Dwayne Johnson thunders into movie theaters with a new version of Hercules this week, directed by Brett Ratner. Johnson's commanding physicality and gregarious personality ensures that the mythical hero will be a sight to behold. Yet behind the friendly smile lurks a horror-filled past.
Johnson, a former football player for the national championship-winning University of Miami, got his start as a professional wrestler known as the Rock. Though he was more of a heel than a hero in the ring, his charisma and wrestling prowess won over many fans; his popularity grew and he become champion many times over. He hosted Saturday Night Live in 2000, a charming appearance that led to offers from Hollywood.
He made his feature-film debut in The Mummy Returns (2001). As the Scorpion King, don't let the smile fool you; he plays a fear-inspiring warrior. Later in the movie, he comes back in even more frightening form, fully living up to his character's name.
That led to his first starring role in The Scorpion King (2002). Motivated by vengeance, his character acts in a heroic manner only on occasion, but Johnson's performance is most notable for its scary ferocity.
He played a key role in Doom (2005), a horror-filled action thriller.
After switching his career to focus on family-friendly comedies, Johnson starred in Disney's Race to Witch Mountain (2009), which featured children with paranormal powers that were, frankly, a bit scary.
Signaling his return to more adult-oriented fare, Faster (2010) featured Johnson as an ex-con who seeks revenge on behalf of his late brother. The thriller revolves around Johnson's single-minded, homicidal character, who presented a very frightening facade.
Dwayne Johnson excels at playing likable action heroes, but we can't wait until he taps once more into the dark side of his personality in a horror-oriented movie.