As the son of a professional wrestler, Dwayne Johnson had an unusual childhood that involved moving around often, which meant he frequently had to start over making friends.
Johnson, who is celebrating his 49th birthday Sunday, is Willie Geist’s Sunday Sitdown guest this week, and the superstar reflected on one memorable incident during his childhood involving a peer.
He recalled getting on the bus on the first day of fifth grade.
“I sit down next to a kid, and within 60 seconds, he goes, ‘Can I ask you something?'” he told Willie. “I said, ‘Yeah.’ He goes, ‘Are you a boy or a girl?'”
Johnson shared a surprised expression, but told Willie that that question had come up before.
“I would say between the ages of 7 and 11, people thought that I was a little girl because I had really soft features and I had really soft Afro hair,” said Johnson, who is half Black and half Samoan.
Now Johnson is finding humor in his childhood on the NBC sitcom “Young Rock,” which follows a young Dwayne who, like in real-life, is the son of a professional wrestler. By the time Johnson was in high school, he had lived in 13 states.
“I have had a Forrest Gump-ian childhood growing up,” Johnson said. “Wrestling in the ’80s and in the ’70s was way different than it is today. A lot of the times, including my father, the wrestlers would live paycheck to paycheck.”
After he won a national championship playing football for the University of Miami, Johnson decided to follow in his father’s footsteps. That’s when he became a WWE sensation known as The Rock.
While he was a star in the ring, effortlessly blending the physicality and acting that WWE fans love, Johnson had a brief breakout role in 2001’s “The Mummy Returns” that caught the attention of Hollywood. When he retired from wrestling in 2004 to pursue a movie career, Johnson said he knew he would have to prove himself.
“When I left wrestling and transitioned to Hollywood, there was a time there where I wondered if I had made the right decision, because the movies — to use a baseball analogy — maybe I was hitting singles,” he said.
But Johnson quickly became one of the most in-demand actors, starring in the “Fast and the Furious” franchise, and a pair of “Jumanji” movies that made nearly a billion dollars each at the global box office. After a string of home run hits, Johnson is now the highest paid actor in Hollywood, according to Forbes.He’s also branching out into other areas where he’s passionate, including tequila. In addition to his birthday, Johnson is celebrating one year since the launch of his Teremana tequila brand, which he personally oversaw the development of in Mexico.
“It took 113 distillations to get to this point. Everything is handcrafted, handmade. Copper pot stills, brick ovens,” he said.
It begs the question: Is there anything Dwayne Johnson can’t do? A recent poll found that he has such broad appeal that nearly half of Americans would support him if he wanted to run for president.
“If the time comes where there is a good amount of people who want to see that happen, then I’m going to consider it,” he told Willie.