LOS ANGELES — Dwayne Johnson’s new NBC comedy “Young Rock” has him campaigning for president in 2032, but the actor and producer sidestepped the possibility of a real-life run someday.
A coming-of-age story inspired by the former pro wrestler's colorful but challenging childhood and youth, “Young Rock” is framed by the adult Johnson's reflections on his life as he stumps for office.
Is Johnson cleverly preparing America for his next act?
“I think the people will prepare me. I can say that,” he replied with a laugh.
Using the candidacy as a device to revisit his past was suggested by Nahnatchka Khan, executive producer of “Young Rock,” he told The Associated Press on Tuesday. Johnson also is an executive producer for the series, debuting Feb. 16, with his younger versions played by Adrian Groulx, Bradley Constant and Uli Latukefu.
“We were trying to figure out a creative way that I can be intertwined in every episode, to be part of it. This was (Khan’s) idea, and at first I was a little reticent about it because it’s political,” he said. “You just knew that by the time the show was coming out, politics was gong to take yet another hard turn and be so polarizing as it is.”
Khan’s persuasive argument: “She said something to the effect of, ‘Well, you always say you’re a man of the people, and I think we should give it a shot,’” Johnson recounted.
In a 2018 Vanity Fair interview, the film and TV star said he'd seriously considered a 2020 run for president but decided against it.
During a Q&A Tuesday with TV critics, Johnson was asked if he would invite U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren — a self-proclaimed fan of Johnson's 2015-19 “Ballers” sports comedy — to make a cameo appearance on “Young Rock.”
“If we're lucky enough to come back for a second round (of episodes), then maybe she will then," he said. And what about President Joe Biden as a guest?
“Well, I can see that happening,” he told The AP. “It all depends on how far we go with it (the series). But I am friends with Sen. Warren, President Biden as well, and Vice-President Kamala Harris, and so I wouldn't rule it out."
Johnson, a self-described independent, bestowed his first political endorsement on the Biden-Harris Democratic ticket last year. But he suggests a a bipartisan approach ahead for “Young Rock."
"I'm also friends with a lot of Republicans, so who knows what kind of melting-pot politics we'll have down the road, if by chance we're lucky to come back,” Johnson said.
Lynn Elber, The Associated Press