Fresh off the buzz surrounding Black Adam, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is stronger and more vulnerable than ever. He prides himself on being the hardest worker in any room he’s in, an ethic that’s kept him at the head of the Hollywood pack for more than two decades now. And as he enters his 50s, Johnson’s not letting up. For Men’s Health’s December issue cover story, Johnson reveals how he got in the best shape of his life and shares his tactics for maintaining happiness, muscle, and balance. Plus, in his Men’s Health “Eat Like” video, Johnson breaks down his “boring” yet highly effective diet, his favorite cheat day snacks and more.
On getting in the best shape of his life for Black Adam: “That was our goal, for me to bring in the best physique possible. So the challenge with that is not only do you set the bar high—which is fine . . . bring it on!—but then you realize you have to maintain that for months.”
On what excited him about the Black Adam role: “What excited me about it was delivering a character in the superhero genre that had never been seen before. No actors had played Black Adam. In addition, but more important, is the opportunity to disrupt the superhero genre. You have a character like Black Adam, who is, depending on how you interpret his philosophies—is he a superhero, an antihero, or just a bad dude? Now, the difference is in Superman there’s a code of ethics that Superman abides by, which is why he is the greatest superhero. Superman won’t kill anyone. Black Adam, on the other hand, you can’t finish your sentence if you mean harm to him or his family.”
On identifying with Black Adam and playing against public perception: “I’ve identified so deeply with Black Adam. . . . Yes, he lives in a gray area, but his philosophy is black-and-white. If you hurt the ones I love or my country, you’re going to pay. And there are no questions asked. There’s no bringing you to justice. There’s no apprehending you. You die. What also was very appealing to me, and I think will appeal to a lot of people, is that you can’t put him in a box and you can’t say, ‘You have to be like this. You can’t do this. You have to do that.’ I felt like I experienced that throughout my career when I first got to Hollywood 20 years ago: ‘You can’t call yourself the Rock. You can’t talk about pro wrestling. You can’t be this big. You can’t work out as much. Change your diet. Lose weight. If you want to be like Will Smith, Johnny Depp, George Clooney, who were the stars at that time, this is how you have to be.’ Well, I tried that on for a few years, and then finally I said, “Man, f*ck this. I can’t be like that. I’m not those guys. I could never be those guys. I’m not in a box. Don’t tell me how to be. I’m going to be myself.’”
On training for Black Adam, and the challenge to maintain that [physique] for months: “What’s interesting is we could have said, ‘F*ck this—put the muscle pads in the suit,’ as they normally do. And it’s not a knock to my friends at all, but I felt like, ‘Let’s be disruptive and let’s do it differently.’ Let’s take all the muscle pads out, which we did, from Black Adam. When you have that suit on, every detail shows. Man, it was constant work, constant tweaking, tweaking, tweaking for months.”
On turning 50: “At 40, I said, ‘Okay, I’m going to spend the next decade training as smart as I can, balancing out training and family and work, being an open sponge, learning every day but also not worrying about ego training, not worrying about the weight that I’m putting on the bar, pushing myself so hopefully, by the time I hit the fifth level, my joints are feeling great and I’m still able to not only maintain but add real muscle and some really dense muscle.’ That’s a long answer to tell you I’m feeling pretty good.”
On being a creature of habit: “I am a real creature of habit. I usually eat the same thing every day for days and weeks and months. It’s very consistent. It’s very boring. It’s also extremely disciplined. That’s something I picked up from my old man, who was a hardcore gym fanatic. He taught me very early on not to eat to please the tongue but to eat to nourish the body. He taught me that when I was five. That’s probably why I need therapy.”
On the “psychological nourishment” that comes from training: “I really feel that there are fundamental skills that you learn in the gym in terms of discipline, working through your fatigue, pushing past what you perceive as a limit. ’Cause there’s greatness on the other side.”
On how training helps him to manage depression: “During those times when I fell into and was challenged by depression, the gym became my best friend—and I know it’s like that for a lot of people. You’re able to go to the gym to sweat out toxins and get a little bit more clarity when you walk out the door. It doesn’t fix the problem, but it helps.”
The December 2022 issue of Men’s Health featuring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson hits newsstands nationwide on November 22.
[Photo Credit: Flannery Underwood for Men’s Health Magazine]
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