Dwayne Johnson, the pro wrestler turned big-screen actor whose bicep alone is probably bigger than your entire upper body, reveals in a candid interview with The Hollywood Reporter (June 27 issue) that he’s had his fair share of struggles in the past—from getting into trouble with the law as a teenager to getting kicked out of his home at 14 to being dumped as a professional football player—and Johnson admits it ultimately led to depression.
“I didn’t want to do a thing,” he recalled. “I didn’t want to go anywhere. I was crying constantly. Eventually you reach a point where you are all cried out.”
Jennifer Mitchell / Splash News
After attempting to overcome numerous obstacles as a young boy, The Rock decided to turn things around, and at 18, he won a full football scholarship to the University of Miami and was ecstatic when he was the only freshman chosen to play, something very rare in college football.
However, he began to sustain multiple injuries and ended up dropping out of school without even taking his midterms. Johnson saw himself going into a downward spiral again, until his coach called and set him straight. “He says, ‘Get your ass in a car and come back right now.’ He was so embarrassed and pissed. It’s one thing when you go through an injury and depression. It’s another when you walk away and say, ‘F— it.’ “
The Rock went back to school and continued to dream of playing for the NFL. Unfortunately, when the draft came, he wasn’t picked. He went on to get signed by the Canadian Football League’s Calgary Stampeders, which was far less luxurious than what he pictured in his mind, but it was something.
Kerry Brown, Paramount Pictures
Until—yes, more unfortunate news—his coach told him he was being cut. “You hear the words you never want to hear as a player: ‘Coach wants to see you. Bring your playbook,’ ” said Johnson. “There was no injury. It’s just, ‘That’s it. You’re not good enough.’ That was very sobering.”
That’s when his second round of depression crept back in. “The dreams I had, they’re dashed,” he explained. “There is no more football. My relationship was crushed. That was my absolute worst time…I looked in my pocket, and I had seven bucks. Wow. Seven bucks to my name.”
However, all of Johnson’s hardships is what helped mold him into the man he is today—an action star with a lucrative career that’s far beyond anything he could have imagined (his films made a whopping $1.3 billion last year alone!).
Now if that doesn’t inspire you, we don’t know what will.
Alex J. Berliner/AP Images
Johnson also opened up about the moment he found out his Fast & Furious co-star Paul Walker passed away from a fiery car crash.
“I was driving with [girlfriend] Lauren [Hashian] when she immediately turned very quiet and was looking at me, studying, wondering if I knew,” he recalled of that November day.
“I pulled over and looked at my messages and had a moment where I just caught my breath. We said a prayer right then to give his daughter strength—because we had talked about our daughters. That’s what we would talk about. Both of us were divorced, and we talked about the power of being a dad and the strong connection of a dad and his girl. Then once we got home, we started bawling.”
by Bruna Nessif