Robert De Niro Loves His Flip Phone and Doesn’t Care Who Knows

“Last week, Anne Hathaway outed Robert De Niro, Hollywood legend and her co-star in The Intern, as being a fan of The Bachelor,” writes Miller.

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 02: Robert De Niro attends the 2015 Gordon Parks Foundation Awards Dinner and Auction at Cipriani Wall Street on June 2, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)
(Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)

.”And now, here’s an equally endearing anecdote from the Oscar-winning actress about Martin Scorsese’s go-to gruff—specifically that he has not yet adapted to those fancy-schmancy smart devices you kids call phones.

“While discussing their generation gap with People, Hathaway, ever the diplomat, says that the only difference she noticed between herself and the 72-year-old actor was his wisdom: ‘I just always think, My gosh, how much more have you seen!’

“De Niro, however, does not hesitate to pipe in with one key deviation he noticed, in terms of technology and social networking. ‘I have a computer,’ the actor says, ‘but I don’t do Facebook, don’t do Twitter, don’t do . . . what’s the other one?’

“When Hathaway comes to the actor’s rescue—’Instagram’—she drops the endearing bombshell about his phone.

“’Bob, can I out you about something?’ she asks before proceeding. ‘He has a flip phone. We talked about it [on set] when he wasn’t around. We all thought it was cute.’

“(In De Niro’s defense, a 2015 study shows that a third of Americans are not smartphone owners.)

“De Niro, refusing to be smartphone shamed, offers this explanation: ‘They’re easy to use!’”

De Niro isn’t the only one who loves flip phones.

05-anna-wintour-flip-phone.w529.h352Last year Vogue editor Anna Wintour was photographed by NewYork magazine using her flip phone at the US Open.

Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 11.24.48 PMRihanna

Rihanna uses a flip phone, making it seem like the most fashionable accessory available.

warren buffettWarren Buffett, worth $67 billion, showed off his flip phone on CNN last year. “This is the one Alexander Graham Bell gave me,” he joked to Piers Morgan.

BsQuPKate Beckinsale goes old school with her flip phone. ..

Scarlett…and so does Scarlett Johannson.

Why are people returning to the old phones? Treehugger has some possible answers: ” The smaller, more pocket-friendly size, the battery that lasts one to two weeks, and, if you’re not picky, options that can still be bought for a small price.

“Also, remember how rugged those older phones were? How many times did you drop yours and have it survive with barely a scratch? Smartphones are notoriously fragileand many people are tired of worrying over cracked screens.

“But maybe most of all, people are switching as a direct response to the totally connected lives we now lead. If you already have a tablet or laptop or both, why have a smartphone too? A basic phone that lets you make calls and send texts may be preferable at that point.

“And just like people’s fondness for music on vinyl, an old cell phone has a vintage feel and people feel trendy and different from the masses by using one instead of a smartphone that looks everyone else’s smartphone.

“We have two types of profiles: the 25 to 35 year-olds attracted by the retro and offbeat side of a telephone that is a little different, and those who are nostalgic for the phone that they used when they were younger,” said Maxime Chanson, who founded Lekki, a cell phone reseller, in 2010.

“Some use it to complement their smartphone, but others are going for the vintage, tired of the technology race between the phone makers.”


Samuel L. Jackson, The Tarantino Roles

24-samuel-l-jackson-lede-mobile                                                   Samuel L. Jackson

TARANTINO’S LEADING MAN: Great profile of Samuel L. Jackson on New York magazine’s Vulture site today, concentrating on his history with director Quentin Tarantino. Six collaborations and a quarter century of working together have produced some memorable characters.

Before their first film PULP FICTION, Sam had auditioned for Quentin for RESERVOIR DOGS. Sam was a seasoned theater veteran at this point, and had just burst onto big screens in Spike Lee’s JUNGLE FEVER, for which Sam had just won the Best Supporting Actor award at Cannes.

