NEW YORK — Dwayne Johnson’s two younger daughters, Jasmine and Tiana, love to play a game where they make him close his eyes. They go into the kitchen and dump ingredients into a bowl.
“They’re getting flour and water and I can hear, ‘Where’s the oil?’ and I know what’s coming,” said Johnson. He squints his eyes to peek and sees them approaching. “I’m like, ‘OK, I’m not going to look.’ and then bam! It’s dumped over my head.”
Johnson’s playful submission with his girls is a contrast to the persona introduced in his former career as a WWE superstar and now as a successful actor known for films such as “The Scorpion King,” “The Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw” and “Jungle Cruise.” Despite his 6-foot-5-inch height and muscled physique, Johnson isn’t afraid to show vulnerability and share the lessons he’s learned.
Some of those life lessons are part of the NBC series ” Young Rock,” debuting its second season Tuesday. The show follows a younger Johnson through important moments in his childhood, teen years and in college. Johnson appears in each episode, setting up the stories in an interview from the 2032 presidential campaign trail (a wink to consistent rumors he may one day run for president of the United States).
In his personal life, Johnson is quick to admit that the females run the show. “I am blessed with being surrounded by all estrogen,” said Johnson recently over Zoom from his home in Hawaii. “I’m the only dude in the house, me and the dog.”
An only child, Johnson was raised primarily by his mother Ata Johnson. While he also had a relationship with his father, the late pro-wrestler Rocky Johnson, the actor credits his mother and grandmother for raising him, saying they “had a very clear agenda on how to raise me and what lessons I should be taught and what kind of integrity I should have as a little boy growing up.”
“My grandmother, my mom. My first wife, Dany Garcia, who is now a long-time business partner, my wife today, Lauren, my three daughters continue to influence and teach me daily. Even my little ones. I have a 6-year-old and a 3-year-old, and when you’re open and amenable, you’d be surprised as a man, just how much your daughters will teach you,” he said.
Johnson often says he and his daughter Simone, now 20, “grew up together.”
“I’m a completely different man than I was 20 years ago,” he said. “I had a career in professional wrestling that was on fire. The stuff you thought was important that you should sweat maybe 10, 15 years ago are so meaningless, actually. The most important things really are literally right in front of you (like family.)”
In season two of “Young Rock,” viewers will meet Arlyn Broche as Garcia. Johnson and Garcia split in 2007. Garcia, a businesswoman with a vast portfolio, manages Johnson’s career and is the co-founder of his production company, Seven Bucks Productions.
Johnson hopes that Simone appreciates seeing her parents in a healthy, professional relationship, even though they’re no longer a couple.
“It took a lot of hard work. It took years, actually, because you’ve got to work your (expletive) out,” he laughed. “One of the most important things as we were going through the divorce process was, ‘We’re friends. The marriage didn’t work out.’ Our marriage not working out was the best thing in so many ways. It allowed her to meet the love of her life and me to meet the love of my life.” Johnson says he and Garcia’s husband David Rienzi are “great friends.”
Johnson recognizes that it also takes a special person, his wife Lauren, to be OK with her husband working with his ex-wife.
“That was all of us doing the work. It wasn’t just Dany and I. It was myself and Lauren because we were a couple just starting out. Lauren is amazing. She embodies the two most important qualities, love and kindness.”