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Young Rock exclusive interview: Bradley Constant on Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s toughest years as a teen

Bradley Constant as a 15-year-old Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. Pic credit: NBC

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s incredible early life is portrayed in upcoming NBC show Young Rock.

Co-created by Nahnatchka Khan and Johnson, the comedy series based on the wrestler-actor’s colorful life premieres on February 16, and will star three young actors playing Dwayne Johnson at age 10, 15 and 22 years old.

In the trailer, below, we see that Johnson sets up the scenes from his past via an interview heralding his run for a future presidency.

“To understand me,” Johnson tells the interviewer, “you gotta understand where I came from.” Actor Randall Park, who portrays himself as a journalist in 2032, is covering Johnson’s campaign journey in the series.

Playing The Rock at the turbulent age of 15 was a dream realized for Alabama-born actor, Bradley Constant.

Constant began acting at age 12 and he convinced his mother to move him to New York City where he would study and begin to gain experience in the industry. The fast-paced world lead him to Los Angeles, where he is now based.

Before Young Rock, Constant was cast in the 2018 film Following Phil and had roles in several short films.

Young Rock will focus on flashback sequences that dramatize Johnson’s formative years, highlighting him growing up in a wrestling family while living in Hawaii at age 10 (played by Adrian Groulx), to his tough mid-teen years (portrayed by Constant) on through football-playing college years (portrayed by Uli Latukefu).

This true story spotlights Johnson’s fortunate connections to some of the biggest names in all of wrestling — Andre the Giant, The Iron Sheik, The Wild Samoans and more.

Not to mention that it lovingly illuminates the career of his own father, the famous wrestler Rocky Johnson.

From his earliest days learning about life with his big buddy, Andre the Giant, to playing football at University of Miami, then becoming a superstar pro wrestler, Johnson also serves as the narrator in this hilarious and often times emotionally moving biographical series.

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His larger-than-life family fueled all the outrageous and true stories of his youth. This coming-of-age journey highlights the profound moments and incredible relationships that took Dwayne from average kid to extraordinary superstar.

Co-created by Nahnatchka Khan and Dwayne Johnson, the series will be executive produced by Khan, Johnson, Jeff Chiang, Dany Garcia, Hiram Garcia, Brian Gewirtz and Jennifer Carreras.

Monsters & Critics spoke to Bradley Constant about his role as Dwayne Johnson at age 15 in Young Rock.

Monsters & Critics: When you were alerted to this incredible casting opportunity, how did all that go down?

Bradley Constant: Well it was just a regular day here in LA. I was playing Xbox, and my manager sent me an email and the first thing I saw was a huge GIF of The Rock saying, ‘Bring it on.’

I was like, what is this? And she says, this is the most perfect audition I will ever send you.

I read the breakdown. I was like, ‘Oh, this is incredible.’ At the time the character’s name was JT, but it was Young Rock, so we already pretty much knew it was for Dwayne Johnson and the character description, it just kind of rang bells for both of us and I slipped right into it.

M&C: How soon was it before you actually got to meet The Rock?

Bradley Constant: It was actually July and that was through Zoom. I booked Young Rock in March of 2020. And then of course COVID happened, the lockdowns and everything, the week after I booked it and we were going to shoot in LA and everything had to change.

Then things got going and I got to meet with him over Zoom and we chatted for a bit and talked about the role and all that.

M&C: What was your reaction to meeting him and how quickly did you feel like just at ease and comfortable with it?

Bradley Constant: Oh, immediately. Of course, I’ve known of him my whole life. When I was younger, I watched him and wrestling with my dad and I saw all his movies and everything.

I was excited and when he came on, I was a little nervous, but after about maybe two seconds, I immediately started feeling comfortable because his persona is so genuine, just like a normal person.

He chats with you like any other guy, he’s the real deal. What you see is what you get. And I love that.

M&C: Did you guys all film in Australia?

Bradley Constant: Yes, we filmed in Australia, but Dwayne filmed his 2032 election part in Atlanta.

M&C: Was that the first time you had been out of the country?

Bradley Constant: Yes, I’d never left the country before, so that was the first for me.

M&C: I bet you can’t wait to have that passport stamped some more.

Bradley Constant: Yes. I’ve had my taste now, now I’m ready to go everywhere.

M&C: I am struck by how much the cast resembles the people that they’re playing. I mean, everyone is a dead ringer…

Bradley Constant: Yeah, Joseph [Lee Anderson] looks like Rocky [Johnson] and everyone is cast perfectly. And all of our wrestlers. Yeah. All the way all across the board. Everyone does!

M&C: You were cast for the 15-year-old Dwayne. He said during the NBC TCA panel that his toughest years were those years, what insight did he give you to that troubled slice of his life at the age you’re playing?

Bradley Constant: Well, the really interesting part about trying to figure out what the character was, because we don’t really have any information on what he was like as a teenager… he [The Rock] really went in depth.