“He’d shown up to casting for this unknown screenwriter’s first feature having memorized a scene he thought he’d be playing with Tim Roth and Harvey Keitel,” writes Jada Yuan..”Instead, he got stuck reading with two bozos he’d never seen before, who didn’t know their lines and couldn’t stop laughing. ‘I didn’t realize it was Quentin, the director-writer, and Lawrence Bender, the producer,’ says Jackson, ‘but I knew that the audition was not very good.’ He didn’t get the job.”

“It wasn’t until RESERVOIR DOGS’ notorious premiere at the Sundance Film Festival the following January that Jackson saw Tarantino again. Half the audience had fled amid all that gleeful gore; Jackson went up afterward to shake Tarantino’s hand. ‘He’s like, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, I remember you. How’d you like the guy who got your part?’ ’ says Jackson. ‘I was like, ‘Really? I think you would have had a better movie with me in it.’ '(Let it be known that Jackson’s well-honed Tarantino impression sounds like an unholy amalgam of Gollum, Joe Pesci in GoodFellas, and the Looney Tunes Road Runner.)”

This clip from INSIDE THE ACTOR’S STUDIO features Sam doing his impression of Quentin, whom he calls “Mr. Enthusiasm.”

Vulture continues the story: Two weeks after the RESERVOIR DOGS premiere, “a brown paper package arrived. The images of two gangsters were printed on the front, and a note inside read, ‘If you show this script to anyone, we’ll show up at your door next week and kill you.’ It was Pulp Fiction, whose Bible-quoting hit man ‘in a transitional period,’ Jules Winnfield, would make Jackson a household name at age 46. But only after someone in casting greeted Jackson as ‘Mr. Fishburne,’ and he got so pissed off he murdered his audition.” The rest is history. 20-samuel-l-jackson-john-travolta-pulp-fiction.nocrop.w529.h373.2x            John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson in PULP FICTION. pulp-fiction-pulp-fiction-13197588-1920-810                            As Jules Winnfield in PULP FICTION.

Jackson’s next Tarantino character was the arms dealer Ordell Robbie in JACKIE BROWN, which is Sam’s favorite role in the Tarantino-verse. “I think he would be a great guy to hang out with — as long as you didn’t cross him,” Jackson says20-samuel-l-jackson-jackie-brown.nocrop.w529.h373.2x                                                  In JACKIE BROWN.

004KBT_Samuel_L_Jackson_002                            As a piano player in KILL BILL: VOL. 2

samuel-l-jackson-django                                As Stephen in DJANGO UNCHAINED.

These roles are remarkable for their variety, and spring from a relationship between director and actor that transcends the normal definition of those roles. The two “are the cinematic equivalent of an old married couple,” writes Yuan. “‘Quentin and I have a kind of cinematic affinity,’ says Jackson. They discovered it on the set of Pulp Fiction when Jackson was doing his usual binge of Asian movies. ‘Quentin would walk by my trailer, and he would always hear the sounds of either kung-fu fighting or bullets going off, and he would look in the door and say, ‘What are you watching?’ ’ says Jackson. They also realized they’d both spent much of their comic-book-obsessed childhoods in Tennessee in the care of their grandparents, and to this day they do regular movie nights at Tarantino’s house, because, says Jackson, ‘he’s got a bigger theater.’ ”

The next movie from the pair is THE HATEFUL EIGHT. Jackson plays Major Marquis Warren, an ex-slave and veteran of  the Union Army. The film is both a shoot-’em-up and a whodunit. Tarantino and Jackson have taken to calling Marquis “Hercule Negro, like Hercule Poirot,” says Jackson, “because he is a bit of a detective.”the-hateful-eight-samuel-l-jackson-01-636-380              As Major Marquis Warren in THE HATEFUL EIGHT.

Tim Roth sums up the creative collaboration between Jackson and Tarantino: “It feels, to me, that Quentin’s leading man is Sam,” says Roth, an original Reservoir Dog and a member of the Hateful Eight. “And I think that’s an extraordinary circumstance, for a white man, however talented, to be able to write for a leading man, a black actor, and give him such a range of roles.”


