Dwayne Johnson


  1. Jet Li, The One, 2001.     The superstar wrestler, billed as The Rock,  quit for his heaviest pay-day as The Scorpion King, a prequel to his role in The Mummy 2 (co-produced, no less,by the WWF: World Wrestling Federation), rather than being a cop who kills evil versions of himself. “The most interesting part,” said Jet, “is when Jet fights Jet.”  Difficult, explaining that concept to a wrassler.
  2. Aaron Eckhart, Thank You For Smoking, 2004.      “The message Hollywood needs to send out is: Smoking Is Cool!” After Mel Gibson and before Eckhart, The Rock (or DJ to his mates) was suggested for tobacco industry lobbyist Nick Naylor.

  3. Johnny Depp, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, 2004.   
    The People’s Champion was Tim Burton’s reserve choice for chocolatier Willy Wonka. HHonestly!   In case Johnny could not get free. Tim’s 31 other fancies for Willy were his ole Betelgeuse, Michael Keaton, Gandolfini, Rowan Atkinson, Dan Aykroyd, Nicolas Cage, Jim Carrey, Chevy Chaze, Warwick Davis, Robert De Niro, Dwayne Johnson, Ian McKellen, Marilyn Manson, Steve Martin, Rik Mayall, Bill Murray, Mike Myers, John Neville, Leslie Nielsen, Brad Pitt, Peter Sallis, Adam Sandler, Jerry Seinfeld, Will Smith, Patrick Stewart, Ben Stiller, Christopher Walken, Robin Williams. And the surviving Monty Python crew (also up for the 1970 version): John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin. Among the five exec producers, author Roald Dahl’s widow, Liccy, wanted her husband’s favourite Willy – Dustin Hoffman.   If not possible she voted for UK comics, Eddie Izzard or David Walliams. She was quite happy with Depp… who found Willy’s voice whule riffing on a stoned George W Bush!

  4. Karl Urban, Doom, 2004.    DJ preferred Sarge (“more interesting”) to the lead role of John Grimm, which went to the Kiwi better known as Eomer inThe Lord of the Rings movies.   Johnson first  dropped The Rock for Southland Tales, 2006.
  5. Ron Perlman, Hellboy, 2004. Hellboycreator American Mike Mignolaand Mexican  director Guillermo del Toro(giving up Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkabanfor his dream project)agreed there was one star only – Perlman.  Joe Roth’s Revolution combine said: Vin Diesel. Or his future Fast Fiveco-star: Johnson.Del Toro did not agree.  US-Mexican stand-off. “Me – or him!”  End of story.
  6. Vin Diesel, The Pacifier, 2004.     Actor Thomas Lennon is a Jackie Chan fan. Imagine his disappointment when having co-written this tough-guy- turns-baby-sitter comedy exclusively for Chan, the Hong Kong superstar turned it down. Johnson and Bruce Willis also passed. No matter, Lennon’s cut of the Diesel version doubtless made up for it.
  7. Christian Bale, Terminator Salvation, 2008. Governator Arnold suggested The Rock  for T4 in 2005… when Johnson finally dropped “The Rock” in his billing for  Southland Tales.
  8. Amir Khan, Zombieland, 2009.     As “the point-blank zombie,” when the idea was to have several celebrity zombs – Mark Hamill, Matthew McConaughey, Joe Pesci, Patrick Swayze, Jean-Claude Van Damme, etc.
  9. Johnny Depp, Alice in Wonderland, 2009.       In earlier days, The Rock (and UK comedy star David Walliams) were considered for The Mad Hatter. Once Tim Burton agreed to direct, it was nolo contendere  about who would be asking Alice: “Why is a raven like a writing desk?” (Neither Burton, Depp, nor even Lewis Carroll had the answer).

