(KGET) — The latest thing Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is cooking is an NBC situation comedy that takes a look at the early life of the football player/professional wrestler/movie star. “Young Rock” will be served up at 8 p.m. on Feb. 16.
The series looks at Johnson’s life from his early days growing up in a world surrounded by professional wrestlers to his high school days to playing football for the University of Miami. Those three versions of Johnson will be played by Adrian Groulx, Uli Latukefu and Bradley Constant.
Johnson will also be in the series as he plays a near-future version of himself being interviewed as he makes a run for the White House. He is also one of several executive producers for the series.
The idea of making a television program examining the early days of Johnson has been in the works for more than two and a half years. What proved to be the biggest stumbling block for the creative team was finding a formula that was entertaining while at the same time would give the viewers something to think about after they saw the episode aired.
Bottom line for everyone involved was to avoid taking the easy route in telling Johnson’s story.
“My life, you know, we use these terms wild and crazy. Those are great sizzle words we use as we promote this thing, but it was incredibly complicated and it was Incredibly tough growing up,” Johnson says. “We specifically went with these timelines in my life that were very defining times at 10 years old, 15 and 18.
“” If we are, universe willing, lucky enough to come back for another round of this thing, there’s a lot of other things in between those years that took place.”
NBC executives have ordered 11 episodes to see if the story of The Rock is a winner or loser with viewers. The majority of the episodes will deal with the complicated relationship Johnson had with his father, Rocky Johnson (played in the series by Joseph Lee Anderson), who was a professional wrestler.
Johnson’s father died in January 2020 but The Rock is certain his dad would have been a big fan of the series particularly how it shows professional wrestling in such a positive way.
Being so closely connected to the life of a professional wrestler meant Johnson lived in 13 states and New Zealand by the time he was 13. It was a time for constant adjustments but also an education in life that Johnson used as he grew older and that is what he wants to share through the series.
“The willingness to rip some things open and realize that vulnerability is going to be one of those factors. When I look back on this and I can reflect this, the series has really allowed in a way me to appreciate those hard times that much more,” Johnson says.
“Sometimes when we’re going through tough times like this, sometimes when you’re in it, you’re in the bubble. Sometimes when you see somebody else going through it, it just gives a different perspective.
“”We didn’t want to take the traditional route or the typical route of what you might think this could be. But, let’s talk about the complications. Let’s reveal things. But then also, very important, let’s talk about the good stuff. Because there was so much good stuff now when I look back at it and the good stuff of growing up in this wild world with these characters who are larger than life.”
“Young Rock” is the latest accomplishment in a long career in entertainment for Johnson. After becoming one of the biggest names in professional wrestling he conquered films with movies ranging from the action heavy “Fast Five” to the comedy “Central Intelligence.” His TV work includes a host of wrestling programs and “Ballers.”
A lot of moments in Johnson’s life are covered in the 11 episodes but Johnson stresses there are plenty more stories to tell if the series continues.
“I mean, there is pre-Adrian, 5, 6, 7, 8. And then, from 11, 12, 13, 14, those were my years where I was the star of getting arrested all the time. We have so many stories there,” Johnson says. “And, of course, the University of Miami and playing there and then post-university Miami when I made the decision that I felt like I might have something to offer the world of pro wrestling and then we get into the WWE of it also.
“There’s a good amount of stuff.”
The debut of “Young Rock” will be followed by the launch of the new Kenan Thompson comedy, “Kenan.” They bump “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist” that will return in late March on Sunday nights.