How Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson Went From WWE Wrestler To Hollywood's Box Office Champ

Dwayne Johnson, The ESPYSJason Merritt/Getty ImagesHere’s how Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson became one of the top earning actors in Hollywood.

During his wrestling days, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was known as the “People’s Champion.

But thanks to franchises like “Journey to the Center of the Earth” and “Fast and the Furious,” Johnson is now better known as Hollywood’s box office champion.

In total, his movies have made $4.3 billion worldwide, which helped make him Forbes’ top-grossing actor of 2013. This year, he ranked No.2 after pulling in a whopping $US52 million.

This weekend, he appeared in Brett Ratner’s “Hercules,” which beat tracking estimates to bring in $29 million opening weekend.

Here’s how Dwayne Johnson went from WWE wrestler to one of the top-grossing stars in the film industry.

Before he was 'The Rock,' Dwayne Johnson was born May 2, 1972, in Hayward, California.

Source: Biography

Wrestling is in Johnson's blood. His father, Rocky 'Soul Man' Johnson, was a member of the first African American tag-team champions and his grandfather, Peter Maivia, was of the first Samoan wrestlers.

Johnson's wrestler father, Rocky, on the right.

Source: YouTube

But Johnson's first sport was football. After being a high school star, he joined college football team, the Miami Hurricanes. Over his tenure at the school, Johnson only started once but appeared in 39 games, had 77 tackles, and was a part of the 1991 national championship team.

Source: ESPN

The University of Miami was also where he met first wife, Dany Garcia. The two separated after 10 years, but have stayed close. 'Since our divorce, we've become pretty good at working together, and we are also raising our beautiful 11-year-old daughter, Simone,' Johnson has said.

Source: Huffington Post

If not for serious injuries to both his shoulders and back, Johnson's football career could have taken him to the NFL.

Instead, he ended up playing in the Canadian Football League only making $US250 a week, and eventually getting cut. 'The dreams I had, they're dashed,' he explained. 'There is no more football. My relationship was crushed. That was my absolute worst time.'

After stepping away from football, Johnson looked into the family business of wrestling. After spending time in the WWE's minor leagues, he debuted on TV at the 1996 Survivor Series as 'Rocky Maivia' (a combination of his father and grandfather's name).

Source: YouTube

The first third-generation wrestler in WWE history, he is considered by many to be one of the greatest wrestlers to ever enter the ring.

Source: WWE, Bleacher Report

During his many years at the WWE, he created and became known for signature moves like 'The People's Elbow' and 'The Rock Bottom.'

Johnson was a huge deal in the wrestling world, winning the WWE Heavyweight Title six times and holding the Tag Team Title five times.

Source: Biography

Being an incredibly popular wrestler put Johnson on Hollywood's radar. This included getting a call from New York about hosting 'Saturday Night Live.' After he was asked to host, Johnson says, 'I fell out of my chair.'

Source: YouTube

The wrestler's stint on 'SNL' (as seen below playing the monkey-human hybrid, Papa Peepers) was a ratings success. Most importantly, the gig showed Hollywood that Johnson wasn't just another wrestler -- he could really act.

Source: YouTube

Johnson made his feature film debut in 2001's 'The Mummy Returns' playing a villainous ruler. He reprised the role in 'The Scorpion King' where he made $US5.5 million, the most any actor has made for their first leading role.

Source: MTV

It wasn't until 2003's 'The Rundown' that people began to see him as a legitimate action hero. 'The Rock has a flair for action and comedy,' wrote Rolling Stone. 'He's a real movie star.'

Source: Rolling Stone

The film also included a brief cameo by Arnold Schwarzenegger, which many critics like Roger Ebert saw as the passing of the action movie torch. 'Whether The Rock will rival Schwarzenegger's long run as an action hero is hard to say,' Ebert wrote. 'But on the basis of 'The Rundown,' he has a good chance.'

Source: Roger

As his career began to take off, he dropped 'The Rock' from his name. ''The Rock' was a name, a character I created in TV,' he said. 'When I made the transition into film, I knew eventually I was going to be billed as my given name.'

Source: LA Times

He showed his range by playing in family films like 2007's 'The Game Plan' and comedies like 'The Other Guys' in 2010. 'I felt there were bigger and better opportunities,' said Johnson. 'I also felt there was franchise potential, hopefully multiple franchises in every genre -- whether drama or comedy or action-comedy.'

Johnson finally got his franchise when he appeared in the fifth instalment of the popular 'Fast and the Furious' series, 'Fast Five,' alongside Vin Diesel. 'I've known Vin for a long time and we've always talked about doing something together,' Johnson said. 'This felt like the right opportunity to create a formidable adversary for him.'

Source: Screenrant

'Fast Five' was also an opportunity for Johnson to work again with Universal, the studio where he started his career. 'They were the first studio to believe in me when I was making the transition... into acting and helping me create opportunities,' Johnson said.

Source: Collider

The film went on to make $US676 million worldwide and Johnson appeared in 2013's sequel 'Fast & Furious 6.' He'll also be in next summer's 'Fast & Furious 7.'

Source: Box Office Mojo

Since then, he's appeared in two more franchises 'G.I. Joe: Retaliation' and 'Journey 2: The Mysterious Island.'

Throughout his career, the one thing that has separated Johnson from many is his work ethic. The actor put on '12 to 15 pounds of muscle' for 2013's 'Pain and Gain.' Between himself and co-star Mark Wahlberg, the actors were eating 17 meals a day.

Source: Yahoo

Johnson's latest appearance is in 'Hercules,' a re-telling of the mythological Greek hero.

'Hercules was by far my most demanding role,' Johnson said. 'Very taxing on the body -- physically, mentally and every which way in between. Funny thing is, if I had to do it all over again ... I'd do it twice.'

Source: Reddit AMA

Even though Johnson's acting career is going strong, he has returned to the ring for events like Wrestlemania. 'I'm back, not for money, not because I like being on the road, but because I love the business,' he said.

Source: Huffington Post

Last year, Johnson was in four films which made more than $US1 billion at theatres. In 2013, Forbes named him the highest-earning actor in Hollywood. This year he was ranked No.2 after raking in $US52 million in a single year.

Source: Forbes

Next up, Johnson will take his talents to TV as executive producer and star of the new HBO comedy 'Ballers,' about a group of football players. He is also currently filming 'San Andreas' and is rumoured to be reprising his role in 'Journey 3: From the Earth to the Moon.'

Now that you've seen Dwayne Johnson's career trajectory...

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