Dwayne Johnson is on a mission to make people happy.
He talks to Laura Harding about memes, movies and why he wants you to leave the cinema with a big smile on your face.
Dwayne Johnson wants to make you happy. In fact he cares about it passionately. If you’re not happy, he’s not happy.
From the endless memes he features in, to his frequent videos on social media to his massive, rip-roaring blockbusters, he just wants you to have a good time.
Open your Facebook feed, your Twitter account or your Instagram page and chances are you will see montage of pictures of the former wrestler known as The Rock, appearing to play a game of rock, paper, scissors.
Johnson, 45, loves this meme. “I just saw that,” he beams.
“It’s awesome. I love the rock, paper, scissors one, I thought it was ironic and very clever and in those pictures, I am owning it.”
If you haven’t seen, the popular meme features shots of Johnson balling his hand into a fist to make a rock, holding his palm out flat to make paper and flashing a peace sign, to make scissors.
In all of them, you can see his huge bulging muscles.
He starts enthusiastically flashing the hand gestures. “Like this, like this and then I’m like this.”
If anyone is happy to laugh at themselves, it’s a former wrestler who has gone on to be one of Hollywood’s highest paid stars.
“We have a term which is ‘if you post it, you’re going to get roasted’, ” he says.
“These memes are just so funny, they are all hilarious, and they make me laugh.”
That is what seems to matter the most the most to him. When we meet in a chilly hotel suite (The Rock likes to keep it brisk) he smiles widely and and offers his huge hand for a shake, while also holding a giant bottle of water (The Rock likes to stay hydrated).
Every question is met with bounding enthusiasm and encouragement (“That’s a great question,” or “That’s such a good point.”)
Sitting down to chat means taking a rare break from his posts on his popular social media channels (103 million followers on Instagram and 12.8 million followers on Twitter at last check) where he shares that brimming enthusiasm about his world domination with his fans.
“Social media has been one of the best, if not the number one best decision that I was able to make in our business.
“I mean that, it allowed fans access to me that just otherwise I can’t do on any other platform.
“My relationship with the fans is the most important relationship that I have outside of my own relationships that I have with my family.
“That is what social media is to me, it’s a relationship, so like in any relationship you have to cultivate it, you have to work on it.
“You have to get memed when you screw up, you have to laugh at it.
“Then you have to support each other and you have to motivate each other and inspire each other and then you have got to mess with each other a little bit.
“It’s all those things collectively that makes social media very important to me.”
But make no mistake, he means business too. Johnson is in town promoting his new movie Rampage, based on the popular video game and produced by his production company Seven Bucks.
In fact Johnson is a producer or executive producer on most of his projects now, including the recent Baywatch and Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle, as well as his upcoming San Andreas 2, Jumanji 2 and Black Adam comic book film.
“We really approach any movie that we do with audience first,” he enthuses.
“We always make sure that we are giving the people what they want and it sounds cliched in our business and in any business but I mean that, really from the bottom of my heart.
“When you can approach a project like a Rampage, every frame, every word, every action moment is all driven by ‘is this going to make the people happy?’
“At the end of the day the most important thing to me, the number one thing, is making sure that people leave the theatre after they have spent money on a ticket, popcorn, drinks, candy, whatever else, happy.
“I have got to send them home happy and floating and saying ‘Yeah! That was awesome!’ That is important. I don’t want people sad, I never want that. Life brings that.”
This desire to please had made him a rare commodity these days – the bankable star of fun, silly, action blockbusters.
While other action stars are wielding heavy artillery and grimacing about their dark pasts, Johnson is hamming it up like there is no tomorrow.
“This is such a fun space to play in because these movies are big, they are fun, they are popcorn.
“We are kicking off the summer and I feel like when you hit the tone right you get the calamity and the destruction and then you get the things that are visually compelling with these monsters.
“Then you come in with the humour. You try to make people laugh, maybe every two or three minutes you are trying to find some humour, and then you come in with some emotion, get some tears going and then come back in with some humour.
“For me it’s an homage to movies that I grew up loving, I love Steven Spielberg and James Cameron movies, movies of the 1980s and 1990s.
“Rampage kind of has that feel to it, I really love this one in particular and I’m not saying that just because it’s my movie.
“I do, and it’s a lot of fun.” Somehow, I believe him.
Rampage is in UK cinemas now.