Dwayne Johnson – one of the most recognizable faces on the planet – is also, for good reason, one of the highest-paid actors in recent times. A decade or two ago, that was hardly the case. The Rock’s story of his extraordinary life and career(s) throughout the past 3 decades is well known to those who have paid attention to the retired athlete turned pro-wrestler turned actor and businessman’s history.
Taking into account how many theatres he has sold out with his impressively executed yet one-time watch-worthy action movies, and how people would still flock to the theatres no questions asked assured of a good time in the movies, it is safe to deduce that not many have been able to secure his level of success this rapidly in the industry. But all this love, fame, and immeasurable success did not come without the designated period that every successful person needs to go through at the start of their career: the struggling artist phase.
Dwayne Johnson Defies Hollywood Expectations & Sets a Bar
20 years ago, Will Smith was the biggest name in the industry – capable of selling out theatres at the drop of a hat with the simple mention of his name on a movie poster. Perhaps not the most elite A-lister considering the presence of such actors ranging from Tom Hanks to Tom Cruise, but Smith most definitely ranked among the most famously beloved by the audience. Dwayne Johnson, after his transition from WWE into Hollywood, aspired to achieve the kind of unequivocal success that Will Smith had acquired through the years.
When an agency was hired to represent the aspiring actor and the former People’s Champion, a request was eventually placed to these people whose professional responsibility was to put Dwayne Johnson on the map. The Red Notice actor later revealed during a speech at an L.A. Lakers event:
“Will Smith is my boy but at that time I sat down with the agency that I was with, and they said what do you want to accomplish? I said, I want to accomplish the world, I want the world and I want Will Smith’s career, but I want to do it bigger and better. And they looked at me like I had three heads. And they were like, Umm, yea, okay.”
The Rock’s agent laughed off the request at the time considering how he was just starting in Hollywood and Will Smith was already the biggest name there was. 20 years later, Dwayne Johnson has not only out-earned Will Smith by millions but is also the highest-paid actor in Hollywood. And taking into account their celebrity net worth, Johnson’s is estimated at a staggering $800 million while Smith rounds off at about $350 million.
Dwayne Johnson: Breaking Records Since 1999
Dwayne Johnson’s dreams have been coming true in astounding forms. And although the actor has proven his skills on the grandest stage of all as the Brahma Bull, he is yet to do so on the most prestigious of them all when it comes to Hollywood – the Oscars. This may well be the one factor lacking in The Rock’s career when drawn up in comparison to Will Smith’s. However, this is not to say Johnson is without his merits.
Since the start of his career, the former wrestler has been breaking records. After making his debut on television with a cameo on That 70’s Show, he went on to star in an episode of Star Trek: Voyager (look out for his signature cocked eyebrow as he parades about as an alien gladiator), and within a month of that, Dwayne Johnson hosts SNL for the first time. In 2001, he appears as the primary antagonist in Brendan Fraser‘s highly-successful Mummy franchise threequel. A year later, he headlines his first film, The Scorpion King, and breaks the Guinness World Record for the biggest salary by a debut actor in his first feature film.
The road from there was infinitely harder and an uphill battle for The Rock but that story is for another time. For now, Dwayne Johnson sits comfortably at the top with an estimated $90 million per annum earnings, $10 million more than Will Smith.