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Saturday 20 January 2018

Here's why Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson could conceivably be president

From rags to riches, Johnson displays drive and ability to succeed... and he hasn't ruled out a career in politics

Wrestling with future plans: Dwayne Johnson has succeded in the film industry but may switch career again
Wrestling with future plans: Dwayne Johnson has succeded in the film industry but may switch career again
The Rock
Ed Power

Ed Power

Could actor Dwayne Johnson really be considering a run for president? As the actor formerly known as wrestling champion The Rock continues to bring his charm to cinemas, a tilt at the White House is perceived as increasingly plausible.

In a world where a reality television host can ascend to the highest office in the land, what's stopping a charismatic movie star? Johnson has many of the attributes essential for a modern presidential candidate. He's charming and easy to relate to, with an approachable persona that sets him apart from many of his Hollywood contemporaries. Moreover, he has an all-American rags-to-riches story in the tradition of Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan.

There are parallels with a more recent Commander-in-Chief, too. As with Barack Obama, Johnson spent part of his youth in Hawaii and is of mixed race parentage, with an African American mother and Samoan father. The murmurings of a possible Johnson presidential run originated in a 2016 British GQ interview, in which he was upfront about his political ambitions.

"I'll be honest, I haven't ruled politics out. I'm not being coy when I say that, but at the moment I am not sure," Johnson said. "I can't deny that the thought of being governor, the thought of being president, is alluring. And beyond that, it would be an opportunity to make a real impact on people's lives on a global scale." Until recently, Rock-for-President chatter would have been met with derision. But then Donald Trump took on the political establishment, the Hollywood elite and the basic laws of reality to sweep to the White House.

The Rock

Moreover, if Johnson (above) sets his heart on politics he would certainly go all out. Through his career he has displayed an uncanny drive and an ability to exceed expectations. When he started dabbling in acting, playing a cartoonish villain in the Mummy Returns (2001), for instance, he was perceived as stretching the limits of his abilities. But he worked at his craft and, when his career had stalled circa 2011, changed agents in order to secure roles he felt better suited to his talents. By 2013, Johnson was the world's biggest box office draw, his projects bringing in $1.3bn that year alone. His story, is genuine and affecting. Johnson grew up poor and adrift, with frequent scrapes with the law. His father, a mid-tier wrestler who fought as Rocky Johnson, was on the road constantly searching for work. By the time he was a teenager Dwayne had moved home 13 times and he was frequently in trouble. But he knuckled down when his mother revealed the bank was threatening to evict them from their house. Johnson poured his energies into developing his physique so that, by his 18th birthday, he was sufficiently imposing to win an American football scholarship. Here, too, though, came setbacks. Injuries derailed his career at Miami Hurricanes and he soon found himself playing for a pittance in the Canadian league. Even that was taken from him when his team let him go. So he got into wrestling and, understanding that audiences responded most strongly to the villains in the sport, became "The Rock". As the swaggering "heel" he was soon among the biggest draws in the WWE. With Trump's tenure in the Oval Office eliciting despair and disbelief in equal measure, President Rock has started to strike many as not only conceivable - but desirable.

Tellingly, both conservatives and progressives in the US are warming to the idea."Johnson [has] a weirdly plausible path to a political career," opined the Washington Post last year.

Three and a half years out from the new presidential election, he's a long shot. But stranger things have happened - as the current occupant of the White House would no doubt attest.

Celebs for the presidency

Taylor Swift

She's put manners on Harry Styles, Jake Gyllenhaal and John Mayer - and has showed admirable resolve in waging a long time campaign against strategic enemy Katy Perry.

Mark Zuckerberg

Having built a multi-zillion dollar empire from his dorm, imposing order on America's dysfunctional political system would surely be a doddle. Think of all the "likes" he'd receive.

Michelle Obama

Hillary Clinton won the popular vote so what's to stop another formidable presidential spouse going one further? After all, unlike Hillary people actually like Michelle.

Irish Independent

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