It’s no secret that basically everyone on earth loves Dwayne Johnson, the wrestler turned actor with the mega-watt smile and infectious enthusiasm for just about everything. When he was wrestling under his stage name, The Rock, he earned a ton of fans. Then, despite having a successful career in sports, he decided to pivot and head to the entertainment industry. Turns out, he’s an even bigger star as an actor than he was as an athlete – he was the highest paid actor last year, and was also crowned People’s sexiest man alive. Oh, and you probably saw his grinning face and gun show on the cover of the latest issue of GQ. So, yeah – things are going pretty well for Dwayne Johnson.
One of the reasons the superstar is so successful is because, well, he doesn’t act like a superstar. He’s always kind and excited to chat with everyone, from random strangers to A-List celebrities, and he brings a passion to his work that not many have. He knows how to hustle – and he knows he’s lucky to be living his dream.
So, if you’re just as obsessed with Dwayne Johnson as the rest of us, here’s 15 things you may not have known about the star.
15 He played football in college
Unlike some other celebrities who came from families involved in the entertainment industry, or families who were financially quite secure, Dwayne Johnson had a rockier upbringing. He lived with his mom and didn’t exactly grow up with a silver spoon, so when he reached his teenage years and the family started facing eviction, he decided to step up in the only way he knew how – by becoming a man, and becoming both physically and mentally strong. His training paid off, because he ended up getting a football scholarship to the University of Miami. The reason he pursued athletics so passionately as a teen was because he knew that it was one of the only ways he’d be able to get to college and add that to his list of achievements – so he rolled up his sleeves and worked hard, just as he does today. The secret to his success is simply good old fashioned grinding.
14 Wrestling runs in the family
If you thought that Dwayne Johnson just decided to make the move from football to wrestling because he already had a strong enough physique and figured it’d be fun, you’d be wrong. It turns out, the sport runs in his blood – he’s a third generation wrestler! His grandfather, Peter Maivia, was a famous wrestler, and his father, Rocky Johnson, also made it big in the world of wrestling. Johnson also had cousins and uncles involved in wrestling, so it’s safe to say that the world expected a lot of him when he first stepped into that ring. However, he really didn’t have anything to worry about – not only did he live up to his family’s wrestling legacy, most would argue he far surpassed them and became an absolute superstar. There are several wrestlers out there who got into the sport because their family had been involved, but there are none quite like Dwayne Johnson.
13 He lost his virginity at 14 to an older woman
When it comes to his love life, Dwayne Johnson isn’t too crazy. In fact, most would argue that he’s the definition of a one woman man. For about a decade, he was married to Dany Garcia, and then right after that, he got into a relationship with Lauren Hashian, who he’s been with for another decade. So, as long as he’s been famous, he’s never really played the dating game. However, that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t know how to handle the ladies. In his memoir, Johnson detailed his first ever R-rated encounter with the opposite sex, and revealed to the world that he lost his virginity when he was just fourteen years old to an older woman – an eighteen year old named Maria. It makes sense – even as a teenager, Johnson basically looked like a buff, fully grown man. The full story is pretty wild, but we’ll let you check out his memoir for all those juicy details.
12 He made his acting debut on That ‘70s Show – in an interesting role
Everyone knows that Dwayne Johnson’s big screen debut came when he played the buff Scorpion King inThe Mummy, but that wasn’t the first time he was on a set in Hollywood. Before that, in 1999, Johnson appeared in an episode of That ‘70s Show playing Rocky Johnson. That’s right – he made his television debut playing the character of his father. Crazy, huh? Luckily, he’s far evolved from those early roles – he’s a big enough star that he could easily do a cameo as himself in a television show now! Plus, the fact that he’s an A-List actor with a gigantic fan base means he gets offered tons of interesting roles, from comedic ones to serious flicks where he plays tough figures of authority. Seriously – Johnson has excelled at just about every role he’s taken on so far, so really, the opportunities are limitless. Maybe one day he’ll even throw it back to his early days and play a character whose family is involved in the wrestling world.
