Interview with The Rock, Walking Tall

“From the vault” of my former entertainment reporting newspaper days!
Kathy Cano-Murillo
The Arizona Republic
April 1, 2004

Here is my interview with Dwayne ‘the Rock’ Johnson. I was never a huge fan before I met with him for this interview. He has so much charisma, its infectious! And may I share that he kissed me on the cheek at the end of the interview? I hope he goes on to make a lot of movies and has a successful career! Hello, I’m a fan for life!

You know him from: The Mummy Returns, The Scorpion King and The Rundown. He also is a seven-time WWE champion.

Trademark features: Buff body, raising one eyebrow and standing tall at 6-foot-5.

Did you know? The 31-year-old was in Phoenix last week to promote Walking Tall. In his next film, Be Cool, he pokes fun at himself by playing a gay bodyguard/aspiring singer who befriends John Travolta’s character.

Love life: Married to college sweetheart Dany Garcia. They have a daughter, Simone.

What he’s hyping: Walking Tall. He stars as Chris Vaughn, a soldier who returns home to make a new life but finds the town consumed by corruption. He becomes sheriff and takes the law into his own hands.

QUESTION: You seem such a perfect fit for this film. How did it come together?

ANSWER: I went to the studio with the idea. I wanted to make an adaptation of the original movie and hopefully keep the title. … It was based on a real story of a real man who became sheriff and stood up for what he believed in, that’s what attracted me. And, of course, keeping the wood stick from the original that eventually turned into a little bam-bam bat for this version.

Q: This is a dramatic part. Was it difficult to filter “the Rock” from your performance?

A: I worked very hard on it. It didn’t come easy. Because of the premise of the movie, I wanted to make sure that not at any time that you were watching would you think of the Rock. No eyebrow. I want the audience to just see Chris Vaughn. I lost weight for this role and I worked with a really good acting coach so people would believe his plight.

Q: What was one of the hardest scenes?

A: One of them was throwing this big stick of wood into the glass (at the top of the room). It took easily 25 times to shoot. I had to throw that thing over and over because I kept missing the glass. I got embarrassed. Everyone was watching me. I’d throw it and it would go that way. I’d try again and it would go in the other direction. It was the worst experience.

Q: You scare the bejesus out of people. What are some things that make you jump?

A: OK, I’ll tell you. Phone calls in the middle of the night. Those always scare me because there are some shady things going on if you get a 3 a.m. call. Spiders scare me, too. I hate them. And most of all, my baby girl. She scares the hell out of me. She is 2 1/2 and I follow her around everywhere. Boys are different. But if you have a girl, you have to be very scared all the time.

Q: Any tips on handling bullies?

A: There is this quote that I heard from a country-music song by Aaron Tippin: “You have to stand for something or you will fall for anything.” I heard that and it always stuck with me. There have been moments in my life when I had to stand up for myself. In third grade I got my ass whopped. This kid kept pushing me and teasing me in class. So one day I waited outside and confronted him. He whopped my ass good. But at least I stood up for myself. My tip is, there will be times in your life, from the schoolyard to the boardroom, when you got to stand up. Sometimes a sacrifice or consequence will follow, but it will be worth it.

Q: What is a common misconception about you?

A: The vibe I give off. Not that people think I’m really mean, but I get a lot of, “Don’t look him in the eye.” I’m not like that at all. I’m actually very engaging and approachable.

Q: I’ve seen you cook with Martha Stewart before. I know you have a soft side. Do you have a favorite chick flick?

A: Yes, I do have a soft side. My favorite chick flick is Beaches, and I love Fried Green Tomatoes, too, that’s a good one. I love playing the guitar. I love to sing, but I just keep it to my friends.

Q: What is a question you get asked a lot?

A: “Are you going to run for anything? Do you see yourself running for office in the future?” … President Johnson, can you imagine?

Q: It seems the Rock is tough enough to handle anything. How about being a contestant on Survivor?

A: Oh, no way. I would make a complete fool out of myself. I would go attack the cameraman. I would bring my guitar. As long as I had it, everything would be good. If anything got out of hand, I could hit somebody in the head with it.

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