What Does Bill Murray Smell Like? This Scratch-N-Sniff Will Let You Find Out

3049769-slide-s-1-a-scratch-n-sniff-guide-to-bill-murray                                         Life Aquatic by Sabrina Elliot


3049769-slide-s-3-a-scratch-n-sniff-guide-to-bill-murray                                   Lost in Translation by Henry Kaye

“Bill Murray is one of the most elusive and enigmatic actors in Hollywood, but what does he smell like? Cook Your Own Food is a new scratch and sniff tribute to the Ghostbusters and Scrooged actor that allows you to bask in Murray’s fragrant, ever-changing musk. It’s the literary equivalent of sticking your head under Murray’s armpit and inhaling deeply.”

3049769-slide-s-4-a-scratch-n-sniff-guide-to-bill-murray                                Moonrise Kingdom by Witzje Valkemar

“Published by the self-described “nomadic publisher” Sugoi Press, Cook Your Own Food – A Bill Murray Scratch And Sniff features 10 different pages drawn by 10 different artists featuring 10 different smells inspired by an assortment of Bill Murray films. It’s the next best thing to using a time machine to travel back to the set of his best movies and smell him for yourself.”

3049769-slide-s-2-a-scratch-n-sniff-guide-to-bill-murray                                      Lost in Translation by Grace Danico

“One page illustrated by Grace Danico featuring Bill Murray’s Suntory hawking character in Lost in Translation might smell like whiskey; another page, illustrating the scene from the same movie when Murray and Scarlett Johansson go out for dinner, would smell like sushi. Other pages feature smells from Moonrise Kingdom, Groundhog’s Day, The Life Aquatic, What About Bob? and more.”

3049769-slide-s-5-a-scratch-n-sniff-guide-to-bill-murray                                     What about Bob by Jon Boam

“But why Bill Murray, of all people? “Bill Murray really lends himself to re-interpretation,” says John Jarvis of Sugoi Press. “He has everything: the sadness, the hilarity, the weight. You just need to turn on your laptop and you’re bombarded with illustrations of him. We wanted to add a layer on top, bring people closer to him. So now you can eat sushi with him, chomp on apples with him, and eat a Baby Ruth with him.”

You can buy a copy of Cook Your Own Food – A Bill Murray Scratch And Sniff now from Sugoi Press for a little under $10 here.”

The Sugoi site  says “Feel closer to the greatest man alive! Delve into his scenes, drink with him, laugh with him and smell as he smells.We’ve brought together some amazing artists to re-interpret some classic Bill Murray films. Focusing on his culinary habits.Scratch the smelly pads at the top right and enter the world of Bill Murray.”


nwa-biopic-postersThe word is that STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON, F. Gary Gray’s telling of the early years of NWA, is great.

Reviews are good; Variety’s Scott Foundas says “Director F. Gary Gray turns the meteoric rise and fractious fall of rap supergroup N.W.A. into a sprawling, exhilarating Los Angeles hip-hop epic.”

Lizzie Plaugic writes in The Verge review: “The movie’s Compton backdrop gives it a heavy atmosphere, but one in which levity can still be found, and when its jokes land — which is often — relief rushes in with the laughter. The relatively unknown cast rises to the incredible challenge of portraying some of the most recognizable people in the music industry. As Eazy-E, Jason Mitchell is by turns thick-headed, cunning, kind, infuriating, and fragile. Corey Hawkins plays Dr. Dre with an easy intelligence that would’ve made him look like an undoubtable force even if we didn’t already know the man he would turn out to be (He cries twice during the movie; so did I). O’Shea Jackson Jr. (Ice Cube’s real life son, who looks almost exactly like his dad on screen) plays Cube with a humanity that makes him seem both familiar and untouchable.”