11 He holds the record for the highest salary for a debut starring role
When Dwayne Johnson got the gig playing the Scorpion King in The Mummy, he likely thought it was just a minor role – and yes, he didn’t exactly have a ton of screen time in that flick. However, audiences loved him so much that he got his own spin-off film, The Scorpion King. And for that starring role, Johnson got a whopping $5.5 million. Now, it may not seem like much in comparison to the types of salaries he commands today – but it was actually quite the paycheck. In fact, Johnson holds a Guinness World Record for the highest paycheck earned by an actor in their first starring role. That’s right – he was breaking records like a champion from the very beginning! We imagine getting that kind of salary to start out probably gives you a pretty good confidence boost going forward in your acting career.
10 His classmates used to think he was a cop
Okay, we feel like Dwayne Johnson should do a movie about his younger years in the same way Channing Tatum made a flick about his time as a stripper, because it’s just too unbelievable. As anyone who has seen Dwayne Johnson knows, he’s a pretty big dude – and that’s not just a recent development. Sure, his gruelling workout regimen means he’s bulked up even more over the years, but as a high school student he was already 6’4 and 225 pounds of lean muscle. In fact, his size was so different than his average classmates that many people avoided him altogether because they thought he was an undercover cop. See? It’s totally the plotline of a box office smash hit. That struggle led to fights, which led to him expelled from four high schools by the age of 16. It’s tough to imagine, given what a lovable giant he is today.
9 He was in a teenage theft ring
We swear, you can’t make this kind of thing up. So, nowadays, Dwayne Johnson is a successful movie star who doesn’t really need to worry about where his next paycheck is coming from. However, when he was a teen, things were a little bit different – and he was using that brain for less than ideal pursuits rather than to come up with blockbuster flicks. He was in a theft ring that targeting tourists visiting Hawaii, and as a result, was arrested a staggering nine times before the age of 17. As Johnson describes it, “there are a lot of tourists that come into Waikiki and there’s a lot of money. A lot of foreign money that comes in, and we were part of a theft ring that would target those groups. We would target the money, we would target the high-end clothes and we would target the jewellery – turn around and sell it, best we could.” Seriously, how many lives has this guy lived?!
8 He has a ‘private gym’ in a sketchy ‘hood
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that Dwayne Johnson trains – a lot. Like, an insane amount. He probably out-trains many professional athletes out there, that’s how dedicated he is to his fitness. However, if you imagine Johnson in a gleaming, sparkly, all-new facility, you’d be totally wrong. When a writer profiled him for a GQ piece, she came along to see his “private gym” in California — and it’s apparently in an absolutely awful neighbourhood. As in, Johnson wouldn’t even let her drive to meet him there, they drove together so that she wouldn’t be finding the spot alone. It just goes to prove that, despite his enormous fame, he still isn’t a diva – rather than trying to capture the paparazzi’s attention after every workout session, he just wants a place where he can go and focus on getting his sweat on. You’ve got to respect that level of dedication.
7 His Under Armour collab was a huge success
Given how aligned with fitness he is, it came as no surprise when Under Armour tapped Johnson to collaborate with them on a line. It made total sense. However, their previous collaborations or celebrity endorsements have featured huge athletes like Tom Brady and Steph Curry — so some may have questioned how he would measure up in comparison. Well, anyone that was worried Johnson’s collab would be a bust was dead wrong. His Project Rock line ended up being one of the best-selling lines Under Armour had in the year it debuted, and anytime he comes out with a new Project Rock product, the public goes absolutely nuts. They want to wear what the Rock is wearing and endorsing. Maybe they all feel like if they rock the gear he’s rocking, they’ll transform into total beasts in the gym, just like Dwayne Johnson. I mean, who wouldn’t want that? It’s no wonder his gear is so popular.
