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Hard life doesn't crush The Rock
By LOUIS B. HOBSON - SUN MEDIA
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Life hasn't exactly been a walk in the park for Dwayne Johnson. Before he morphed into wrestling superstar The Rock, Johnson struggled through the school of hard knocks.

"There were times I didn't know where my next meal was coming from. It's a place I never want to go back to," says Johnson, 31, who's put his wrestling life on hold to work on his acting career.

"I know it seems like I want it all but if you've ever been really hungry, you're never full."

What he has now are more movie offers than he can handle.

Fresh off the action comedy The Rundown, Johnson filmed Walking Tall, a fifth film inspired by the life of Tennessee sheriff Buford Pusser who cleaned up the backwoods McNally County wielding only a massive wooden club.

'FRONTIER JUSTICE'

"I jumped at the chance to do this movie because I grew up watching films like Billy Jack, Walking Tall and all those Clint Eastwood and Charles Bronson movies about the little guy who takes on a corrupt establishment," Johnson says.

"It's all about old-fashioned frontier justice and I think we still respond to that in movies."

The real Buford Pusser tangled with his moonshiners and mobsters back in the 1950s.

"He didn't clean up his town's mess nearly as easily as I clean up mine in the new Walking Tall.

"He was shot eight times, stabbed six times and run over once but he kept striking back until he was killed in a car accident. It's pretty well accepted it was a revenge killing."

Johnson got to meet with Pusser's daughter who he says "is thrilled with the new movie. She's very proud of her legacy. She was 13 when she pulled her dad out of that car wreck and tried to revive him."

The original intent for Walking Tall was to make it as powerful and graphic as possible.

"What we ended up with was a hard R picture which proved too rough for the studio (MGM) so it's been drastically trimmed back for a more general audience.

"I think they feared an R-rated picture would alienate my fan base but the film we originally shot will be on the DVD."

For Walking Tall, Johnson lost weight and actually toned down.

"My guy is a soldier, not a wrestler. I wanted him to have the appropriate body definition."

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  • Order The Rock 'The People's Champ' DVD