Meeting The Rock is transcendent. Meeting Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is like meeting Jesus. Fact about meeting The Rock: it is like there is a light behind him that is always beaming. It is not impossible that The Rock emanates light. Fact: The Rock is the healthiest looking man alive. You look at The Rock and go, like, "Damn, I gotta eat a carrot, like, right now. I have to put some vitamins into my body." The Rock is there, looking like he could go a thousand more years, two thousand more years, and suddenly you go, "Hey: I don't even know my own blood pressure. I could die any minute and I wouldn't even know it." Empires will rise and empires will fall before The Rock decides to die. The continents will be razed and we will live on a system of pods on the moon. And still The Rock will beam on.
The Rock is also in a new film with Kevin Hart this week, and I should mention that. It's called Central Intelligence.
Previously, I wrote an extremely long profile saying how great The Rock is and how much I love The Rock and &c. &c., and when you've done something like that it's actually extremely hard to then face that person in real life and act normally around them. Like: normally in interviews I am fine. But for this one I went in with six prints of Dan Evans' incredible illustrations of The Rock – two for me, two for Dan, two for The Rock, as if The Rock is going to fly home with these prints and frame them and look at them every day – and I am stuttering, asking him to sign them.
"It's fine there, buddy," The Rock said, being really The Rock at me. "We'll sign them afterwards." And so I interviewed The Rock (a perfect angel put on earth to remind us all to be good) and Kevin Hart (a comedian who is kind of bafflingly not-as-famous-as-he-should-be over here) under the guise of promoting their new film, Central Intelligence, out this week. But instead we ended up spending most of the time talking about that time The Rock nearly ripped his leg off while wrestling.
VICE: What was your first email address?
The Rock: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kevin Hart: I've never heard of an email that dumb in my life.
TR: It was my dead grandmother.
KH: Well, OK, not a problem – that's a perfect email, actually.
Why did you break up with your first girlfriend?
Why did I break up, bro? I realised I was a sex idol and needed to do the world a service, so I had to make myself available.
What was your worst phase?
TR: My worst phase was dying my hair; I had blonde strips in my hair… [Extremely disappointed look from VICE to The Rock] – I know, I know. It was probably a couple inches long, so I'd put blonde strips from here all the way back, then I went mohawk crazy, then I dyed it. I went through that phase and it was a real rebelling phase when I was 13, 14, 15. I was rebelling and I was angry. I should've been angry at the fucking barber who got my hair like that.
How many books have you actually read and finished in the past year?
KH: How many books?
TR: Seuss books don't count
KH: Goodness gracious. Three.
TR: Oh yeah? Which ones?
KH: Honestly? Monster – that's a book that I read. Then a dope book that somebody wrote on the life of Richard Pryor. What's the third one? I've definitely read one more… oh, I read Think Like a Man.
TR: Of course, yeah. Steve Harvey's book.
KH: I was like, 'Goddamnit, I gotta read a book,' so I read Steve Harvey's book, but that was a long time ago – the other two are recent. I'm killing these questions, by the way.
What conspiracy theory do you believe?
TR: I don't. Well – it all depends, I think, on how we would qualify aliens. So, let's qualify it now. If I believe in them, would that mean I don't believe in conspiracy theories?
Do you believe in aliens?
Yeah, of course. I believe that we're not the only ones; it'd be arrogant to think that. I can't think of any conspiracy theories… not that trigger me, nothing that comes up.
When in your life have you been truly overcome with fear?
KH: Truly overcome with fear? In Australia, my first time going. I'm coming out of the house I was staying in – I was filming a movie over there – and there were two huntsman spiders, and they're the size of your hand; y'know, they jump on you. One of them jumped, and that shit freaked me. Oh my god, it gives me the chills thinking about it. True story, huntsman spiders.
What would be your last meal?
TR: Buffalo and sweet potato, about an hour-and-a-half ago. Oh wait, I'm sorry, my last meal?
KH: He died? What you talking about? Somebody didn't tell me?
TR: If I was checking out… uh, uh I see. Does a woman count?
KH: That's a great answer. I'm about to check out, I want my food. Give me the bang, I want the shebang.
TR: Then I'll be hungry.
If you were a wrestler what song would you come into the ring to?
TR: "It's Raining Men."
KH: If I was a wrestler what song would I come in to? "I'm About to Tear Shit Up".
TR: That's an original?
KH: No, Lil Jon. That's a Lil Jon song. It's a crazy song. [Singing] "Yeah! I'm about to tear shit up / Get a bitch, make her throw up." There's a whole bunch of that stuff in there. That'd be it – just saying, "I'm about to tear shit up," cause I'm coming in the ring to tear shit up, so I figure the song goes with it. I tear shit up all the time.
What's the grossest injury or illness you've ever had?
KH: We talking about DJ? Cause he's got a hot batch of STDs
TR: You wanna talk about that?