And the advance word of mouth coming out of the audience preview screenings is enthusiastic; check out these tweets:

n-STRAIGHT-OUTTA-COMPTON-large570Ice Cube, F. Gary Gray, Dr. Dre


Do Not Miss TOM CRUISE WEEK at Grantland

Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 11.28.26 PMGrantland is hosting TOM CRUISE week, and it’s a must see. The top of the page has this Top Gun/Risky Business mashup header, which features an animated Tom Cruise doing his iconic underwear dance.


bracketround1The most entertaining one is called WHICH TOM CRUISE IS THE BEST TOM CRUISE? Be sure to try your hand at the interactive bracket that allows you to vote for you own favorite Cruise. You vote in four different seeded divisions, in which you can struggle to choose between Joel Goodson and Maverick, to rank Ethan Hunt against Ron Kovic, and to pit Les Grossman vs. Jerry Maguire. Couch Jumper Cruise looks to be way out in front in the Real Cruise division.

Check it out at Grantland.



Fellini’s Restored AMARCORD Will Receive Tribute at Venice Film Fest

amarcord“Federico Fellini’s fourth film to win the foreign Oscar, 1973’s AMARCORD will receive a special tribute at the 2015 Venice Film Festival, which runs September 2-12,” writes Ryan Lattanzio in Indiewire.

“A new restoration from eminent preservation entity Cineteca di Bologna will world-premiere …at the festival,” he continues. The film “boasts a menagerie of eccentric, colorful characters…Nina Rota, of course, delivers yet another magical score.”

amarcord-075-1000085560Fellini on the set of AMARCORD.

In addition to winning the Oscar for Best Foreign Film, Fellini also received two additional Academy Award nominations for AMARCORD: Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay.

Vincent Canby, critic for the New York Times, loved the film when it opened, writing: “It’s an extravagantly funny, sometimes dreamlike evocation of a year in the life of a small Italian coastal town in the nineteen-thirties, not as it literally was, perhaps, but as it is recalled by a director with a superstar’s access to the resources of the Italian film industry and a piper’s command over our imaginations. When Mr. Fellini is working in peak condition, as he is in AMARCORD (the vernacular for ‘I remember’ in Romagna), he somehow brings out the best in us. We become more humane, less stuffy, more appreciative of the profound importance of attitudes that in other circumstances would seem merely eccentric if not lunatic…AMARCORD is as full of tales as Scheherazade, some romantic, some slapstick, some elegiacal, some bawdy, some as mysterious as the unexpected sight of a peacock flying through a light snowfall. It’s a film of exhilarating beauty.”

AMARCORD is nostalgia, a warm recreation of the world of Fellini’s childhood, but it is not merely memory, argues critic Sam Rohdie, it is a fantastical universe of its own. “It is an imaginary town with imaginary, projected characters who are fragments, magnifications, caricatures, and grotesques, as in a dream.” To watch the film is to share Fellini’s own flickering daydream, a mixture of recollection and fantasy.

EPSON scanner image

Fellini’s illustration for the character of Aurelio Biondi, the short fused working class father of the teen protagonist, Titta.

“There was his sketching and doodling, essentially a playing,”  Rohdie continues, “a search for the shape of the film in these images, a process of seeking out and discovery that carried over into the actual filming, where the film you see is the film being discovered in the process of filming, as if there were no ‘before’ to it, as if the film had been found. It is not a record, then, of something outside it but an expression of an inspiration chanced upon at the moment of filming.”

Felliini’s film technique underscores this sense of illusion by celebrating the artificiality of the effects. One night a majestic cruise ship passes close by the town, like a mystical apparition. The townspeople marvel as it steams by, lights aglow in the fog. Yet the ship was constructed of cardboard, the ocean was black plastic, it was all cinema magic. amarcord_boat1-11_jpg_627x325_crop_upscale_q85

Rohdie concludes: “”The essential subject of Fellini’s films, and particularly of the late ones, like AMARCORD is the cinema itself, another world: ephemeral, touching, ineffable, comic, and grand . . . like a pheasant in the snow.”tumblr_mcmf57FK3k1rc84x4o1_500

My favorite of Rohdie’s observations: “AMARCORD is like a circus, composed of numbers, perfectly linear and sequential but whose links are neither logical, dra­matic, nor narratively motivated. Each of the numbers in the film is a circus act, and the actors are the circus clowns.”

