13 Times The Rock Was the Celebrity the Internet Was Waiting For

7 minute read

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is something of a hero for his avid — and ever-growing — fan base. The former wrestler turned 2016’s highest-paid actor in Hollywood helms a number of film franchises including the upcoming Jumanji and Baywatch reboots, while also playing crowd favorite roles in action blockbusters like the Fast and the Furious. (Oh, and there was that time he voiced a literal god for Disney’s Moana.)

But Johnson keeps busy offscreen, too. Whether he’s shilling athletic apparel, hitting the gym religiously, or helping raise his two daughters, he maintains a very active social media presence.

His message throughout — that hard work, gratitude, and being a standup citizen will pay off — is a mantra that his admirers live by. He just turned 45, but if this list is any indication, he’s only beginning to hit his groove.

With more than 85 million Instagram followers, 58 million Facebook fans, and 11 million Twitter followers, he’s one of the most internet-popular celebrities of our era. Here, we’ve rounded up some of the standout moments in recent years that have made the star so beloved by fans around the world.

When he befriended a toddler

The Rock has two daughters, so he’s no stranger to chilling with toddlers. In one instance, a two-year-old girl was visiting the set of his Kevin Hart buddy comedy Central Intelligence when he decided to make her dreams come true and let her “pull” an airplane. (The Rock, of course, is really doing the heavy lifting in this scenario.) But as he insists to her that she’s “so strong,” he gained plenty of fans impressed by his willingness to play along.

When he sideswiped a guy’s truck

One time in 2015, The Rock sideswiped a guy’s car in a parking lot. But — upstanding citizen that he is — Johnson didn’t flee the scene. Instead, he stuck around and told the car’s owner of his misdeed. As it happened, the unlucky other guy was a big Rock fan who ultimately refused to even accept money for the (minimal) damages. Instead, the duo took a photo and enjoyed a laugh together. They also enjoyed over half a million likes on their buddy pic.


When he considered a presidential run

After people were spotted holding up “Rock for President” campaign signs during the 2016 presidential election season, Johnson made some cheeky mentions of his potential political ambitions — to the joy of his followers and fans. In the past, he has said that some roles in the political area are “alluring” to him, so it’s certainly not something to rule out.

And he even mentioned he would consider becoming a leader “if I feel I can step up” in the future.

When he was the best life-sized Pikachu

Sometimes, being a good father includes dressing up in a giant, furry Pikachu costume and making your toddler daughter’s dreams come true for Halloween and Easter. At least, that’s The Rock’s take, as he’s donned the suit on multiple occasions at home with his family and young daughter Jasmine — and proved to his fandom that he has major dad chops.

When he rescued all of the puppies

Johnson, known animal rescuer, has not once but twice shared his exploits in the realm of saving endangered small dogs from unhappy futures. The first time, he jumped into his own pool to assist his French bulldog puppies Brutus and Hobbs who were having trouble swimming; Brutus had already begun sinking to the bottom of the pool. In the second instance, he happened upon some abandoned dogs while in Hawaii, and — after naming them J Lo and Beyoncé — sought loving owners for the rescues. (J Lo even approved of his choice of name.)

When he held a concert for veterans

Johnson hosted the first “Rock the Troops” concert in Hawaii to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor and celebrate today’s military members. He managed to bring together a crew of celebrities, from Jack Black to Kevin Hart to Nick Jonas, for an audience of about 50,000.

When he made fun of himself wearing a fanny pack

There’s an iconic photo that circulates every so often of a younger Rock in faded denim, a black turtleneck, and a fanny pack. Now and then, it pops up again as a meme. Johnson has always been happy to poke fun at himself — including this hilarious style moment — which fans re-create all the time.

When he shared some tough-love advice

In a birthday video taped for his dad, The Rock shared some of his father’s tough-love advice. “He used to tell me, ‘Hey—if you’re gonna cry or you’re gonna throw up, go outside. And then when you’re done throwing up, go home to your mom for sympathy,'” The Rock recalled of his father, who started training him in wrestling when he was just six. (His dad was also a WWE star.) With more than 2 million views, the message clearly resonated with his fandom.

When he encountered a fan with a tattoo of his face

Jimmy Fallon and The Rock decided to play a prank on visitors at NBC’s Universal Studios Theme Park, dressing up in mascot costumes of themselves and photobombing unsuspecting tourists. One time, however, The Rock revealed his true identity — only to discover that the tourist at hand was a major fan. Such a fan, in fact, that he had three tattoos of Johnson inked on his person.

When he impersonated Kevin Hart

Comedian Kevin Hart paired up with The Rock for Central Intelligence, a buddy spy comedy made all the better by the duo’s press rounds as they promoted the film. In one memorable instance, Johnson made an attempt to impersonate Hart’s distinctive style of talking — and vice versa. They ended up laughing so hard they cried, proving that some onscreen friendships extend into real life, too.

When he hosted SNL

It all came together for The Rock during his Saturday Night Live hosting gig in 2015 when he got to transform into new character “The Rock Obama,” making many fans’ dreams come true. In the epic cold open, Jay Pharaoh undergoes a Hulk-like transformation. And when the camera refocuses, it’s Johnson who’s making waves in the Oval Office.

When he enjoyed some major cheat meals

The Rock may follow a notoriously strict and fitness-oriented diet, but he also chows down on some serious cheat meals. Very serious cheat meals. Relatable, right?

When he launched the “People’s Eyebrow”

When Johnson raises an eyebrow, it’s not just a casual facial motion. It has a name: the “People’s Eyebrow.” And it’s what he’s famous for, going back decades. (Well, it’s what he was first known for other than his iconic slogan from back in his wrestling days: “Can you smell what The Rock is cooking?“)

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Write to Raisa Bruner at raisa.bruner@time.com