From the wrestling ring to the red carpet and movie screens, Dwayne Johnson has now been in the limelight for 25 years. Over the decades, he’s evolved from the WWF’s The Rock into a bona fide Hollywood action star — and one of the highest paid actors working today. To celebrate the debut of “Young Rock” — the new NBC sitcom inspired by his unconventional early life as the often-in-trouble and quick-to-mature son in a wrestling family (he’s seen here in the first episode before the show revisits his youth) — Wonderwall.com is taking a look back at The Rock’s life in pictures. Keep reading to start his photo flashback…
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Dwayne Douglas Johnson was born on May 2, 1972, to Ata and Rocky Johnson in Hayward, California. Although he’s from a family of wrestlers — both his dad and his maternal grandfather made careers of the sport — Dwayne pursued a different hobby in high school. He was a football star, and his athletic prowess got him a full scholarship to Florida’s University of Miami. Before The Rock snagged any belts with The People’s Elbow, he was winning titles of a different kind. Dwayne was No. 94 on the University of Miami’s 1991 Hurricanes football team, which took home a national championship win. (He’s seen here playing on Jan. 1, 1992.) After college, he briefly played in the Canadian Football League, but when he was cut, he decided to give the family business a shot.
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Upon joining the WWF in 1996, Dwayne Johnson became its first third-generation wrestler and won the WWF Intercontinental Championship after just three months in the business. The Rock went on to become one of the brand’s biggest stars, winning 16 championships over the course of his career.
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Dwayne Johnson played his father, wrestling great Rocky Johnson, on an episode of FOX’s hit sitcom “That ’70s Show” in 1999. He’s seen here in character with the series’ star, Topher Grace.
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In January 2000, Dwayne Johnson released his autobiography, “The Rock Says…,” which debuted at No. 1 on The New York Times bestsellers list. He (and his signature raised eyebrow) are seen here at a New York City book signing the day after it came out.
Dwayne Johnson struck his signature raised-eyebrow pose backstage at the Nickelodeon’s Kids’ Choice Awards in April 2001.
Dwayne Johnson first graced the big screen as the Scorpion King at the end of 2001’s “The Mummy Returns.” While the small part was a big career step, his personal life was even more momentous that year. He and Dany Garcia — his then-wife and college sweetheart — welcomed their daughter, Simone Alexandra, into the world! The couple are seen here at the premiere of “the Mummy Returns” in April 2001.
Dwayne Johnson landed his first leading role in 2002, starring as Mathayus in “The Scorpion King.” For his breakout performance, The Rock earned $5.5 million, landing him a spot in the “Guinness Book of World Records” for the largest salary ever paid to an actor in his first starring role.
After breaking into Hollywood as a buff, brawny action star, Dwayne Johnson sidestepped into more family-friendly territory in 2007. The Rock embraced his athletic side, playing an NFL quarterback-turned-single dad in Disney’s “The Game Plan” alongside child star Madison Pettis. The role widened his appeal, setting the stage for more kid-friendly fare.
Dwayne Johnson’s performances might not have been winning him any awards, but the entertainer had the chance to take the stage at the 80th Academy Awards in 2008. He donned a tux and bow tie to present the Oscar for best visual effects.
In 2007 after 10 years of marriage, Dwayne Johnson and Dany Garcia announced their split. But the exes — seen here at the 2006 premiere of his film “Gridiron Gang” less than a year before their breakup — didn’t completely end their relationship. The Rock made Dany — who for years advised him as she worked in finance and had climbed the ladder at Merrill Lynch — his manager. She also runs his production company. “One of the things I wanted to do in assisting DJ was to make sure we approached all our films from a business-oriented point of view. I knew he would crush the creative. But I was always looking at it from the point of view of, ‘How will this work within an enterprise model?’ That carried over to Dwayne, looking at him as this incredibly talented individual, and saying, ‘Now, how do I build a corporation around him? How do I support him? Where is the marketing? Where are our extensions? Who are the partners who can help me duplicate?’ It’s like at Apple, except the technology is Dwayne Johnson,” Dany told Marie Claire years later of their ongoing, albeit non-romantic, partnership.
Dwayne Johnson delivered another family-friendly film in 2010 when he played a pro hockey player who’s turned into the tutu-wearing winged titular character in 2010’s “Tooth Fairy.” Though many critics gave the movie, which co-stars Stephen Merchant and Julie Andrews, negative reviews, audiences loved it and turned it into a box office success that grossed nearly $112,000 million worldwide.
