The New Paper
27 May 2015
On Mother's Day earlier this month, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson posted this on Instagram next to a picture of his crying mum.
They were on a private jet, when out of the blue she looked around the plane and said she couldn't believe the life she has.
"I asked her, 'Are you happy, ma?' Just then the flight attendant placed my mum's breakfast down on the table and my mum said to me, 'I used to worry about how I was going to buy groceries for us and now I just had my breakfast placed down in front of me'. She bursts into tears... This is the woman who when I was 14 years old - we were evicted out of our apartment in Hawaii 'cause we couldn't afford the $180 per week rent. And y'all know when our parents tell us they're happy, it's so satisfying for us, 'cause it means we've done a good job for them as their kids. Happy Mother's Day to my amazing mum who will no doubt kill me for posting this crying pic."
We are at the Ritz-Carlton hotel and the 43-year-old US wrestling superstar-turned-actor star is explaining his drive for success.
"We lived in a small efficiency (apartment) in Hawaii, and we were evicted. And we had to leave the state just because we had no place to go. I was 14 when that happened and I was with my mum. So that was a seminal moment in my life that changed me forever. So the work and the discipline and working extremely hard and being grateful for everything that I have really goes back to that one particular moment, because in some crazy, psychotic way, I approach every day like I am going to be evicted again, even though I am a long way away from being evicted," he told M.
Indeed, he has come a long way from his turbulent youth.
For his latest movie San Andreas, he was reportedly paid US$12 million (S$16 million).
Forbes estimates his net worth at US$125 million.
He recently set the world record for most selfies - 105 to be exact - taken in three minutes, while posing with fans at the London premiere of San Andreas.
He also literally cemented his Hollywood success at a hand and footprint ceremony at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles.
He is an international star, not just for his successful action flicks, but for the lighter films he has done that showcase his comic timing.
In San Andreas, which opens here tomorrow, Johnson plays a search-and-rescue helicopter pilot whose skills and endurance are put to the test when a record magnitude 9 earthquake strikes the US West Coast and his family are caught in the middle.
San Andreas refers to the fault line that runs 1,300km through California.
While the storyline is cliched like most disaster movies - divorce papers land on him in the first 15 minutes, estranged wife (Carla Gugino) gets caught in the earthquake, he rescues her, then they go to find their daughter who is also lost - the earthquake and action scenes are magnificent.
Johnson, who has a 13-year-old daughter with ex-wife Dany Garcia, said: "(Movie studio) Warner Brothers have great soundstages (the size of two, three football fields) over in the Gold Coast of Australia, so the majority of our shoot was done there. They have one of the biggest water tanks in the world. And we built these buildings to scale and the top of the buildings to scale, the top of the inside of the offices to scale. We built on a massive water tank that sinks and water rushes in - incredible amounts of water at high speed rush in, with three, four hundred crew members shooting the scene."
A question about the recent disaster in Nepal saddens him.
"I woke up to the news and my producer was the first person who I got on the phone with and we immediately discussed: What can we do in terms of bringing awareness, sending prayers, love, light? We immediately called the studio to try to figure out if there was a foundation we could set up. We were all devastated by it."
Warner Bros paused its promotion of San Andreas briefly and it has been reported that a sizeable donation was made by the studio for the victims of the earthquake.
When asked what things he would save in an earthquake, Johnson doesn't hesitate.
"My cell phone, my Sam Cooke records, and my fanny pack - a lot of secrets are in mine."
But why the cell phone that won't work in such a situation?
"True. But I have images in here. I have amazing, beautiful, inappropriate images. Like we all do."
See more images of The Rock in the gallery below.
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