It was the late ‘90s, and Dwayne “The Rock” Jonson was working the WWE circuit, going from town to town and encountering adoring fans everywhere he went. He remembers thinking then that he had “Jesus-level fame.”
The Jumanji star explained how his attitude toward being recognized and admired by others has evolved since then in a 14-minute video he shared Thursday on IGTV. The clip was a response to a question sent in by a fan, one of many he’s been answering on social media, about his feelings on the subject.
His quick answer is that now, when he’s headlining blockbuster movies on the regular, he tries not to get too caught up in the idea of being famous.
He said that, as a young wrestler, he encountered excited fans everywhere, and it created a skewed perception of reality for him. The Rock was much lesser known to mainstream audiences back then, but he felt famous. People were clamoring for him, all across the country, as he went from the hotel to the gym to the Waffle House or whatever restaurant and arena where he’d wrestle. Day after day. He got sucked up.
“I mean, I don’t know, I’m like the Beatles,” he said with a laugh. “Guys, listen, Beatles, Elvis, Jesus, and I’m this famous now.”
The Rock’s attitude changed, though, after an encounter with two fans one night when he was having dinner at a restaurant.
“I’m so grateful that it happened. I thank this couple, by the way,” he said. “They probably have no idea that they were part of a defining moment in my life. So they came over, and they were so nice, they said, ‘We’re so sorry, can we please have your autograph and a picture? So sorry.’ … I said ‘yes,’ but in a way that made them feel bad.”
They obviously picked up on what the WWE star was thinking.
“And in that moment, their demeanor changed, their energy changed. They went from excited and sorry but really excited to then they felt bad. I have goosebumps now thinking about it,” he recalled.
They started to leave, embarrassed, but he then insisted on giving them an autograph and taking a photo. Still, they continued to apologize as they left.
“It took all of 30 seconds, not even 30 seconds, to realize that I had an opportunity to make somebody feel good and I made them feel bad… and what an a**hole that made me,” he said.
The Rock sat there for a while considering the event from the couples’ point of view.
After that, he vowed that he’d never make someone feel bad again for coming up to him.
“[Fans] all get the same treatment, and that treatment is gratitude, and I appreciate you coming up and actually asking for my autograph,” he said, “because by the way, the alternative to that is I go back to having seven bucks in my pocket and nobody giving a s*** to get my autograph or get my picture. On top of that, here’s the truth: You know, taking a picture, a selfie or signing an autograph, is literally one of the easiest parts of my job.”
He gave some advice for young people: “Don’t worry about being famous. Worry about being good at something.”
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