May 18, 2021
In The Mix

History Boys

Three young actors relate the backstory of a superstar on NBC’s Young Rock.

When you're a household name like Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, everyone thinks they know you... but Young Rock proves there's always more to the story.

Johnson's time-hopping NBC comedy finds the box-office hero campaigning to be president in 2032 and looking back at his formative years — with help from a few young lookalikes.

"It's all inspired by Dwayne's real life, and there are elements of truth in every single story," promises Nahnatchka Khan, an executive producer and a director of the series as well as cocreator and coshowrunner. "Dwayne's been so generous about wanting people to know where he's come from and the real [experiences] that made him."

While many viewers know Johnson's story and will recognize the icons he meets along the way, not all of this journey is pretty — and we're not just referring to the '80s and '90s fashion.

"We really lean into the clothes, the music and all of it," Khan says. "Dwayne has been in all these eras and places. His life has been so big, and he's been knocked down a lot. We wanted to investigate those moments between the big tentpole moments. It's challenging but super fun."

Adrian Groulx

As 10-year-old "Dewey," Adrian Groulx takes viewers to Hawaii in 1982. "This is the era where you're surrounded by the family of professional wrestlers that Dwayne lived with and learned from," says Nahnatchka Kahn, the show's cocreator. "Little Dwayne was already headstrong and curious. He felt like he was wised up to the game and would talk with the adults like he was on their level. Adrian just embodies Dwayne in that era!"

"Bradley Constant gets to play Dwayne when he's going down a bad path," Khan explains. "In 1987, Dwayne's father, Rocky, is no longer wrestling for the WWF. Money is the primary focus and Dwayne doesn't have it. He's shoplifting, he's lying, he's pretending to be rich to impress girls. We couldn't find a 15-year- old who looked the way Dwayne did at 15, but Bradley's got that baby face. It's uncanny!"

Bradley Constant

Uli Latukefu

Uli Latukefu , who's also set to appear in Taika Waititi's forthcoming film Next Goal Wins, explores Johnson's University of Miami football years in the early '90s. "Dwayne's sole focus was to get into the NFL and change his family's life," Khan says. "And then he suffers unexpected setbacks and really struggles. But he still always has that fun spark. He's still Dwayne. Uli does an amazing job at capturing both those sides of him at that time."




Catch-up viewing of Young Rock is available at NBC.com and Peacock.

This article originally appeared in emmy magazine, Issue No. 4, 2021

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