This was in that first call that I talked with him. At that time he had a completely different lifestyle when he was a kid. If you say, when Adrian is portraying him as a 10-year-old, his dad [Rocky Johnson] is making all kinds of money.

He’s doing the wrestling and all that. And they’re big shots. Then, he had to leave Hawaii and his dad all of a sudden isn’t making the money that they were before.

So, that was a huge adjustment for any teenager to go from living comfortably to struggling. And then moving so much, he never really found a place where he was super comfortable.

When you come from being up higher and you come down lower, you feel like you want to present yourself a certain way. You don’t want to be looked at like you are poor. And that’s a huge part of him in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania as a teenager, because he really is putting on a front most of the time.

It’s not just to look cool. It’s just because he’s trying to fit in. He wants the cool clothes. He wants all of this so he can get the girl and be a fixture within the school.

As a teenager, he thinks that’s more important to him at the time. I think he really elaborated to me on the importance of family. And you’ll see in the show, like it always comes back around as he learns the lessons, the tough lessons, that his mom also reminds him that family is more important.

M&C: How many episodes do we get to see you in for this first season?

Bradley Constant: You’ll see me in five.

M&C: You, Adrian and Uli — the three of you all played the same character at different ages. Talk about what those production days were like.

Bradley Constant: It was interesting because we all got there at the same time and we shot the pilot and we met each other. Which was funny because we had to do the two-week quarantine when we first got there.

We did all of our table reads through Zoom and hadn’t performed in person with each other. But it’s funny that you said we all look like our characters because I feel like we all fit into it already. Our chemistry was already there.

And once we got out of quarantine, our chemistry just sprang, and getting to know each other was easy, it was simple. We hung out. Like I said, during the [TCA] panel, that Adrian and I played lots of Xbox together. We’d go out. We rode bikes and things like that. Uli was along.

It really didn’t take much. We all got along so easily. We had different schedules. We had split blocks.

So I was never on set at the same time that Adrian was, and I had a few weeks off and I actually spent a lot of that time going to set just to watch everybody before. So that’s cool. It’s fun to cheer them on from the outside.

M&C: You had a great wardrobe. It’s fun to revisit fashion, and talk about that mustache of yours…

Bradley Constant: [Laughs] The mustache was a thing. It’s super funny though. When I auditioned for this, I didn’t have the ‘stache yet. I told them, ‘I can grow it. I can grow it, I promise!’

And we got to the screen test for the show and I still didn’t have it fully grown out yet.

They had to glue on a fake ‘stache. It was really funny. The glue started to wear off mid-performance. It’s literally flapping halfway off of my lip.

And I go through with the whole performance and there were plenty of laughs and I’m sure it was over the ‘stache flapping.

So many of my coworkers were just demanding that I shave it. I worked at a grocery store [in LA] from the time I booked it until we traveled out to Australia. That was most of the year until September.

And my grandma was just pained to look at it. Of course I loved it because I felt like I was in character. I loved it. I already felt like 15-year-old Dwayne. And then it was a thing on set. It was beautiful.

Of course, I had to shave it as soon as I got back home. My grandma would not let me back in the house.

M&C: How many people in your family are in Los Angeles with you now?

Bradley Constant: It’s just my mom out here with me.

M&C: And everyone’s back in Alabama?

Bradley Constant: Actually two of my two older brothers, one of them is in Nashville, Tennessee, and the other is in New York City.

M&C: Andre the Giant. There was a documentary about him on HBO. He was such a fascinating character. Off all the great wrestlers that Dwayne brings into the story, who are you the biggest fan of?

Bradley Constant: Oh, I would say Andre. My mom grew up during this Princess Bride era. So growing up, she put me on the movie and all of that. I think I never realized how special of a relationship Dwayne actually had with Andre.

And you’ll see in the show these wrestlers were a constant part of his life, um, throughout his, you know, being a kid growing on until now, even.

There’s really special moments where Andre teaches lessons to Dwayne when he’s younger and that carries on to him … when I’m 15 … you’ll see things that are said to Dwayne at age 10, but it comes back up to me at age 15.

M&C: This series is going to be a huge. Hold on to your hat, as they say. What’s on the horizon for you?

Bradley Constant: I’m just taking things slow. I just want to enjoy all of this. This is my first show. This is just incredible experience.

And, even outside of that, just people that are all a part of it are so incredible. This cast feels like family, the creators, Nahnatchka Khan, Jeff Chiang, all the producers. I mean, it’s so much bigger than just how big the show is.

I just feel so lucky to be a part of an awesome group of people. I’m just enjoying every little bit of it, celebrating them… every time I see a poster I text it to the group of all the cast and everybody, we’re just so excited. I’m just focused on right now and enjoying all of this.

Young Rock premieres Tuesday, February 16, at 8/7c on NBC.

April Neale
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