2016 was a great year for Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and it’s ending in style too as he is featured on this week’s double issue of Sports Illustrated with the cover line, “Dwayne Johnson Owns Hollywood: How Football Helped Create the Ultimate Baller.”
SI’s Senior Writer Alan Shipnuck digs deep with Johnson about his past football career and how failing to make it to the NFL forced him into wrestling, which sent him down his path to stardom. SI spoke to everyone including Michael Strahan, business manager Danny Garcia and his former football coach at LSU Ed Orgeron among others. SI explores Johnson’s ventures and Hollywood success and Johnson opens up about his relatable life experience through his character on HBO’s Ballers as well as what his future holds.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE SI COVER STORY:
Johnson opens up to SI about the time he realized football was his chance to make a difference: “I fell in love with the game..it was more than that, actually. It gave my life a purpose. Coach Cwik sat me down and said, ‘Listen, your family doesn’t have any money. Your grades are average. If you’re going to get out of this town and make a different life for yourself, football is the vehicle.’ He explained how I could get a scholarship, and that was a whole shift in my psychology. Suddenly I had a chance to become the first person in my family to go to college. I became obsessed with making it.”
Johnson on how his failed football career set him up for stardom: “I’d always had a very specific vision of my future. I was going to be Michael Strahan: I would win a Super Bowl with the Giants. I’d have the beautiful wife, the big house . . . strangely, that house was in New Jersey. I think about it all the time: What if I had been a little better at football? Maybe I would’ve had that success and become complacent. But I didn’t get to walk away [from football] on my terms, and that lit a fire that still burns. I wanted that life I had envisioned, but I had to find another way.”
Johnson on comparing his failure of football to that of his mentor, actor Kurt Russell, who was a second baseman in the Angel’s minor league system: “So much of his drive comes from failing as a baseball player…he had one goal, to make it to the big leagues. We’ve had great philosophical conversations about how you make sense of your failures. And you know what the simple answer is? I was in the wrong game. And now I’m in the right one.”
Michael Strahan reacts to being Johnson’s longtime fantasy: “Man, I’d gladly trade lives with him right now! O.K., he didn’t quite have the football career he wanted, but most guys don’t. And those who do pay a steep price physically. I think it’s pretty clear Dwayne got the last laugh.”
Toby Emmerich, executive producer of this year’s Central Intelligence speaks to Johnson’s acting career: “Dwayne is now everyone’s first choice for any big role,” says Toby Emmerich, an executive producer of this year’s Central Intelligence, a spy caper in which Johnson sprays bullets and one-liners with equal aplomb alongside his little buddy Kevin Hart. “Maybe once in a generation you get a performer with this kind of versatility and range and likability. It’s rarified air. And for him to have come from a sports background? The odds of that happening are one in a hundred million. Every athlete in every sport wants to try to be an actor, but how many make it?”
This issue hits newsstands Thursday, December 1. You can see the cover of the magazine with The Rock below.
[ngg_images source=”galleries” container_ids=”5″ exclusions=”217,218,219,220,221,226,236,237,246,247,280,281,286,287,288,309,320,321,322,785,786,787,800,801,802,803,804,805,812,826,827,828,829,837,838,839,840,841,845,901,927,947,948,959,970,971,972,991,992,996,1002,1004,1005,1012,1013,1064,1065,1074,1075,1087,1095,1096,1121,1122,1123,1144,1195,1206,1207,1208,1209,1210,1221,1224,1225,1226,1227,1228,1229,1230,1231,1232,1233,1234,1235,1242,1243,1244,1245,1246,1247,1248,1249,1250,1275,1292,1294,1295,1296,1297,1298,1299,1300,1301,1313,1314,1315,1329″ display_type=”photocrati-nextgen_basic_thumbnails” override_thumbnail_settings=”0″ thumbnail_width=”100″ thumbnail_height=”75″ thumbnail_crop=”1″ images_per_page=”20″ number_of_columns=”0″ ajax_pagination=”1″ show_all_in_lightbox=”0″ use_imagebrowser_effect=”0″ show_slideshow_link=”0″ slideshow_link_text=”[Show as slideshow]” order_by=”sortorder” order_direction=”ASC” returns=”included” maximum_entity_count=”500″]