The kindest man in Hollywood: All the times Dwayne Johnson used his celebrity for good
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has had a longstanding career in the entertainment industry, from his start as a pro wrestler to becoming one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood. The Black Adam star also has another title under his belt – and no, it’s not the WWE Championship belt, of which he’s won 10. It’s Oscars presenter.
Ahead of the 95th annual Academy Awards, which takes place on Sunday 12 March, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts announced Johnson among its list of awards presenters this year. But from starring in blockbuster films like Jumanji and Moana, to being a supportive girl dad to his three daughters, it’s amazing Johnson even has time to attend the 2023 Oscars.
Throughout his career, the 50-year-old actor has used his celebrity status to inspire others and give back to those who have helped him along the way. Whether its sharing encouraging messages on social media or surprising his biggest fans, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has become known as one of the nicest men in Hollywood.
Here’s some of his best moments.
When he surprised his mother Ata with a new home
Throughout it all, Johnson’s mother Ata has stood by his side. To thank his mother for everything she’s done, the father of three surprised her last June by buying her a home.
In a clip shared to Instagram, the actor filmed his 73-year-old mother as she stepped inside her new home for the first time. The Hawaii native was seen covering her mouth as her eyes welled up with tears.
Johnson explained in his caption why the moment was so important to him. “Love you mom and surprise!” he wrote. “When I was a little boy, I hated when my mom would cry ~ these days, I’ll happily take her tears of joy.
“I surprised my mom and bought her a new home. Took me and my design team eight weeks to get it ready, where she could walk through her front door for the very first time and everything she saw was brand new and a total surprise.”
He continued: “I’ve been lucky enough to have bought her a few homes over the years, but this one is special as she’s told me over and over these past few years, ‘After a lifetime of travelling, I want this home to be my last. That’s my dream.’”
“Mom, there’s no greater feeling than to make you happy ~ welcome home.”
In a second post, Johnson explained that he’d “unearthed” pictures of their ancestors that his mother “hasn’t seen since she was a child growing up in Samoa” and had put them on the wall along with her vintage ukuleles.
Ata sobbed as she walked around the room, pointing to the pictures.
“Thank you God for blessing me with a little bit of work ethic to make stuff like this happen,” he added. “Enjoy your new home mom!!”
When he made Adele’s dreams come true
Adele may be a 16-time Grammy Award winner, but she was just like all of us when she was left speechless after The Rock surprised her at the 2023 Grammys. During the awards ceremony last month, host Trevor Noah kicked off his opening monologue by running through a list of all the famous faces at the event, including Harry Styles, Taylor Swift, Lizzo, Beyoncé, and Adele.
“This is one of the strangest things I found out,” Noah said. “The person that Adele has always wanted to meet, but never has, is Dwayne Johnson.”
“I found out that he’s a huge fan of yours too,” he added as Adele watched from the crowd. “I don’t have Dwayne Johnson here tonight, but I do have someone called The Rock.”
The wrestler-turned-actor then came up behind the “Easy On Me” singer, who burst into laughter as the two finally hugged.
Speaking with Variety after the ceremony, Johnson shared that “we wanted to do something special for Adele”.
“I know that she is a very big fan of mine and has made that clear publicly many times. But I’ve got to tell you, I am a huge fan of hers, as well – her music, her journey, her openness and directness in how she speaks. I’ve always admired that about her,” he said.
“We were trying to figure out something to do that was going to be fun and surprise her, and we had kicked around ideas all week,” Johnson explained.
“The key to a surprise like that is to actually keep it a surprise. Myself and the Grammys went to great lengths to make sure that Adele was authentically surprised in the moment, and she was.”
“It was just a great surprise and I was able to chat with her a little bit and her boyfriend, Rich Paul,” he continued. “And talk about the universe meeting our friendship halfway: I get up onstage and I open that Grammy envelope and it said ‘Adele.’ So that’s why I was able to say, ‘Get up here best friend, Adele!’”
