KAHALA (HawaiiNewsNow) - He's known the world over as "The Rock", but Dwayne Johnson is really just a gentle giant.
The local boy was in Honolulu recently to promote his new movie, "Journey 2: The Mysterious Island". We chatted a bit about that, but we really "talked story" about his strong connection to Hawaii.
He may be an international superstar in the ring and on screen, but Johnson knows his roots. And when he returns to Hawaii, he enjoys his own unique trip down memory lane.
"I drive past all the places that I used to get in trouble - that I used to get arrested at – where I drove the HPD crazy every single weekend," explains Johnson. "Oh, there's the place I got arrested for fighting. There's the place I got arrested for check fraud. There's the place I got arrested for theft. There's the place I got arrested for curfew. There's the place I got arrested for driving down the wrong way without a license. I mean, the amount of stupidity that I demonstrated when I was a kid here, I like to drive by those areas."
Okay, he was no angel but life back then, for The Rock, was a hard place. The Washington Intermediate and McKinley high student remembers living with his parents in a tiny, studio apartment behind the Pagoda hotel.
"We came home one time, and there was an eviction notice on the door," says Johnson. "We couldn't get in. Where we gonna live? So, even though those were tough memories, it makes me into who I am today. So, I can drive around, and it makes me feel so grateful to be who I am today and be able to be here, the man I am today, from that punk kid, to this man. It's beautiful."
In fact, there were plenny kine "only in Hawaii" moments in our interview - chatting about how folks here hold a special place for homegrown stars, like the President or pop singer, Bruno Mars.
Johnson laughs and says, "Here's the funny thing, by the way. You take President Obama, Bruno Mars, and myself, and we all ... he looks like he could be my uncle, Obama. I look like I could be Bruno Mars' big brother. That's the way it is here in Hawaii!"
And I think I've figured out why the charismatic Johnson is so popular. Men think he's cool. Women think he's hot. Hey, even some men think he's hot.
He displays it in one of the scenes from his new movie. In it, his character, Hank, is explaining the facts of life to his stepson, Sean. "Getting the attention of a woman is one of the hardest things to do. So, you have got to do this". (Hank starts moving his pec muscles). Sean: "What is that?" Hank: "That's the 'pec pop of love". Now go on and throw a berry." (Sean throws a berry at his chest, and it ricochets off) "Boom!"
Johnson explains why he did the film. "All the variables made it very easy to say yes to this. And on top of all that, I look amazing in 3D." I tell him, "You do look amazing in 3D! I attest to that". Johnson laughingly says, "There are three of me coming out!"
"Journey 2: The Mysterious Island" comes out in theatres nationwide on February 10th, and in it, you may be surprised to hear him play the ukulele and sing - and he really does have a great voice - so much so that the audience in the theatre cheered at the end of the scene.
Johnson – whose father is black-Canadian and mother is Samoan - turns 40 this year. In 2004, a Samoan king gave him the title of "Seiuli"- or high chief - something he calls the biggest honor of his life.
"Whether you're Samoan, Fijian, Tahitian, Hawaiian, we're all very proud. We're a proud people, a proud culture. So for me to be able to utilize the platform that I have today and be able to carry - from my ancestors, my tattoos, my name, my high chief title - around the world is very, very special."