No, it’s not a publicity stunt. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is actually considering running for President of the United States.
The multi-hyphenate superstar, who landed a star on the Walk of Fame this week and is gearing up for the release of his holiday blockbuster “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle,” has a jam-packed slate of projects lined up through the next presidential election. Yet Johnson says he would “100% consider” running for office.
“I couldn’t do both,” he admits when asked by Variety about his burgeoning career as a movie star, producer and the businessman behind his company, Seven Bucks Productions, which he co-owns with his longtime manager and ex-wife, Dany Garcia. “Realistically, as we go into 2018, when you look at my slate as we’re developing and shooting into 2019 and 2020, the slate goes deep into 2021, so it feels like the realistic consideration would be 2024.”
Though Johnson has political ambitions on his mind, he never set out to start a viral guessing game of whether or not he will run for president.
“It all started out of the blue,” Johnson says, bringing up a June 2016 column in the Washington Post, which point-blank stated, “He could actually win.”
“It was never something that I trumpeted and beat my chest and ever said publicly, ‘This is what I’m going to do,’ but as that story picked up, Americans picked it up and there was this sentiment of, ‘We’re not joking, and we would really love the idea if you would run,'” Johnson recalls.
“In that, I knew I had to listen to the people and really, really think about it,” he continues. “That’s where I’m at right now — I’m well aware politics is not the business I’m in, so the best thing I can do is continuing to listen and learn as much as I can. I’m continuing to watch our presidency and watch how every new development is handled. I continue to watch our leaders in government, and like all Americans, I continue to be hopeful that our leaders exhibit poise, perspective and the ability to bring our country together during these tough times — which I don’t feel our presidency is currently doing — so that’s where I’m at.”
Johnson – who has attended both Republican and Democratic conventions, but says he is currently a registered Independent – is toying with the idea purely because of his loyalty to the American people, which he has displayed through his genuine relationship to his 175 million followers across social media platforms.
“I care deeply about our country, and I care deeply about our people – especially now,” he says. “Decency matters and being a decent human being matters, and character matters, and leadership matters.”
The fan campaign for The Rock to run for president began before the 2016 race, but the current political climate and divisive nature of the country has further inspired Johnson to consider his potential political career.
“I think this is just a product of my DNA, in that when there’s an issue, that’s the time we have to come together, work hard to understand each other and ultimately get to a better place,” Johnson explains. “For example, when it’s a polarizing issue like our NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem, that’s not a time to be divisive and shut them out of the White House. It’s the time to actually open the doors and bring those players in so our President and staff can understand exactly what the needs are — face to face, so change and positive progress can happen — but that’s not happening right now.”
Should he run, Johnson hasn’t put thought yet into who he would select as his running mate. Though “SNL” chose Tom Hanks as The Rock’s VP, Johnson says he’s not sure if his veep would hail from Hollywood or D.C. or elsewhere.
“Two necessities off the top of my mind are that I’d want my VP to be a tremendous leader and a high-quality human being,” he says, “Whether that’s from Hollywood, Washington, the medical field, Wall Street or education.”
While Johnson didn’t discuss any policy with Variety, he did speak to one of the hot-button issues sweeping the country right now: sexual harassment in the workplace.
“I’ve shaken the hands of a few of these men, and I want to choke them out, but it’s important to stay poised right now and keep that in mind,” Johnson admits, referring to recently ousted Hollywood power players.
The father of two daughters with a third on the way, Johnson feels a tipping point for change and is optimistic that the future will bring a better environment for women.
“I’m hopeful that my daughters are learning great lessons from what’s happening right now. My 16-year-old daughter Simone has a great head on her shoulders and we’re extremely proud of her, and we will make sure that we raise our daughter Jasmine in the exact same fashion,” he says of his two-year-old. (Days after this interview was conducted, Johnson announced he and his partner Lauren Hashian are expecting their second child together, a baby girl.)
“I’m hopeful in the spirit of what we are witnessing and experiencing now – this watershed moment that is deeply impacting the business that I make my living in – but also the ripple effect and the spider web effect that is deeply impacting cultures of business around the world, even if they’re not making headlines right now,” he continues. “So I’m hopeful, but my hope follows the deep pain and empathy that I have for these very brave women that have come out already and continue to come out.”