There is no higher praise, as far as I’m concerned. 15631973amarcordbelga19


New Bill Murray “ROCK THE KASBAH” Trailer and Poster—”Opportunity Rocks Where You Least Expect It”


“Opportunity Knocks Where You Least Expect It.” Great tagline on the awesome new poster for Bill Murray’s ROCK THE KASBAH.

Open Road Films has also released the trailer for director Barry Levinson’s road comedy.  Starring with Bill Murray are Kate Hudson, Zooey Deschanel, Danny McBride, Scott Caan, Bruce Willis and Leem Lubany.

Scripted by Mitch Glazer (who also wrote the Murray holiday classic SCROOGED) the film tells the story of Richie Lanz, a rock manager who takes his act on the road. “Bill Murray and Barry Levinson are the perfect team to capture the lunacy, heartbreak and hope of this story. I’m ecstatic,”  Glazer told Deadline when the film was announced. describes Richie as having “a golden ear and a taste for talent” but “has seen better times. When he takes his last remaining client (Zooey Deschanel) on a USO tour of Afghanistan, she gets cold feet and leaves him penniless and without his passport in Kabul.”

“I’m royally screwed!” complains Richie.

“Welcome to Afghanistan,” replies the hotel manager.

Richie considers this. “Nice to be here.” MurrayBarWhile trying to find his way home, Richie befriends a band of misfits and discovers a young girl with an extraordinary voice.

Against all odds, Richie will take his last shot at creating an unlikely superstar.

ROCK THE KASBAH hits the big screen October 23, 2015.

This image is not from the film, but it reminds us just how much Bill Murray enjoys music.


Mad Max: Fury Road Without Visual Effects is Still Freaking Awesome


Casey Chan writes in Sploid: “Most movies, especially big blockbuster action movies, look embarrassingly awkward when you strip away the CGI and special effects and expose it in real life. It’s because so much is fake these days! Not Mad Max: Fury Road though. That movie’s action sequences still look so bad ass in real life. Check it out.”

Chan continues: “The video above shows some of the action scenes as it appeared in the movie (after special effects were added) to footage of how it was filmed and man it’s not even that different! It’s less cinematic looking (obviously) but the action is just as bold and daring.

“The practical stunts are amazing. The explosions! The flying bodies! The soaring motorcycles! The jumping cars! You could watch the entire movie without the computer generated special effects and it’d still be the action movie of the year.”

New Mission Impossible Trailer Features Tom Cruise’s Latest Amazing Stunt—Hanging From A Plane

The new trailer for MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE — ROGUE NATION has been released by Paramount Pictures. A hallmark of the series is incredible action, and this installment promises plenty of thrills.

The recent release of MAD MAX: FURY ROAD trumpeted the use of practical stunts in that film. Visual effects were used to create environments and weather, but the stunts were real, for the most part. Director George Miller and his team received well deserved praise for this approach, especially in a cinematic universe filled with CG characters and action that defies the reality of physics.

No single action star has been more dedicated to keeping it real than Tom Cruise. He reportedly does almost all of his own stunt-work no matter how dangerous it may be. In ROGUE NATION the signature stunt is featured at the end of the trailer: Cruise hangs on the outside of an Airbus A400M military transport at 5,000 feet above the English countryside. Doubt it was done for real? Check out these pix of the stunt being performed:rV5FDfg3BqKlHxThat takes guts. Cruise has been doing this kind of thing for years now. Whatculture has a gallery of Cruise’s most insane stunts; here are the ones from the MI franchise,  with Whatculture’s descriptions excerpted below:


While Brian de Palma’s opening installment of the Mission: Impossible franchise isn’t as action packed as the other installments, this sequence is one of the most memorable across all four movies. The fish tank set-piece was reportedly Cruise’s idea, and the actor insisted on doing the stunt himself much to the dismay of the director.

