Get ready to learn how Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson became the man he is today. The new NBC sitcom, “Young Rock,” seeks to take audiences back to the seminal moments of Johnson’s life, from his upbringing amongst wrestling legends, to his teenage years and beyond. During the series’ TCA panel, Johnson joined series creator Nahnatchka Khan along with their cast and crew to discuss the sitcom and what it hopes to offer audiences.
“From my perspective, it was truly a love letter to professional wrestling,” Johnson said. “These men were, in essence, my superheroes.”
To that end, Khan said viewers should expect numerous cameos from actors playing wrestlers of old. “Young Rock” will mark the first time many of these wrestlers have been portrayed on television and because of that, the actor reached out to the families of all the wrestlers referenced to let them know the portrayals would be positive.
“All of our actors were so committed to these roles,” Johnson said, especially Joseph Lee Anderson who portrays Johnson’s father.
Khan said what makes Johnson’s story so relatable is its ups and downs.
“We’ve all been there in some shape or form,” she said. But because the series is so specifically about Johnson, it took some time for everyone to figure out how it could transcend just his life. “What is the real reason why we’re going to do this,” Johnson said, remembering his first conversation with Khan two years earlier. The goal was to entertain audiences but also create a takeaway.
The words “wild” and “crazy” get thrown out a lot “but it was incredibly complicated […] growing up,” Johnson said. “We specifically went with these timelines in my life that were very defining times.”
Johnson said his relationship with his father, which is a major element of the first season, was filled with tough love because his father was kicked out of his house at 13. Johnson himself lived in 13 different states by the time he reached his teenage years.
“There was so much breadth to this life that I had,” Johnson said. He had a willingness to “rip things open” and explore vulnerability. “The series has really allowed me, in a way, to appreciate those hard times that much more.”
Johnson’s father passed one year ago this month and the actor said, “He would have loved this,” especially since the world of pro wrestling is being shown in a positive light.
Khan said the course of Season 1 will see candidate Johnson, running for President in 2032, at different political events as he goes along the campaign trail. But don’t expect any political friends of Johnson’s to pop up, like Elizabeth Warren, though that could change in future seasons. Even though it only took 10 minutes to get the pitch accepted by NBC, the desire is that more seasons will allow for a deeper dive into Johnson’s life.
Watch the trailer for “Young Rock” below.
Young Rock premieres Tuesday, February 16 at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.