Entertaining profile by Caity Weaver from GQ on Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

In a break from my usual run of Polish poems with the word ‘elegy’ in the title and mordant reflections on dead birds and dead Russian hikers, here is a simply entertaining  (and quite endearing) piece on Dwayne The Rock Johnson….whose boundless enthusiasm, if Weaver’s portrait is at all accurate, is something to behold.

This was my favourite bit:

Johnson frequently takes to social media to thank members of the armed forces, specifically and in aggregate, for their service. In his patriotic hands, anything can—and will—become a tribute to the armed forces. In March, he was “grateful” to share the “big news” on Instagram that he would be portraying “a disabled US War Vet and former FBI Hostage Rescue Team leader” in an upcoming movie about “the world’s largest skyscraper—that’s on fire.” Johnson wrote that his character in this demented summer blockbuster was “inspired by the thousands of disabled US veterans and war heroes I’ve had the honor of shaking hands with over the years.” (He also mentioned that he got to meet with “the world’s top skyscraper architects,” which, though it was not about the military, was a very cool thing to brag about and could easily serve as the basis for a separate preposterous film.)

And this is bit that is both entertaining and links to the Serious Bit:

Johnson’s in Los Angeles now to film HBO’s Ballers, but he’s got gyms wherever he goes. He’s building one at his farm in Virginia, where he keeps his horses (and also, he says, a piano once owned by Benjamin Franklin; it came with the farm), and he has a workout facility at his primary residence in Florida, where he lives on a compound on the edge of the Everglades, in a tiny rural town popular among professional athletes who yearn for country living within an hour’s drive of Miami. As he crisscrosses the country for work, he’s constantly scouting new spots. If he has to go to New York for a night, he will find a gym there, and it will be in a dank, subterranean room, probably off an alley that only Johnson can find. If you have a basement, he might be in your house right now, doing leg presses and staying hydrated. Found an incredible little out-of-the-way spot, he might write on Instagram, under a photo of himself lifting your washing machine. #HardestWorkersInTheRoom #ByAnyMeansNecessary #LateNight #StopNever.

 

For all the attention he’s earned as a hulking action star, Johnson’s best performances are in those funny roles where he can display flashes of vulnerability. Despite his toned physique, he has a Will Ferrell-esque ability to project childlike innocence and confusion with his large man body and bald baby face.

There’s a scene in this spring’s virilely campy Baywatch, for instance, in which Johnson’s character is forced to wear normal work clothes instead of a tank top, even though he’s the best lifeguard the race of man has ever seen. He doesn’t have a line—all he’s doing is standing while wearing a polo shirt—but it’s inexplicably heartbreaking. Like watching a puppy get fired. And because it’s absurd that it’s heartbreaking—absurd that the millionaire movie star with the rippling muscles has tricked you into feeling bad for his character due to a minor dress-code issue—it’s also weirdly funny.

In an age when it’s cooler to hate things than enjoy them, Johnson has carved out an improbable niche for himself, as someone it’s safe to like. Maybe you like him because he’s big and does fast things in slow motion. Maybe you like him because he had one song to sing in the children’s musical he was cast in, and he sang it with his whole heart. Undeniably, he is likable—and likable is lucrative in his line of work: His films have collectively taken in more than a billion dollars a year worldwide, a fact that has made Johnson, at 45 years old, the highest-paid movie star on earth. This popularity has made people wonder just how far it could take him and what, exactly, he’d like to do with it. In a moment of political ridiculousness, there’s even the suddenly not ridiculous question of whether Dwayne Johnson might actually be headed for Washington.

For the current incumbent has managed, if nothing else, to smash the mould of what Presidential Timber means. The article is a hoot, and it is interesting to note Johnson’s studied neutrality (but immediate response on the Muslim Ban) and the enthusiasm of those who worked with him…

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