You can take the kid out of WrestleMania, but you can’t take WrestleMania out of the kid. In 2011, The Rock returned to the ring, appearing on “Raw” for the first time in seven years. The former wrestling star hosted WrestleMania XXVII that April during which rival John Cena challenged him to a match. The Rock accepted, and the two (seen here at the event’s press conference that March) were set to face off in the following year’s WrestleMania event.
The following year, Dwayne Johnson joined the cast of “The Fast and the Furious” as Diplomatic Security Service Agent Luke Hobbs for the series’ 2011 installment, “Fast Five.” It became the most successful film of the franchise at the time, grossing more than $626 million worldwide, though it was later surpassed by its future sequels “Fast & Furious 6” ($788.7 million) and “Furious 7” ($1.5 billion). Dwayne also reprised his role in “The Fate of the Furious” in 2017.
In April 2012, the day finally came for The Rock to return to the main stage of WrestleMania. The entertainer also known as Dwayne Johnson took to the ring in WrestleMania XXVlll to face John Cena in the main event, which saw him defeat John with his trademark Rock Bottom move, proving he was still a force to be reckoned with.
Fresh off his WrestleMania win, Dwayne Johnson was back on set filming “Pain and Gain” in Miami in April 2012. For the action movie with Mark Wahlberg, he was able to marry his athletic past — and wrestler’s build — with his acting ambition, playing a bodybuilder caught in an extortion plot. The same year he made that film, he founded a production company with ex-wife and manager Dany Garcia, Seven Bucks Productions. The name is a nod to how much cash Dwayne had in his pocket after he was released from the Canadian Football League in 1995.
Having joined the “Fast & Furious” franchise in 2011 — and injecting some much-needed life into the series — Dwayne Johnson was back on the big screen in 2013 for “Fast & Furious 6” (seen here). That same year, while filming “Furious 7,” Dwayne’s friend and co-star Paul Walker (right) was tragically killed in a car crash. Dwayne recalled the terrible moment he heard the news: “I was driving with [my girlfriend] Lauren [Hashian] when she immediately turned very quiet and was looking at me, studying, wondering if I knew,” he told The Hollywood Reporter.
In 2014, Dwayne Johnson played the titular role in “Hercules,” and oh boy, did he bulk up for the part! While preparing to shoot the movie, the actor shared regular updates on his workout routine and provided insight into the crazy diet that helped him transform his body into that of a demigod. As he explained to Bodybuilding.com, “For ‘Hercules,’ it was a 22-week diet, full-on. I’d eat a bunch of egg whites, filet mignon, chicken, fish, oatmeal, broccoli, asparagus, a baked potato, cream of rice, salad and complex carbs. All of this measured and weighed.” Now that’s what you call a Herculean effort!
In May 2015, Dwayne Johnson’s contributions to the entertainment industry were recognized when he was honored with a hand and footprint ceremony at Hollywood’s famed TCL Chinese Theater — and he brought along his proud parents, Ata Johnson and famed wrestler Rocky Johnson (Rocky passed away nearly five years later in January 2020). Dwayne also appeared on the big screen in two huge blockbuster movies in 2015, “Furious 7” and “San Andreas.” It’s also the year he launched a successful TV show on HBO…
In June 2015, Dwayne Johnson’s show “Ballers” debuted on HBO. The series, in which he played a retired NFL player-turned-financial manager, ran for five seasons before wrapping in October 2019. The Rock and ex-wife Dany Garcia co-produced the show through their Seven Becks Entertainment banner.
In 2016, Dwayne Johnson started shooting the 2017 “Baywatch” movie, which saw him stepping into the role of lifeguard Mitch Buchannon — who was famously played by David Hasselhoff on the TV series — opposite Zac Efron as bad-boy Olympic swimmer Matt Brody. The Rock also had two other movies come out in 2016: “Central Intelligence” hit theaters that June while he lent his voice to an animated blockbuster that was released that November (more on that one in a moment). 2016 is also the year he launched a lucrative partnership with footwear and athletic apparel brand Under Armour.
Dwayne Johnson voiced demigod Maui in the hit Disney animated film “Moana” in November 2016. He also showed off his vocal chops in the wildly successful movie (“You’re Welcome,” anyone?).
In his never-ending quest to dominate the box office, Dwayne Johnson starred in the eighth installment of the “Fast & Furious” franchise — “The Fate of the Furious” — which exploded at the international box office in April 2017 (he’s seen here at its New York City premiere that same month). Though it was unable to beat the astronomical domestic opening of “Fast 7,” it emerged as the biggest international hit of the franchise in its first week: With a $532 million worldwide haul during that opening weekend, “Fast 8” officially had the biggest global opening of any film ever at the time! Can YOU smell what The Rock is cooking?!
