Johnson is ‘franchise Viagra’
Former wrestler is Hollywood’s biggest actor
A movie star is someone who can carry a movie, a person audiences will line up to see no matter what the film. There’s no formula, just equal parts talent, charisma and staying power.
For years Tom Cruise and Will Smith ruled the Hollywood roost, but Cruise’s couch jumping tarnished his star (unless he’s headlining a movie with the words Mission Impossible in the title) and Smith has hit a box office rough patch.
These days, Hollywood’s biggest movie star — both physically and metaphysically — is a former wrestler who made his acting debut playing his own father on an episode of That ’70s Show. Since then Dwayne Johnson’s paycheques have blossomed along with his popularity and in 2016 he was the world’s highest-paid actor, in part due to his reputation as “franchise Viagra.”
His is a varied filmography: a resume containing everything from the highbrow, abstract sci-fi flick Southland Tales, and the bloody b-movie Walking Tall, to the family friendly Tooth Fairy and the pedal-to-the-metal Fast & Furious flicks. But they are bound together by one thing — his innate star power.
Haters, like a recent commenter at Variety.com, who complained that Johnson, “has never done a compelling complex character, only mindless good vs evil roles,” miss his populist appeal.
Despite his Greek God physique, he’s an everyman, a charismatic crowd-pleaser with a cocked eyebrow.
His appeal continues off screen as well. He’s a big deal now but that wasn’t always the case and he’s positioned himself as an inspirational figure, a muscle bound Tony Robbins. “I started w/ $7 bucks. If I can overcome, so can you,” he tweeted when he was crowned the World’s Highest-Paid Actor.
“I have enjoyed a good amount of success and I’m very grateful for everything I have,” the bulky actor told me a few years ago.
“I’m very grateful for being who I am. I make sure to approach every project and everything I do as if it is going to be my last,” Johnson said.
Take a flagging franchise, add Dwayne Johnson and watch flaccid box office numbers suddenly grow, writes Richard crouse.