a fan encounter from his WWE days that changed his behavior for the better. Here’s what he had to say:
Back then [in 1998, 1999], I saw this couple [at a restaurant] getting ready to come over. They finally came over. They worked themselves up to come over to ask me for a picture. They come up, and they were so nice. I’ll never forget it because this moment became my teachable moment and a great lesson that I took with me for life. And I’m so grateful it happened. And I thank this couple, by the way. They probably had no idea that they were part of a defining moment of my life. So they came over and they were so nice. They said, ‘I’m so sorry. We’re so sorry. Can we please have your autograph and a picture? So sorry.’ Of course I said yes, but how I said yes was a psychological play, like I was playing chess, because I said yes, but in a way that made them feel bad. So I said ‘...Sure. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Come on. Sit down.’ And in that moment, their demeanor changed, their energy changed. They went from excited, and ‘sorry’ but really excited, to then they felt bad. I have goosebumps now thinking about it.
It sounds like the moment really impacted Dwayne Johnson’s outlook on fame and his reactions to fans approaching him. It can understandably be stressful and even awkward when celebrities are approached outside of their jobs. In that particular moment, however, Johnson realized that he’d tainted the experience for this couple and it made him realize how much of a jerk move that was. He continued, saying:
They said, ‘We’re so sorry. You know what? Bad idea.’ The wife is hitting the husband. ‘See? I told you we shouldn’t come over.’ And I said, ‘No, no, no, it’s okay. Come on, sit down.’ They were like, ‘Oh, so sorry.’ So they sit down, we take a picture, and I sign their menus. They walk off. As they’re walking off, they’re walking off backwards and saying, ‘We’re so sorry, we’re so sorry.’ I said, ‘It’s okay, it’s okay.’ They sit down. It took all of 30 seconds, not even 30 seconds, for me to realize that I had an opportunity to make somebody feel good, and I made them feel bad. And what an asshole that made me. And what an asshole, rightfully so, that made me feel like.
Dwayne Johnson then decided to put himself in the fans’ shoes and walked through the scenario in his head, playing out exactly how he would react had he been in the same position. Here’s how he explains it:
And we did a little exercise at the table. I’ll never forget it. The exercise was, ‘Well, let me put myself in their position. Let me put myself in a fan’s position when I walk into a room.’ So I did this little exercise at the table and I walked through it. And walking through it really helped me. … After that, I told myself I would never ever make anyone feel bad again for coming up to me.
It was a teaching moment for the Black Adam star. The encounter changed the way he looked at these fan experiences. In fact, he jokes that meeting and signing things for fans is the “easiest part of my job.” And so, while his fame has grown exponentially over the years, Dwayne Johnson no longer takes his fame and fan encounters for granted. You can check out the full video below.