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THE PEOPLE'S PRESIDENT

The Rock for president? It’s not inconceivable when he’s this popular as a movie star

The Rock
Reuters/Eduardo Munoz
Rock around the clock.
By Ashley Rodriguez
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Sixteen years ago, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson moved from the wrestling ring to the silver screen with a part as a desert warrior in The Mummy Returns. He was in the movie for all of 10 minutes—and audiences adored him.

Today, he’s the highest paid actor in Hollywood—Johnson made more than $60 million last year—and is being touted for a US presidential run, which he’s seriously considering. (Who isn’t, now that Donald Trump is president?)

It’s Johnson’s stirring presence and broad appeal that have allowed him to conquer Hollywood and make him a fit for office, GQ reported. He’s the superfecta of action stars in that he hits on all four quadrants worshipped by movie studios: old men, young men, old women, and young women. “[He] is as close to guaranteeing you butts in the seat as anybody can be,” NBCUniversal vice chairman Ron Meyer told the publication.

Not all Johnson’s movies are hits. But collectively, they’ve made about $1 billion a year for the last five years.

And even those, like Hercules, that fell short in the US shored it up with overseas box-office returns. “The great saving grace is China,” Hercules director Brett Ratner told Fortune. “He has such a huge fan base there.” Seventy percent of the movie’s returns came from abroad. He’s truly a global superstar.

Lately, Johnson has found a niche with buddy movies that meld comedy with big action, like the Fast and Furious franchise and the new Baywatch movie. For that reason, he’s come to be regarded as something of a franchise savior who is brought in when a sequel needs a lift, too.

Off the screen, Johnson’s following is as massive as his is. And he uses it to fill seats at the cinema. Johnson has the 10th-most followed account on Instagram, where he posts photos and videos from behind-the-scenes on his movie sets and the gym to his 86 million followers. He’s also about as cheesy in his posts as his wrestling catchphrase, “If you smell what The Rock is cooking.”

As of May 11, Johnson had 57 million followers on Facebook and 2 million subscribers to his YouTube channel, which launched about a year ago. He also has 11 million followers on Twitter, where he once nearly exposed a state secret. (Trump, by contrast, has 29 million.)

That was about the death of Osama bin Laden. And it was posted on May 1—before Barack Obama announced it. Johnson has yet to reveal how he got the jump on the news, but told GQ the post was meant to be timed to Obama’s announcement.

Johnson, who is black and Samoan, is also a multicultural megastar whose ambiguous ethnic blend allows nearly everyone to see something of themselves in him, even if he is 6.5 feet tall and about as wide. As GQ’s Caity Weaver wrote:

This uncommon ethnic background means that, in the right light, he can read as Pacific Islander, Latino, Middle Eastern, Native American, Southeast Asian, undead Scorpion King from an ancient civilization, black, white, or any combo thereof. (Johnson says white people often guess he is “…Greek?”) In other words, pretty much anyone can find themselves, or a slightly tanner or paler version of themselves, in Dwayne Johnson if they look hard enough; appearance-wise, he has a hometown advantage everywhere on earth.

Lastly, part of the reason Johnson is so beloved is that he embraces his wrestling roots. He dons the mantle of The Rock proudly, even though he spends more time on film sets now than he does in the ring. And he still appears on programs like the WWE’s Monday Night Raw and headlined Westlemania back to back in 2012 and 2013—a full 11 years after he first started acting.

“If I want to be called ‘The Rock,’ I’ll be called ‘The Rock.’ If I want to go back to wrestling, I’ll go back to wrestling,” he says. “It’s all the same guy.”

With the money he’s making, he can afford to be whoever he wants. Including potential presidential candidate. Which, who knows, might prompt Kanye West to bring his presidential run back to 2020.

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