Just this morning, someone was begging for an Afternoon Man to relax their eyes from some of the early-day atrocities on Bella Hadid and Mariah. And then The Rock stepped into our Inbox.
Back in my Tough Enough days, we went to a couple live wrestling events, and it was strangely easy to get swept up in all the whole bellowing spectacle even without Dwayne Johnson. These were the days of Stone Cold Steve Austin and Kurt Angle wearing his Olympic medals, and Big Show and Jericho and the Hardy brothers, and Booker T and Rey Mysterio, HHH when he and Stephanie McMahon were only just beginning to date, Stacy Keibler and Torrie Wilson, and of course our beloved mentors Al Snow and Tazz and Ivory and Bill DeMott. And they all whipped the crowd into frenzies well enough. But then The Rock came out, and it was like, “Oh, okay, yes. That is what charisma means.” He had the entire Staples Center in the palm of his hand, in a way that somehow felt more personal and deep and connected than your average Adele or Taylor Swift concert. Somehow, even from that far away, he made you feel like he heard you cheering. As if your yells made his muscles flex that much bigger. It was absolutely impossible to ignore that he was For Real, and therefore probably on his way out of the WWE. I sometimes think every time people screamed for him, they did it as if it was their last chance, because he was too beautiful for that world.
Caity Weaver’s profile of him is brilliant — a sharp and gracefully observed character piece. I mean:
Johnson’s penmanship is lovely—slender and elegant, with the faint forward slant prescribed by old-fashioned handwriting textbooks. His booklet is filled with permutations of exercise routines, which can work in concert to stabilize his shape or produce subtle or drastic changes as needed. It’s a book rooted in practical optimism. It suggests that all body types are achievable to him—that hard work and enthusiasm will eventually generate the desired results.
Unfortunately, what the spidery letters tell Dwayne Johnson is that now we must lift weights with our necks.
There’s also the issue of when that charisma can be a liability.
“His smile is like a weapon,” Flynn says, bringing up, by way of example, a scene in San Andreas in which Johnson plays an air-rescue pilot re-united with his daughter as earthquakes lay waste to San Francisco.“When he sees her for the first time, it was critical to see that smile and feel that sense of relief,” says Flynn. But the filmmakers had to tread lightly: The reunion wasn’t the climax of the movie—Johnson’s character still needed to save the girl from a collapsing building one more time. “You have to be smart,” Flynn says, “because if [the smile] is too much, the audience will feel safe. They’ll feel the movie is over.”
She also pins him down on The Rock for President in a way that comes around to seeming not only logical, but inevitable. It’s well worth a look.
Oh, and if the prose doesn’t lure you, there’s a photo of him dressed as a butterfly. At least please treat yourself to THAT.
[Photos: Peggy Sirota exclusively for GQ]