10 Movies That Prove Dwayne The Rock Johnson Is The Best Wrestler-Turned-Actor – Collider

Smell what The Rock has been cooking, from a decades-spanning prolific Hollywood career.
When thinking of some all-time great actors, it isn’t often that wrestlers are thrown into the mix as contenders. Many have tried to go from the ring to the screen, but very few have done so successfully. From the amazing Andre the Giant, to Hulk Hogan, John Cena, and Dave BautistaDwayne Johnson comes out as the most successful and talented ring-to-screen transition.
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Dwayne Johnson may have had a slow start with (often scene-stealing) small roles and ancillary characters, but he is one of today’s most sought-after leading men in film, and for good reason. He can do comedy, he can do drama, he absolutely can do action, and he has finally taken the leap into the superhero genre. He has such range, and it shows why he is the best of all wrestlers turned actors.
One of his more recent successes, Red Notice stars Johnson alongside Gal Gadot and Ryan Reynolds in an exciting heist film with twists, turns, and comedy. Johnson does an incredible job portraying John Hartley, an FBI agent searching for an ancient bejeweled eggs from First Century BC. The dynamic between Johnson, Gadot, and Reynolds is excellent and all held together by Johnson’s character.
Throughout the entire film, Johnson exhibits his acting range. He is funny, he is serious, he is romantic, he really does cover the entire spectrum of ability. Johnson proves through the entire film, that he is more than just a wrestler, and more so, that he is more than just an amateur actor. There is a reason that he is a leading man in film today: He earned it.
Disney has a tendency to make films based on their popular theme park attractions. With amazingly successful series like Pirates of the Caribbean, to less successful attempts like The Haunted Mansion, this most recent attempt shows Disney’s persistence. Johnson stars as Frank Wolff, a steamboat skipper who gives guided tours – not unlike the ride of the same name at Disneyland – with some secrets to be revealed.
With the help of Emily Blunt and Jack Whitehall, Jungle Cruise taps into all the cheesy jokes that you’ve likely heard a dozen times on the ride and really gives an amazing backstory to various aspects of the ride. Not only does this film hit all the delightful emotional memories of a lifetime of experiences on the ride, but it shows that Dwayne Johnson has some very entertaining aces up his sleeve.
Image via Sony Pictures
While there was a great deal of apprehension with this film, several people thought it would be a bad idea to reboot a Robin Williams classic. What came of this film, however, is something that is truly incredible and even touching how it honors Williams’ character, Alan Parrish, from the original film. As Johnson and his co-stars (Jack Black, Kevin Hart, and Karen Gillan) struggle through the jungle, they find clues for survival left by Williams’ character.
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This film, call it a sequel, call it a reboot, call it whatever you want, turned out to be an incredibly pleasant surprise and truly showed how Johnson really can play any character. While he looked like himself, Johnson played the avatar of a shy and nerdy kid who was insecure in himself. Johnson really brought those sentiments to his character, and it is an absolute joy to watch.
Even though his character was animated, it is absolutely fair to include this role. Maui, the demigod of the wind and sea, is all Dwayne Johnson. The swagger, the goofball antics, all of it exudes Johnson’s personality. Not only was Maui one of the most beloved characters in recent history, but he also helped the world to see that Dwayne Johnson can sing, too!
Johnson shows so much versatility in this role, and all he did was lend his voice, which goes to show just how great of an actor he truly is. To be able to elicit the emotion that he could by simply using nothing more than his voice, Dwayne Johnson is truly one of the best, and his character is so beloved, that it spawned an upcoming Disney+ series.
Based on an arcade came of the same name, Rampage follows Johnson as Davis Okoye, a former special forces agent and current anti-poaching soldier. An albino gorilla named George that he had befriended becomes infected by a gene-manipulating pathogen in space, mutating a lab rat, a crocodile, and finally George the albino gorilla.
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If you have played the game, then you probably could have assumed the absolute chaos that would follow, and while cheesy, it is an amazing adaptation. Johnson’s emotional range is exhibited in this film, which might come as a surprise, based on the subject. He truly delivers an amazing performance.
This movie is truly underrated. It stars Johnson alongside Mark Wahlberg and Anthony Mackie as well as several other incredibly talented actors. Pain & Gain follows the real-life activities of the Sun Gym gang, who were a group of bodybuilders convicted of kidnapping, torture, murder, and several other crimes in the 90s.
While the film was not considered a huge box-office success, it showed an outstanding new version of Johnson in film. Born out of good intentions, the group, led by Wahlberg, works towards extorting the finances of one of the gym’s new members. Johnson plays this role to perfection, an ex-con and drug addict turned religious vigilante; the way he brings the character to life makes it worth indulging.
Dwayne Johnson really came into his acting career with The Rundown. This 2003 action-comedy movie about a bounty hunter (Johnson) sent to collect one final debt, a client’s son (Seann William Scott), before he gets out of the business. They end up going on a wild adventure in the jungle of Brazil and experiencing a vast cornucopia of escapades.
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As one of Johnson’s first leading roles, The Rundown helps him to shine and demonstrate his acting and comedic prowess. Through this film, Johnson established himself as more than just a wrestler and more than just a supporting role actor. He is a leading actor, and this film was the beginning of an amazing ascent to stardom.
Written as a sequel to Get Shorty, Be Cool stars John Travolta, Vince Vaughn, Uma Thurman, and Dwayne Johnson (among several others). Johnson stars as Eliot Wilhelm, a gay bodyguard who is also an aspiring actor who is not successful in his acting. Johnson rocks the most incredible perm and his character’s personality is, very likely, the greatest thing about the entire film.
Johnson delivers his lines with such perfect comedic timing, and he demonstrates that he’s not just a meathead wrestler. He’s a real actor with real talent. He really does carry the film. While it is a good enough film, it is Johnson’s presence that really makes it the quality that it is.
Despite having a very small role in the first twenty minutes of the film, Dwayne Johnson genuinely stole each scene he was in with The Other Guys. His character’s charismatic pompous attitude coupled with the great chemistry he had with Samuel L. Jackson, truly made his brief moments in the film likely among the best of the whole thing.
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Johnson played a hotshot police detective alongside Jackson, and the two were an unstoppable team of absolute go-get-ems, that is, until some self-inflicted unfortunate circumstances befall them. Regardless of that, though, Johnson’s moments in this film are among not just the funniest in the film, itself, but also perhaps the funniest of his career.
If ever there was a quality reboot, this was absolutely it! The fact that Dwayne Johnson was brought in to replace David Hasselhoff was such a treat for movie goers. With the support of Zac Efron, Priyanka Chopra, Alexandra Daddario and amazing cameos from Pamela Anderson and the head honcho, himself, David Hasselhoff, this reboot really does show how hilarious Johnson can be.
While written as a comedy and maybe even a partial parody, this reboot of Baywatch really is an enjoyable film. It brings all the nostalgia from the original, including some of those original actors, and reinvents the series with a fresh life of new talents bringing our favorite characters to life once more.
NEXT: Every Single Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson Movie Ranked
Adam Lowe is a husband, father, and author living in Southern California. With a degree in writing and an advanced degree in leadership, he strives to bring his educational background into his passion of writing and making a difference in the world. More of his writing can be found at his personal website.
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