Paramount Pictures

The explosion and subsequent jump through the window were shot on a soundstage at Paramount Studios, with Cruise neglecting to use a stunt double. No less than sixteen tons of water were used for the scene, and seeing the actor’s face as he escapes only enhances the power of the scene, especially when you consider the very obvious drowning hazards.


Looking for a suitable way to reintroduce the character of Ethan Hunt at the beginning of Mission: Impossible II, Tom Cruise somehow arrived at the conclusion that free climbing the sheer cliffs of Utah’s Dead Horse Point would do the job. Although stunt doubles were used for the more dangerous moments, the studio was still understandably skeptical of having their star dangle precariously on a cliff-face hundreds of feet above the ground.mission_impossible_ii

While Cruise was wearing a harness during filming (which was digitally removed in post-production), there was no safety net in case anything went wrong. John Woo was reportedly terrified about having the actor perform so much of the climbing himself, but Cruise insisted on doing as much as possible and even ended up injuring his shoulder in the process when jumping from one part of the cliff to another. The end result is a dizzying opening sequence that uses sweeping aerial shots and wide angles to let the audience know that Tom Cruise’s daredevil instincts remain intact.


We remember him leaping off the roof of a skyscraper, but the leap, while dangerous, was made on a soundstage from a rooftop set piece. Perhaps more audacious was his slide underneath a fuel tanker truck; Cruise lay down in the middle of the road, only to have the huge vehicle jackknife directly over him. mi3First-time feature director J.J. Abrams has noted that he saw his career flash in front of his eyes as the truck came ever-closer to the A-list star. The end result is truly a remarkable stunt. Only a matter of inches separate Cruise from the underside of the tanker as it passes over him, and having the camera up close and personal only increases the tension of the scene.


One of the greatest action set-pieces in recent memory, Brad Bird’s Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol sees Tom Cruise scaling the outside of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building at a vertigo-inducing 2,722 feet. Of course, the actor decided to perform the entire sequence himself without the use of a stunt double, adding further realism to an already nail-biting scene. Ghost-ProtocolAlthough securely attached to the building with a safety harness, Cruise admits that he failed to anticipate the crosswinds that come with being up so high, which caused him to slam into the side of the building on numerous occasions. However, the combination of the actor’s dedication and some stunning camerawork create a sequence that is nothing short of awe-inspiring, with Cruise’s sprint down the outside of the building a particular highlight.

detail.0b970f20Genevieve Koski, writing in The Dissolve, says this about the stunt: “Cruise and director Brad Bird’s audacity comes through in the final product, and the sequence is rightfully brought up in discussions of the all-time greatest on-screen stunts. Here’s a good barometer for how impressive a practical stunt/effect is: Does it look just as awesome outside of the movie itself? To wit: The behind-the-scenes video of Cruise filming the sequence … is almost as intense as the final product.

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE—ROGUE NATION opens July 31. In addition to Cruise, Simon Pegg, Ving Rhames and Jeremy Renner return to the series; new cast members include Rebecca Ferguson, Alec Baldwin, Sean Harris, Simon McBurney, and Zhang Jingchu. Christopher McQuarrie directs and Robert Elswit is the cinematographer.  mission_impossible_A64F875DED234C2FA196DA05EB2B6613

How Dwayne Johnson Became The People’s Movie Star

AP734826878939This is a big week for Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. SAN ANDREAS,  a disaster blockbuster in which he stars, arrives in theaters on Friday. BALLERS — an HBO series in which Johnson serves as both executive producer and star — premieres in June. Warner Brothers recently announced plans to develop a superhero film of SHAZAM, and Johnson revealed that he will play the nemesis Black Adam in the big screen adaptation of the DC comic book.