KH: Hot batch of crabs.
KH: Nothing penicillin can't clear up!
[At this point, I have to tell you, The Rock is about to tell the most engrossing story I've ever seen told in my entire life – room falling silent, full Obama voice, hand gestures, the fucking works. There was a PR lady in the room who started doing the "wrap it up" motion halfway through, but The Rock kept going; he just kept on telling this story about his leg. I mean, it was like a sermon or something—]
TR: It's a good one. I was wrestling a match, there were 80,000 people – it was Wrestlemania, actually. The match was scheduled to be 50 minutes of actual wrestling. At about the 15-minute mark, a suplex that I took had gone a little bit too high – a little bit too far – and just landed kind of improperly, so the moment I landed I tore the top of my quad from my pelvis and landed… bang.
So I was laying there, like, 'Fuck, something's wrong,' and the referee came over and was like, "Are you OK?" I was like, "Hold on, I gotta check." This was in front of 80,000 people, remember, so I kinda rolled over and stuck my hand down my trunks just to see if there was any, like, bone sticking out – and there wasn't, so I was like, "Shit, well there's nothing breaking through the skin." I said to him, "How much more time do we have left in the match?" and he goes, "About 25 minutes," and I was like, "Oh fuck."
So now you're at a crossroads: you can call the match and just say, "I can't go on," or continue to go on so the other guy can win. So I just said, "I'm gonna continue to go on," because this was an important match. It was the main event, plus I was crowning a new champion and it was important… and so on and so on. Then I started continuing to wrestle, and when I got up I realised, 'Oh, OK.' It was one of those things where the top of your quad should do that [motions a quad muscle pulling his leg, then a hand gesture that suggests the quad muscle was not actually doing that any more].
KH: Oh shit.
TR: So I kinda just had to do that [mimics stiff, Frankenstein's monster-type walk] where just, kind of, momentum would bring my leg forward. So I continued to wrestle in the match and everything got weaker.
KH: Did you let him know, though?
TR: Who, my opponent?
TR: I did not. Because—
KH: You didn't wanna mess with his performance—
TR: — correct, and I didn't want him thinking about me and then, like, him do something to me and think he had to do it softer or lighter. Just let me go through my shit. Because that's what you do. If you told me you were hurt, I'd do everything to protect you.
KH: It's gonna alter what I'm doing in the ring for my big day.
TR: Yes, and if you were gonna do something big to me you'd do it, but you wouldn't do it as big.
KH: [To me, frantically, because Kevin Hart loves The Rock the same way we all do] This shows why he's the guy that he is – he doesn't wanna stand in another guy's moment and take away from his moment!
TR: It was his moment – you're right – because he was getting ready to be champion. So anyway, it was painful throughout the final 25 minutes. The last move was the biggest move of the night – it's his big finishing move where he gets me on his back, launches me up, holds my head here, my feet come way up here… bang! And he throws me down. So I remember just waiting, and I knew I was getting ready to get this move, and I was talking to the big man upstairs and I was like, "Please, God, make this OK, make this OK". He gives it to me – BANG! – and I feel – BANG! – something else, and my adductor tendon – which runs all the way into your pelvis – was completely torn off my pelvis, dude.
So then we finish the match, I went to the back, immediately had the ortho doctors come in, check me, and he says, "I can't see anything," but clearly I know something's wrong. So then that night I flew to Miami, got the MRI – next day, MRI doctor comes in laughing. He says, "Heh, heh, heh, yeah: it's not possible that you can be walking." I was thinking, 'What is it?' He goes: "You tore two tendons completely off your pelvis; it's really, truly fucked up," and I said, "What have we got to do?" He says, "Well, if you have surgery you're gonna be out for over a year" – and I was filming Hercules; I had six weeks to get ready for Hercules.
TR: And I said, "What if you don't?" and he goes, "If you don't it's gonna scar tissue up, and then you'll just go about your life." Now, I wasn't a pro player or anything like that, right, so I knew that was probably gonna be one of my last matches, if not my last, but I'd made it my last. So with all that weakness, two weeks later the leg weakness works up and it weakens your abdominal wall and then that's when I had emergency hernia surgery, because with a weak abdomen wall your guts start coming out. I had a big sausage, like, right here; I was like, "What the fuck is this?" I went to go see the doctor and he was like, "Oh man…"
KH: You gotta get surgery.
TR: So I lay down and he goes, "Alright, just take a breath." You feel him push your guts back in, and he goes: "Come on, we gotta have surgery." It was three surgeries in the end. Boom, boom, boom. That's my story!
THE ROCK IS A HERO WHO DISLOCATED HIS ENTIRE FUCKING LEG SO JOHN CENA COULD WIN A WRESTLING BELT. MAKE HIM THE PRESIDENT OF EARTH IMMEDIATELY. CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE IS IN CINEMAS ON WEDNESDAY.
Previously on the VICE interview: