As a sleek black Range Rover rolls through the Walt Disney studio lot, a workman outside a soundstage catches his buddy’s attention, jerking his head toward the car. “Hey,” he says, about to announce a celebrity sighting in that oh-so-LA-casual way. “That was The Rock.” “It’s not ‘The Rock’ anymore,” replies the friend condescendingly. “It’s Dwayne Johnson.”
Told of the exchange while heading into a recording facility to dub dialogue for his latest adventure film, Race to Witch Mountain, Dwayne Johnson chuckles. No more than 20 minutes earlier, he’d been explaining his thoughts about phasing out the World Wrestling Entertainment name with which he first became famous.
“I knew eventually I was going to be billed as ‘Dwayne Johnson,’ but we did it gradually,” he recounts later over lunch. “It felt right to me because The Rock was a character I loved….I thought, ‘If I’m going to get to “Dwayne Johnson,” we’ll just let it happen naturally.’
“People ask if I mind if they call me The Rock,” he adds with a flash of his trademark grin. “There’s no visceral reaction for me that ‘No, you can’t.’ The Rock is a nickname, and people call me that all the time, and it’s fine. It’s a damn cool nickname, too.” – SCOTT HUVER