That’s not an insult. It’s just that there’s never been anyone quite like him in pop culture. How many pro wrestlers became successful actors? Andre the Giant? Hell, how many athletes have become leading men? O.J. Simpson? How many put together lasting careers? The only name remaining is Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Schwarzenegger’s a living legend, but somehow the comparison seems apt: Based on data from The Numbers, Schwarzenegger has been a leading actor in 25 films grossing about $4 billion worldwide, while Johnson has been a lead in 17 films grossing a cumulative $3.7 billion worldwide.
But we’ve had Arnie since the early 1980s. Johnson’s been at it only 15 years. I stand by my premise: Dwayne Johnson’s career arc is unheard of. This is a guy who eats an unfathomable amount of codper day. He’s in his 40s and in the best shape of his life. Johnson made his own alarm clock app to distribute encouraging messages to his fans every morning — the best thing to happen to horology since the pendulum. He’s got a show on HBO. He is the coolest person you will never meet.
But for most of us, he’s a prolific actor on the big screen, a guy who went from a wrestler-turned-half-crab-monster in a poorly regarded sequel to one of the most bankable leading men on the planet. What on earth happened?