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   Tue, September 23, 2003



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Solid as a Rock
By LOUIS B. HOBSON, CALGARY SUN


The leader eventually swings from his tree and attaches himself to Johnson.

EXCITED CO-STARS

"All those monkeys were pretty horny and they all seemed to have a thing for me, but there was this one teenager who got particularly excited each time I walked on set. It was disconcerting to say the least. It's more affection than I've ever wanted from a fan," says Johnson.

Don't get him wrong, Johnson loves his fans especially his legion of wrestling fans who he readily admits made him a superstar.

"If I hadn't become The Rock, I wouldn't be making movies. It was The Rock who turned my life around and that's why I'm not about to ditch the name any time soon."

Unlike many wrestling stars, Johnson owns his wrestling persona. Vince McMahon, chairman of World Wrestling Entertainment turned The Rock over to Johnson. In return, McMahon becomes an executive producer on all Johnson's films.

It was through The Rock that Johnson was able to find a positive outlet for his aggression.

"I'm a guy who comes from a background that is very confrontational and visceral. From the time I was 13, I always seemed to be getting into fights. As I grew older the fights turned into assaults. It was really embarrassing for my family."

SPECIAL AGENT ROCK?

Johnson was determined to be the first person in his family to graduate from college and realized that dream by getting a full football scholarship to the University of Miami.

"I studied criminology because I wanted to be a secret service agent. I wasn't a good student. I cheated on most of my exams ... "

Johnson would likely have become a secret service agent except for one thing.

"It wasn't until my junior year that I finally asked what kind of salary I could expect. When I learned I'd only be making about $55,000 a year and putting my life at risk, I knew it wasn't the life or career for me."

The Rock was a more natural fit for Johnson.

"The Rock was easy to play because he is essentially Dwayne Johnson with the volume turned way, way up."

Johnson doesn't wrestle any more, but he insists his heart will always be in the ring.

His heart also belongs to his college sweetheart who he married. He and Dany Garcia have a daughter, Simone.

Johnson, whose father is Samoan and mother is African-American, is grateful that "The Rock is colour blind because that is an incredible advantage in the entertainment business. I can be anything from the black guy or the Samoan guy to the Greek or Italian. People don't see colour or nationality when they look at me."

People will be seeing a great deal more of The Rock. Universal Pictures, who bankrolled The Scorpion King and The Rundown, are developing three movies for Johnson while almost every other major studio is sending him projects.

"I'd really like to do a sequel to The Rundown."