Young Rock’s Dwayne Johnson Talks ‘Complicated’ Relationship with His Late Dad

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson had to relive some "incredibly tough" memories about his late dad Rocky Johnson for his upcoming comedy Young Rock.

The NBC show based on the actor's life is mostly lighthearted, but going through the formative years of his upbringing was difficult for him.

"I thought, well, let's not take the easy route," Johnson said at NBC's TCA press tour on Tuesday of his creative process with executive producer Nahnatchka Khan and writer Jeff Chiang.

The actor admitted, "But it was incredibly complicated and it was incredibly tough." 

"Growing up, and you know we specifically went with these timelines in my life that were very defining times at 10 years old, 15 and 18 … there's a lot of things in between those years that took place … but it was complicated and the relationship that I had with my dad was incredibly complicated — that was fueled by tough love," Johnson recalled of his late father who died on January 15, 2020 at age 75.

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The father of three shared, "My dad was kicked out of his house at 13 and he was homeless, so that then shaped the man who then raised me."

"And in that complication came an extraordinary life that was full of travel. I lived in 13 different states by the time I was 13 years old, also lived in New Zealand," he said. 

Rocky was a famed WWE wrestler and many other family members of the actor were American Samoan wrestlers. 

Johnson also discussed the portrayal of his father in Young Rock by actor Joseph Lee Anderson.

"My dad died one year ago this month last year, he died suddenly, and he's obviously featured throughout the show and Joseph, he did a tremendous job playing my dad," the actor said.

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He continued, "He would have loved this, he would have loved this and he would have been so proud because for the first time, certainly in prime time, we are showcasing this world, that he and all of his brothers of the rings, so to speak, of those men in the '70s and the '80s that they gave their life to."

"And, you know, to showcase it like this, and to showcase it through the lens of something that's positive and know what it meant, a lot to my dad because a lot of times the world of pro wrestling isn't always looked at through that lens in a positive way," he added. "There's a lot of positive stuff that we could take out of this."

"I can reflect that the series really allowed, in a way, me to appreciate those hard times that much more because through the brilliance of the Nahnatchka and Jeff," Johnson said. 

The actor added that he hopes to offer a "different perspective" to viewers who may also be going through or have been through difficult family times. 

"We didn't want to take the traditional route or the typical route of what you might think this could be. But still, let's talk about the complications," he said.

Young Rock premieres on NBC on February 16, 2021.

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