- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 3, 2001

Professional wrestling giant Dwayne Johnson is preparing to exit the ring and conquer Hollywood, but he is retaining his imposing stage name, "the Rock." Anyone who has a problem with that risks a stare-down from his infamous arched right eyebrow, followed by his signature bone-crushing move, the Rock Bottom.
A beefy 6-foot-5-inch ex-football player, Mr. Johnson makes his film-acting debut in "The Mummy Returns." His scenes as a mythic warrior known as the Scorpion King bookend the action extravaganza, a big-budget sequel to the blockbuster hit "The Mummy."
Taking time away from filming his next movie, a prequel to the "Mummy" movies focusing on his Scorpion King character, Mr. Johnson relaxes in a Beverly Hills hotel suite and explains his rock-solid approach to the movie business.
Q: Was it a bit daunting to move into a pair of big-budget pictures so abruptly, as opposed to working your way up to something like this?
A: No; I wasnt hesitant at all. Im one to grab opportunity. And I have all the confidence in the world in the people around me. Coming into these projects, I need help, and I need support, and theyve given me that.
Q: How did you film the amazing sequence in which your body is souped-up with computer effects for a fight with Brendan Fraser?
A: We did that in a Moroccan hotel in the middle of the desert. They did a computerized scan of my movements while I wore some sensors. I just had to go through the motions while Stephen Sommers directed me. You know, "Rock, go for Brendans head." And I go for his head. "Cut off his head." I try to cut off his head. "Knock down the pillars." It was very interesting. Later, Brendan, on his end — I think he was in London — had to react to all that defensively. Ironically enough, Brendan and I have never even met.
Q: What made you decide to choose this character as your first role in movies?
A: It was so important that I choose the right role to introduce the Rock to the film industry, as well as to the film audience. I just felt that the Scorpion King was a very fitting role. I really enjoyed the story, and I was a fan of the first "Mummy" movie. I was thinking, OK, it seems like the right thing to do. And, in hindsight, it certainly was.
Q: How different is it for you to be an actor on-screen as opposed to a performer in wrestling?
A: Well, its a lot different to act in film. In movies, youre trying to convey a wider array of emotions. In the wrestling industry, youre able to convey victory, or pain and suffering when youre getting hit. And youre playing to 30,000 people live, 360 degrees around you, with one take only. You play very large, too, so all your movements and your facial expressions are large. But youre challenged more emotionally in film.
Q: When did you decide that you wanted to be an entertainer?
A: It was throughout college and after I graduated from the University of Miami in 1995. Then, when I was cut from the Canadian Football League in the fall of 95, I knew that a chapter of my life was ending. I wanted to turn the page and start a new one.
Q: Why did you choose wrestling?
A: Only because I grew up in the industry. My grandfather was a wrestler, and so was my dad. So I was always kept very close to the industry, and I knew that the industry was always going to be there. But, first, I wanted to graduate and take football as far as I possibly could.
Q: As your career advances, what kind of roles are you looking for?
A: Ill consider anything as long as its a challenge and its written well, which is such a key to me. The money is great, but its certainly not everything. I just met with Rob Schneider last night. Were thinking about doing something where hes my little twin brother.
Q: How do you describe your persona, the Rock?
A: Hes pretty much over the top in every way. The key in wrestling, and its the exact same thing in "The Mummy Returns," is to show a type of fragility. I learned very early in my career that if you can show vulnerability, then people are able to relate to you.


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