Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson On Recreating '70s Wrestling For Young Rock

Movie star and WWE legend Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is bringing his wrestling-filled childhood to life on NBC's Young Rock.

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When Young Rock premieres on NBC in February, the half-hour comedy series will tell the story of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's life at three formative ages--10 years old, 15 years old, and 18 years old. Of course, The Rock's life is a pretty unique one, making it the perfect setting for a weird and wild love letter to pro wrestling that recreates the industry as it was in the 1970s.

The son of WWE Hall of Famer Rocky Johnson and a descendent of the legendary Anoa'i wrestling family, The Rock was practically born into professional wrestling royalty and surrounded by the industry from a very young age. The wrestling industry as he knew it, though, is quite a bit different from today's sports entertainment. In portraying that, Young Rock is able to give an honest look at the industry that made Johnson famous, for better or worse, and the impact it had on his life.

"From my perspective, this was truly a love letter to professional wrestling, which is a business that I grew up in and a business that I've loved all my life and learned some of my most valuable, while very unorthodox, lessons coming out of the world of pro wrestling," he explained during the TCA winter press tour. "So to highlight and showcase these men who were, in essence, my superheroes--they didn't wear capes when I was a little boy."

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While these wrestlers were superheroes to a young Johnson, the series also portrays some of the realities of the industry and goes out of its way to show the hustling mindset of many wrestlers. "All of these men [were] so successful with what they did. But yet, interestingly enough, they played that role 24 hours a day, even if that meant they lived in small apartments, even if that meant they lived paycheck to paycheck," Johnson said. "I look back with such a profound gratitude that I'm able to share these stories."

And those stories are filled with familiar faces to fans of professional wrestling. The first episode alone sees actors playing characters like Andre the Giant, the Wild Samoans, Iron Sheik, and Johnson's own father. Joseph Lee Anderson takes on the role of Rocky Johnson and, according to The Rock, the actor was committed to bringing the character to life--right down to the wrestling ability.

"He had to go from not being a professional wrestler to actually learning how to wrestle professionally, which is an incredibly difficult thing to do," Johnson said. "And my dad was a bad dude in the game and he had a lot of charisma and tons of athletic ability and Joseph really did a tremendous job."

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And thankfully, according to the wrestler-turned-movie star, the elder Johnson would approve of his portrayal on the show. "He would have loved this and 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 ring, so to speak, those men in the '70s in the '80s, that they gave their life to," Johnson said. "To showcase it like this, and to showcase it through the lens of something that's positive, I know that 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. And there's a lot of positive stuff that we can take out of this."

Young Rock premieres February 16 on NBC.

Image credit: Getty Images/Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/Contributor and NBC

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