When he bought every Snickers bar from the local store he used to steal from
The actor, who lived in Honolulu, Hawaii, during his childhood, would apparently steal many a chocolate bar from his local 7-Eleven store. In September, Johnson decided to right his wrongs by purchasing every Snickers bar from the convenience store.
“I have been waiting decades to do what I’ve been getting ready to do now,” the actor said in a video posted to Instagram. “When I was 14 years old, every day I used to stop here at this 7-Eleven and steal a king-sized Snicker bar because I couldn’t afford to buy one.
“That was my pre-workout food. I did that for almost a year every day. I had to come back and buy every Snickers bar on those shelves,” he continued.
The Rock then cleared the shelf of all the Snickers bars before bringing them to the cashier, who counted up all the bars of chocolate for a total of $298. As stunned fans and customers looked on, the actor told the worker how he used to steal Snickers bars when he was growing up. He then offered to pay for the groceries of all the customers in the store, and left the bag of chocolate at the front of the store for others to take for themselves, free of charge.
“After decades of me wanting to come back home to 7-Eleven and try and make good, that felt really, really good,” he said while smiling at the camera.
In his caption, the former wrestler added: “We can’t change the past and some of the dumb stuff we may have done, but every once in a while we can add a little redeeming grace note to that situation – and maybe put a big smile on some strangers’ faces.”
When he honoured service men and women with the “Rock the Troops” event
In December 2016, Johnson hosted the inaugural “Rock the Troops” event in Hawaii to honour American troops and the 50,000 members of the military and their families who were able to attend the show.
The star-studded event was hosted by Johnson, who comes from a military family, and was filled with appearances by Jack Black, Keegan Michael-Key, Terry Crews and Kevin Hart. It was filmed at the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii in honour of the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, and was broadcasted on the Spike network.
When he set aside his political aspirations for his family
Despite being both an actor and a former WWE wrestler, Johnson has also spoken about a potential career in politics. Following the 2016 presidential election, which saw Donald Trump elected as the 45th US president, The Rock teased that he was “seriously” considering a political career.
Back in 2017, he also said there was a “real possibility” he would run for president. “A year ago, it started coming up more and more,” Johnson told GQ at the time. “There was a real sense of earnestness, which made me go home and think ‘Let me really rethink my answer and make sure I am giving an answer that is truthful and also respectful.’”
In the past, Johnson, who is registered Independent, spoke at the Republican National Convention in 2000 and attended the Democratic National Convention the same year. In 2020, he endorsed Joe Biden for president.
Then in April 2021, The Rock responded to a poll showing 46 per cent of people wanted him to run for president. In an Instagram post, Johnson shared an article featuring the quote: “At least 46 per cent of Americans would support a presidential run from Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson”.
“Humbling,” he wrote. “I don’t think our Founding Fathers EVER envisioned a six-four, bald, tattooed, half-Black, half-Samoan, tequila drinking, pick up truck driving, fanny pack wearing guy joining their club – but if it ever happens it’d be my honour to serve you, the people.”
Addressing rumours of a presidential run, the star confirmed that he would be keen to go into politics if that is what the public wanted. “I would consider a presidential run in the future if that’s what the people wanted,” he told USA Today in 2021. “Truly I mean that, and I’m not flippant in any way with my answer. That would be up to the people ... So I would wait, and I would listen. I would have my finger on the pulse, my ear to the ground.”
However, The Rock has since set aside his political aspirations to be a present father for his three daughters – Simone Johnson, 21, who he shares with ex-wife Dany Garcia, as well as Jasmine Johnson, seven, and Tiana Johnson, four, who he shares with wife Lauren Hashian.
Last October, the Game Plan star said in an interview with CBS Sunday Morning that he’s ruled out a presidential bid in order to put his family first. "It’s off the table," he told CBS correspondent Tracy Smith.
“I will say this, ‘cause it requires a B side to this: I love our country and everyone in it,” he continued. “I also love being a daddy. And that’s the most important thing to me, is being a daddy, number one, especially during this time, this critical time in my daughters’ lives. ‘Cause I know what it was like to be on the road and be so busy that I was absent for a lot of years when my first daughter [was born]... And that’s what the presidency would do.”