Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson isn’t exactly weak, fainthearted, or indecisive. In fact, as described by Stephen Galloway in The Hollywood Reporter, he’s “a 6-foot-5, 252-pound mountain of muscle, his arms hardened and honed, his chest as big as a bull’s.” He has quietly-well, not too quietly-come to dominate the box office with crowd-pleasing action spectaculars. And, like a lot of people, he has struggled with depression. Unlike some icons of masculinity, he is willing to talk about it.
We hear over and over that young people, particularly young men, lack viable role models who are open about mental illness and the need to get help. In this interview Johnson doesn’t give specifics about how he recovered from episodes of depression, but his honesty is encouraging. “I didn’t know what it was,” he says of his first depression at age 18 following an injury that sidelined his football career. “I didn’t know why I didn’t want to do anything. I had never experienced anything like that.”
Johnson places a high value on self-confidence, mastery, achievement. He describes the moment, as a child of struggling parents with a tough upbringing, when he decided to take control of his future. “What can I control with these two hands?” he asks himself. “The only thing I could do was train and build my body.”
But despite his strength of purpose and success in overcoming challenges, he admits to being laid low by depression, and to depending on friends and family to get through it. And that’s where his ambition and his honesty come together to make something special. He represents two kinds of strength-the strength to strive for outsized goals, and the strength to realize when you can’t go it alone.