  10. Tom Cruise, Jack Reacher, 2011.
    “Tom was the biggest movie star in the world, and I was not…  ”Some of the names – and heights – up for Lee Child’s craggy ex-military cop-cum-Sherlock-homeless  were absurd.  Jim Carrey, for example. Jim Carrey!  Some 25 others  were Nicolas Cage, Russell Crowe, Johnny Depp, Cary Elwes,  Colin Farrell, Harrison Ford, Jamie Foxx, Mel Gibson, Hugh Wolverine Jackman, Dwayne Johnson. “I look back in gratitude that I didn’t get Jack Reacher), Avatar’s Stephen Lang, Dolph Lundgren, Edward Norton, Ron (Hellboy) Perlman, Brad Pitt, Keanu Reeves (he became John Wick x 5),  Kurt Russell, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Will Smith, Sylvester Stallone, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Vince Vaughn, Denzel Washington and the battle-fatigued  Bruce Willis.  Any of them would have been more acceptable than Tom Cruise  – with the exception of Carrey, Depp, Elwes, Reeves and, obviously the Euros. Pitt was best of the pack (remember Fight Club?)… although no one even thought of the obvious choice –   Liam Neeson!  Reacher fans were livid about  the 5ft 5ins Cruisedaring to be  the  6ft 5ins  action hero. Reminiscent of Anne Rice’s capitulation over  tiny Tom as her “very tall” Lestat in  Interview With The Vampire, in 1994, author Lee Child declared: “Reacher’s size is a metaphor for an unstoppable force – which Cruise portrays in his own way.” Ah!  But then in 2018, after the sequel, Child changed his tune about his child. (They share the same birthday, October 29).  ”Ultimately, the readers are right. The size of Reacher is really, really important and it’s a big component of who he is… So what I’ve decided to do is – there won’t be any more movies with Tom CruiseWe’re rebooting,  we’re going to try and find the perfect guy.” And they did with 6ft. 2ins Alan Richtson – Aquaman in Smallville and Hawk in Supergirl and Titans – for the Amazon series.

  11. Mark Wahlberg, Transformers: Age of Extinction, 2013.     Trans4mers  was something of a reboot. With many new characters, Dinobots included. But Johnson passed on the struggling inventor Cade Yeager, too busy flexing his way through Hercules –  in a false beard made of yak public hair!  No wonder they had to pay him $12m.
  12. Kellan Lutz, The Expendables 3, 2013.   Johnson was in the frame for the ex-Marine joining Sylvester Stallone’s testosterone take on Dad’s Army – until Sly realised he’d forgotten the teen market.
  13. TJ Miller, Big Hero 6, 2014.   “We didn’t set out to be superheroes. But sometimes life doesn’t go the way you planned.”  Zac Efron, Dwayne Johnson, Chris Pratt and Ryan Reynolds were short-listed for Fred – comic-book fan and now comic-book hero in Disney’s first Marvel subject, winning the best animation Oscar.. It unfurls in 2023 (we all know that computer battery number, right?) in San Fransokyo (‘Frisco rebuilt by the Japanese after an earthquake) and deals with a super-troupe behind the titular collective name… that nobody ever uses. TJ next joined Reynolds in Deadpool. “He’s a real student of comedy,” said co-director Chris Williams, ”so Fred ended up becoming a richer character than anyone expected.” Stan Lee, himself, was Fred’s Pop.
  14. Zachary Levi, Shazam! 2018.   DJ asked his followers which dude he should be – Shazam or Black Adam.   They voted Adam, but Johnson wanted the titular cat – with, why not, Armie Hammer ads Black Adam… absent from  the Levi version.
  15. James McAvoy, It Chapter Two, 2018.  At one time The Penguin, The Rock, Peter Quill, Harry Potter, Deadpool, The Green Hornet and Doctor Who were suggested for the adult Bill Denbrough – ie, Danny De Vito, Dwayne Johnson, Chris Pratt, Daniel Radcliffe, Ryan Reynolds, Seth Rogan, David Tennant. Also in the mix: Zac Efron, Will Ferrell, Sean Hayes, Ashton Kutcher, Seth Rogan and such off-the-wall outsiders as UK comics Russell Brand, James Corden, Eddie Izzard and Matt Lucas!  McAvoy was the real McCoy – and one of the biggest Stephen King fans around. Bill Skarsgård had more fun as Pennywise this time.  No literal nightmares about fighting the clown, no kid actors scared by him in scenes, his five-hour make-up cut by half and less dialogue…  in


 Birth year: Death year: Other name: The RockCasting Calls:  15