By Robin Shear
CORAL GABLES, Fla. (May 21, 2015) – The earth stood still in Hollywood on Tuesday, May 19, as the star of the forthcoming earthquake-themed blockbuster San Andreas planted his powerful hands and feet in wet cement in front of the TCL Chinese Theatre.
Following in the foot and handprints of such legends as Marilyn Monroe and Robert DeNiro, UM alumnus Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, B.G.S. ’95, stepped into Hollywood history, immortalizing his size 14 shoes and former pro wrestler mitts ten days before the scheduled premiere of his new action movie, which opens May 29.
Surrounded by family and fans, Johnson, who has a string of winning films and TV appearances to his credit, underlined his personalized slab with the word “Blessed!” And right now he seems particularly so, heading into a summer that includes San Andreas, about a rescue helicopter pilot on a mission to save his estranged daughter in the wake of a massive earthquake in California, and Ballers, the new HBO series filmed partly on UM’s Coral Gables campus that’s set to debut June 21.
Introducing Johnson at Tuesday’s event, San Andreas director Brad Peyton said, “He’s humble, he’s gracious, he’s kind, he’s attentive.”
Thanking his family, team, and multitude of fans, Johnson recounted how seeing movie hero Indiana Jones at age 8 inspired him.
“I knew I wanted to be that guy who was charming with the ladies, cool. The tough guy—but doing it with a smile,” he said.
The future champion of Hurricanes football and World Wrestling Entertainment made his own whip out of a stick and string and then got his first pair of boxing gloves to start building himself physically—“anything I could do to change my life with my hands,” he explained.
Fast forward a few decades, and Steven Spielberg, the director of the movie that spawned Johnson’s childhood hero, sent him a letter “out of the blue” that read, “You’re going for it. You keep going for it,” recalled Johnson before taking the cement plunge.
“I’m so proud of this moment. I’m so grateful. Not only does it symbolize hard work. It symbolizes the people I have around me supporting me in my hard work,” Johnson said, singling out his family, his team, and his fans, whom he called part of his “extended family.”
Johnson shares the iconic distinction with another UM alumnus and big-screen hero, Sylvester Stallone, B.F.A. ’98, who on June 29, 1983, became the 148th person to be honored by the theater.
This June 5, Stallone will be on hand during the University of Miami Alumni Association’s own blockbuster weekend in Los Angeles, California. The Rocky and Rambo star will be recognized for his outstanding career achievements with the Edward T. Foote II Alumnus of Distinction Award during the first-ever Regional Alumni Awards Ceremony.
The evening before, on June 4, the School of Communication and UM Alumni Association will join forces at the Directors Guild of America to present the 2015 ’Canes Film Showcase, featuring top student films from the Motion Pictures Program and a pantheon of judges from the industry, many of whom are alumni. The evening’s emcee will be Jason Kennedy, B.S.C. ’04, co-host of E! News.