Can you smell what the Rock is eat­ing?

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT - By Bryan Alexan­der

LOS AN­GE­LES — “Are you OK? Lit­er­ally. Are you OK? You’re look­ing kind of...” These are not the words you ever ex­pect, or re­ally want, to hear com­ing from Dwayne (the Rock) John­son. Es­pe­cially when there’s con­cern in his eyes as he in­spects you. He should have ended the in­quiry with “nau­se­ated” or “about to toss your cook­ies.” But he was too po­lite to spell it out. Class act. It’s not ev­ery day that you agree to tackle the en­tire seven-meals-daily “Her­cules diet” in one sit­ting. The reg­i­men has gained right­ful no­to­ri­ety as pro­vid­ing the lean fuel needed to cre­ate the im­pres­sive body ma­chine that is the Rock in Her­cules, which opened Fri­day. This food tally alone, set be­fore us in a pri­vate room at the Four Sea­sons ho­tel, is pun­ish­ing. It starts with a stu­pen­dous 10-ounce filet of steak along with four egg whites and oat­meal (Her­cules break­fast No. 1) on the way to steak/fish/chicken por­tions tal­ly­ing more than three pounds. They ar­rive with broc­coli, as­para­gus, a pro­tein shake and a mys­tery red drink that was jok­ingly added to rep­re­sent “lion’s blood.” I re­call pick­ing at a baked potato. Things got a lit­tle hazy. Truth is, even as an ac­com­plished food con­sumer, I was no match for the Rock and what he is jokes is the “12 labours diet.” Even John­son was sort of blown away when he looked at the en­tire meal plan laid out in front of him. “It’s ab­surd. You walk in think­ing, ‘What in fresh turkey hell is go­ing on?’” he says. There were vari­a­tions dur­ing the 22-week stretch that John­son fol­lowed the diet, be­fore and dur­ing film­ing last year in Bu­dapest. His trainer would make small ad­just­ments based on de­tailed body pho­tos. But mostly it was mas­sive food

in­take with no salad fork or plates needed.

“I pre­ferred a big­ger (plas­tic) con­tainer. I take a spoon, and, in a pol­ished, poised way I shove it all in,” he says. On the set, John­son would be on meal No. 3 be­fore direc­tor Brett Rat­ner woke up in the morn­ing. But eat­ing the food was not a chore. The in­gre­di­ents were top-qual­ity, and John­son needed the in­take to fuel him dur­ing the ar­du­ous film­ing. “The only tough one was the last meal of the day, No. 7,” says John­son. “I get back to the ho­tel room, I’m ready to go to sleep. But I have to down 10 egg whites.” I feel you, my Her­culean brother. It doesn’t help me dur­ing our meal that John­son tells gross sto­ries about bone-pro­trud­ing wrestling in­juries and the won­ders of hav­ing his in­testines pushed back in­side dur­ing a her­nia pro­ce­dure. “Do you get queasy at all?” he asks be­fore the her­nia story. “I just have to ask. Just in case.” De­spite it all, I held down two steaks, one hal­ibut, some chicken, oat­meal and some hefty por­tions of the veg­etable sides from each plate. We slowed to a near stop when it was clear my frail ego would keep me eat­ing to self-de­struc­tion. “No cow­boys here,” says the ac­tion star sagely. “To puke any­thing doesn’t mean we won.” But I did win. I was granted per­mis­sion to let out a Team Her­cules roar on the ba­sis of food con­sump­tion alone. The Rock left with me words that I hope to never hear again: “Good job, buddy. Now don’t get sick.”

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