Dwayne Johnson became a father again in December 2015 when longtime girlfriend Lauren Hashian gave birth to daughter Jasmine Lia. Two years later in December 2017 — the same month he posed with Jasmine at his Hollywood Walk of Fame star ceremony (seen here) — the action star announced that he and Lauren were expecting their second child together.
Dwayne Johnson breathed new life into the classic tale “Jumanji” with the December 2017 reboot “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.” The actor played Dr. Smolder Bravestone in the action flick, which was a smash at the box office. It was the fifth highest grossing film of 2017 — eight spots behind his other blockbuster hit that year, “The Fate of the Furious.” The reimagined remake earned more than $962 million worldwide and became the 40th highest grossing film of all time.
Dwayne Johnson and Lauren Hashian debuted her second baby bump at the “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” premiere in Los Angeles in December 2017. Daughter Tiana Gia arrived in April 2018. A little more than a year later, The Rock and Lauren — a singer whose father played drums for the band Boston — tied the knot in a small ceremony in Hawaii.
Dwayne Johnson was elated when his eldest daughter, Simone Johnson, was selected to be the Golden Globe Ambassador (previously known as Miss Golden Globe) at the 2018 Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills. Two years later, Simone made her dad proud again when she confirmed that she was, at 18, following in his footsteps: She started training to become a WWE Superstar at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida. The move makes her the first fourth-generation Superstar in WWE history: Both her maternal great-grandfather, Peter Maivia, and paternal grandfather, Rocky Johnson, are WWE Hall of Famers.
Dwayne Johnson continued his reign as the second highest paid actor in the world into 2018. That year, he starred in two more massive action flicks — April’s “Rampage” and July’s “Skyscraper” (he’s seen here at that flick’s New York City premiere) — and continued to star on his hit HBO show, “Ballers,” which would end the following year.
In 2019, Time magazine selected Dwayne Johnson as one of its 100 most influential people of the year. He was selected along with other actors, athletes and entrepreneurs, and his “Fast & Furious” and “Red Notice” co-star Gal Gadot gave him a glowing write-up in the annual issue, noting: “Dwayne is someone who believes the sky is the limit and will go above and beyond to make sure he gives 100 percent every single day, whether he is at the gym, working with his charity (the Dwayne Johnson Rock Foundation), being with his family and friends, or working on a new project.”
Dwayne Johnson’s icon status was cemented in June 2019 when he was presented with the Generation Award during the MTV Movie & TV Awards. The prize is handed out to the household names the network believes have provided diverse contributions to film and TV, so The Rock was a perfect choice. During his moving and inspirational speech, Dwayne told young viewers to be their “most authentic self.”
Dwayne Johnson returned to the big screen to play Diplomatic Security Service Agent Luke Hobbs for a fifth time in August 2019, starring alongside Jason Statham in “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw.” This time, the story got more personal for The Rock — who’s proudly half Samoan — as part of the action took place in Samoa. He even made the film a family affair, as his real-life cousin, fellow wrestler Roman Reigns (seen here at the film’s Hollywood premiere), scored a part playing one of Hobbs’ brothers.
Dwayne Johnson’s December 2019 blockbuster “Jumanji: The Next Level” proved to be another huge hit. The sequel co-starring Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan and Jack Black was the 10th highest grossing film worldwide in 2019.
On Feb. 16, 2021, NBC debuted “Young Rock,” a sitcom based on Dwayne Johnson’s early years as a rambunctious little boy and misbehaving teen who eventually carves out a career in football before tackling the wrestling world like his father (the late wrestling star Rocky Johnson), maternal grandfather (wrestler Peter Maivia, also known as the Flying Hawaiian) and maternal grandmother (Lia Maivia, one of the first female wrestling promoters).
Up next for Dwayne Johnson? The Rock stars alongside Emily Blunt (seen here at Disney’s D23 EXPO in Anaheim, California, in August 2019) in the Mouse House’s “Jungle Cruise,” which saw its release date moved from July 2020 to July 2021 due to the global coronavirus pandemic. He’ll also appear in Netflix’s “Red Notice” co-starring Gal Gadot and Ryan Reynolds in 2021 and after that will play the titular character in the DC Extended Universe superhero flick “Black Adam.”
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