6 He has a piano once owned by Benjamin Franklin
You wouldn’t think of Dwayne Johnson as a historical buff, but it turns out that owning a piece of history comes along with accumulating property, which Johnson has been doing for the past few years. While his main residence is in Florida, he also has a farm property in Virginia where he keeps horses (seriously – this man has so many sides! Who would have imagined Johnson would be the type to love rural horseback riding?). When he bought his Virginia property, it came with a piano that was once owned by Benjamin Franklin. Uh… where do we sign up for sweet property perks like that? Not only did he snag a great chunk of land out in the country to relax if Hollywood ever gets too crazy, he also snagged a little piece of history. Not bad, Mr. Johnson. Now the question is, has he learned to tickle the ivories, or does it simply remain a show piece?
5 He is a rare genetic mix
If you don’t know anything about Dwayne Johnson, you’d have a really tough time pinpointing his background. His perfectly caramel skin and handsome features don’t really give you much of a clue. And it turns out, he’s even more rare than you may have imagined. For those who don’t know, Johnson is half African-American and half Samoan. It may seem like just another mixture, but it turns out that less than 0.1% of the U.S. population can check the “Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander” and “Black or African American” box on the census. There are many actors in Hollywood who can check one of those two boxes, but none that can check both – which is just another thing that sets Dwayne Johnson apart from everyone else. It’s no wonder he’s so universally inspiring and beloved – he’s so unique that everyone can find a little bit of themselves in him.
4 He struggled with depression
Okay, let’s just be honest about something - Dwayne Johnson seems like one of the happiest people on the planet. He is literally almost always smiling and joking and just being an all around jolly guy. He makes every situation fun, loves his fans, and seems to be thoroughly enjoying the perks that his hustling over the years has granted him. However, that wasn’t always his reality. Once upon a time, Johnson has admitted, he seriously struggled with depression. As he’s described it, “I didn’t want to do a thing. I didn’t want to go anywhere. I was crying constantly.” It’s tough to imagine the guy with the megawatt grin being in such a dark place, but it just goes to prove that even the best of us can face mental health issues. And, Johnson has never bothered to hide those darker times in his life – he’s honest and open about them because he knows that sometimes your story can help inspire someone else.
3 He wakes up at 4 am - every single day
When it comes to crafting a chiselled physique, there are several elements that come into play. Everyone naturally has a different type of body, and putting on muscle is without question harder for some people than others. However, at the end of the day, a lot of it just comes down to hard work – and Dwayne Johnson definitely knows how to do that. Something that you might know if you downloaded his alarm clock app is that Johnson wakes up at 4 am – every single day. Sure, he may have the occasional sleep-in, but for the most part, he’s up grinding in the gym while most of the world is still sleeping. And he’s passionate about it, stating in an Instagram caption that there’s “no magic formula or secret to success. I’m up at 4am daily and puttin’ in the hard work that I already know my competition is not willin’ to do.”
2 He has duel citizenship
Nowdays, you’re most likely to see Dwayne Johnson hanging out in Hollywood or on the set of his latest film. However, besides America, there’s another nation he could call home if he wanted to – Canada. You see, Johnson’s father is Canadian, so though Johnson was born in California he has dual citizenship. He travelled the world a bit when he was younger, spending some time in New Zealand getting in touch with his roots before spending time in Pennsylvania and Hawaii. When he was pursuing a career in football, he even spent a short period of time with the Calgary Stampeders playing in the Canadian Football League. There’s a stereotype about Canadians being overly kind, which if you think about Dwayne Johnson, totally fits. We knew he got it from somewhere! So, while Canucks can’t necessarily claim Johnson solely as their own, it turns out he’s got more roots to America’s northern neighbours than you may have guessed.
1 He holds a selfie-related world record
We’ve already brought up the fact that Dwayne Johnson has a world record for his debut starring actor paycheck from The Scorpion King, but did you know that he actually holds two Guinness World Records? And, it turns out, neither of them have anything to do with fitness. The ever-friendly Dwayne Johnson challenged himself to go on a selfie spree during the premiere of his flick San Andreas in London, so alongside many eager fans, he ended up taking 105 selfies within the span of three minutes, and consequently setting a world record. It’s a bizarre record to have, but hey, who knows – maybe Dwayne Johnson will try to go for some more selfie-centric records in order to please his fans and get his name in that book a few more times. After all, most celebrities take countless pictures with fans anyway, he may as well get a little bit of recognition for it!