Sometimes I go into an interview a wee bit nervous. This was one of those times. Everything I had heard about Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson had been nothing, but good, so I was hoping he lived up to it. Boy, did he ever. He a crazy multitasker. He produces, acts, has a youtube channel, apps, clothing, is a wrestler, but he still finds time to make his daughters and girlfriend the most important people in his life. Did I mention how incredibly good looking he is? I can definitely see why PEOPLE magazine named him Sexiest Man Alive. Just look at the pics here. Hotness is radiating from him. Ok, ok. Enough about how he is every woman’s fantasy come to life, let’s get to the interview. He brings such a heartfelt performance to MOANA because it means a lot to him personally. He wanted to get this right. Not only for himself, but for his culture and boy did he deliver. Now off to the interview:
Q: Why was it important for you to do this role?
DJ: What’s that thing? Money. [LAUGHTER] It was important for me to do the role because it was a great opportunity to showcase our Polynesian culture to the world. I’m half Samoan and half black. I felt I wasn’t too sure that I was ever going to get the opportunity again to showcase culture, and it—our culture’s very rich and we’re very proud of it and it was also, an opportunity to work with Disney in this capacity. In a classic animated capacity with the element of music. I’ve done two Disney movies in the past. Live action movies, but this it’s a different machine. It’s still the same umbrella, but it’s a different machine, and again, the opportunity to hopefully make a movie that was not only good, but you have a real good shot at creating something that was like a classic. And that’s what I wanted to do.
Q: What was the biggest challenge?
DJ: It’s just a different muscle to exercise, and it was almost like a baptism by fire and I had a lot of help around me which was nice, and what I mean by the help is, finding ways to really add real zest and life to words… and to sentences, and as you’re articulating things and in conversations with Moana, who’s played by— Auli’i. So it was that, I’d say, that was the biggest challenge – making sure that the words that I spoke had life and the correct energy and the correct temperament and tone and intonation where it had to go to different places and pitch and things like that. It was a real fascinating experience, for me.
Q: You’re so much more versatile than people give you credit for. Talk about the rapping you did in this role.
DJ: Yes. Let me talk a little bit about that – yes! Of course. So I used the word opportunity before; it was a great opportunity to push myself, and to sing,. The bar’s set very high in a Disney movie when there’s he element of music. I felt confident going in because I felt confident that I could prepare and do the things that I can control.
And also surround me with really amazing collaborators musically. Like, masterful musical – people, and Lin-Manuel, and Opetaia, by the way, Mark Mancina, there’s just— very, very special. I was excited to sing a song, and to Lin’s credit, he did a lot of deep dive research, and I’ve sung in the past, but fun, like I would go on a talk show – Ellen, or something – and I would break out a guitar and sing, and just make it kind of fun and silly. But he did his research and he found a comfortable range that I could sing in, and then he also pushed me a little bit, and I had a real, real, real good time. And rapping too and the whole thing, so… I’m a rapper.
Q: What do you want people to take away from the film?
DJ: I think there’s a few messages that people can take away from the movie. I also think, you know, that’s a wonderful thing I think about entertainment, and movies, and books that we read. We all have different interpretations of it. I think the cultural aspect is something that that is very cool. I love that. I also think that they did a tremendous job of representing our culture in a way that makes us proud, and first there was a little bit of hesitance, from all of us by the way, but it was quickly quelled when I sat with John Lasseter and our filmmakers and they had taken me through their process.
So by the time the script got to me, they’d already done years of research in going to all the different islands, and speaking with the high chiefs, and, all the villages and trying to understand the cultures, which comes out in the authenticity, I think, of the writing. So the takeaway would be showcasing our culture, and seeing that there’s a wonderful quality of our culture, and there’s a fierceness to our culture too, as well, and a tremendous pride.
Also too I think there’s a great takeaway that, speaks to all cultures, and ages, and religions, and everything else that our world has. We have this little voice inside of us, and to always make sure that we got to follow that voice, and listen to the voice – a gut intuition, and have that kind of faith, not necessarily religious faith, but faith that there is more. And you can be more. Kind of relevant today, right? So… I would say that.
Q: As a father, and being such a successful businessman, do you have any time management tips?
DJ: Oh boy. Yeah, what a great question, right? It’s a constant management of trying to figure out the balance. Lauren and I are consistently checking in with ourselves on where can we improve? What kind of support do we need? How can we improve our time? What can we do and find the balance. I think it’s just, for us, it’s just been a consistent management of time check-in, and are we doing the right things at the right time, um… are we checking our ego at the door and asking for help where we need it and you know, ‘cause we find that there’s a lot of people around in our families and friends, our circle, who are willing to say, “I got you! You know, what do you need? What can I help you—“ and then so often, especially with Lauren, especially with you moms, it’s, “I can do it. I got it. No no no, I’ll get it. I’ll get it.” So it’s just for us, it’s been just a consistent check-in.
Q: So beside the eyebrows, what else do you see in Maui that’s you?
DJ: Yeah there was a good amount that was infused in Maui. I think that there’s a part of Maui that I can appreciate, because it’s my DNA; I share that with him. There’s a fun side to Maui, and a need to keep things and a desire to keep things fun, and keep them a little bit on the lighter side, not quick to show the vulnerability, and not quick to go down that route. So, I would say that. Yeah. And some bravado, a lot of bravado, because you can mask a lot with bravado. Yes.
In Theaters Nov. 23
For centuries, the greatest sailors in the world masterfully navigated the vast Pacific, discovering the many islands of Oceania. But then, 3,000 years ago, their voyages stopped for a millennium – and no one knows exactly why.
From Walt Disney Animation Studios comes “Moana,” a sweeping, CG-animated feature film about an adventurous teenager who is inspired to leave the safety and security of her island on a daring journey to save her people. Inexplicably drawn to the ocean, Moana (voice of Auliʻi Cravalho) convinces the mighty demigod Maui (voice of Dwayne Johnson) to join her mission, and he reluctantly helps her become a wayfinder like her ancestors who sailed before her. Together, they voyage across the open ocean on an action-packed adventure, encountering enormous monsters and impossible odds, and along the way, Moana fulfills her quest and discovers the one thing she’s always sought: her own identity. Directed by the renowned filmmaking team of Ron Clements and John Musker (“The Little Mermaid,” “Aladdin,” “The Princess & the Frog”), produced by Osnat Shurer (“Lifted,” “One Man Band”), and featuring music by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Mark Mancina and Opetaia Foa‘i, “Moana” sails into U.S. theaters on Nov. 23, 2016.
***Disclosure: I attended the #MOANAEvent My flight, lodgings, and expenses were covered by Disney All opinions are 100% mine. ***