With all this activity, perhaps it is to be expected that Dwayne Johnson is everywhere in the media right now. Yet his omnipresence is more than the product of a busy publicity schedule. His public persona rises above any individual project, subsuming each role into the greater narrative, the one in which Dwayne Johnson conquers the world.

Scott Meslow examines the phenomenon in under the headline “How Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson Became the People’s Movie Star.” Meslow writes: “Johnson’s filmography is unusually eclectic, pivoting sharply from one movie to the next: big action movies to wacky comedies, weird indie movies to fun little cameos, often playing himself. The only unifying trait is that every role seems to have been carefully chosen to show off another aspect of his talent.”

Indeed, his career choices have been made carefully. Each new role is selected to enhance his brand. He is methodically creating a profile with broad appeal. His film debut role —  a significant cameo as The Scorpion King in THE MUMMY RETURNS —led to the starring role in the spinoff feature that followed, THE SCORPION KING. The picture made money and pointed to a future as an action star. Buddy films like THE RUNDOWN and WALKING TALL allowed Johnson to develop his screen presence while playing off of energetic co-stars.

Johnson then set about expanding his horizons. Jen Yamato, writing in The Daily Beast, charts the next phase of his career: “He took chances and diversified with a surprising comedic turn as a gay bodyguard/aspiring actor in BE COOL, a cameo in RENO 911! THE MOVIE, and a major role in Richard Kelly’s ambitious sci-fi satire SOUTHLAND TALES.”

detail.673ee91aDaniel Roberts, writing in Fortune, says, “You could argue that Johnson fully emerged as an actor with BE COOL in 2005, in which he played a gay bodyguard with an Afro. It was the first time he acted opposite A-list stars (Uma Thurman and John Travolta) and, more significantly, it helped establish that his groove was in action comedy.”

To establish himself in this new genre, Johnson moved into family films. Yamato continues: “The Most Electrifying Man In Sports Entertainment became The Most Electrifying Man In All of Entertainment by shrewdly trading in his crowd-pleasing brand of brow-raising brio for a relatable strain of All-American humility.

“That transformation started as The Rock went Disney as a footballer with a daughter he never knew he had in THE GAME PLAN, his first family flick and his last credited picture as ‘The Rock.’ The movie made $147 million worldwide, making it the most successful Johnson-fronted film to not feature violent action at the time.

“Then came GET SMART, RACE TO WITCH MOUNTAIN, and TOOTH FAIRY with a dose of friendly neighborhood brawn for the whole family. A scene-stealing blip of an appearance in 2010’s THE OTHER GUYS was a stroke of perfect casting: Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Samuel L. Jackson as the NYPD’s hotshot star cops.” In 2012 his JOURNEY 2: THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND drove to a $335 million gross.

Having introduced himself to the family market, his next move was back to action films. His career was turbo-charged when he joined the FAST AND FURIOUS franchise in FAST FIVE. The picture helped boost his action cred, but Johnson was also widely credited with rejuvenating the Furious series.  The nickname ‘Franchise Viagra’ stuck, and he repeated the magic in G.I.JOE: RETALIATION the next year. After two more FURIOUS films, Dwayne Johnson finds himself standing on the entertainment mountaintop.

Smart career choices and the blessing of the box office gods don’t fully explain his success, however. Clearly he began with an extraordinary charm and charisma, qualities that audiences embraced from the beginning. Roberts tells us the story: “Johnson went from being so poor as a kid that he and his mother were evicted from their home, to Division I college football, to World Wrestling Entertainment, to Hollywood, to being the highest-grossing actor of 2013. How he did it is a case study in determination…

“The only child of a Canadian father and a Samoan mother, Johnson grew up like an Army brat, living everywhere from California to New Zealand to Texas, because his father, Rocky Johnson, was a professional wrestler and traveled the circuit. At age 15, Dwayne and his mother were living in a small studio in Honolulu when they came home to an eviction notice and a lock on the door. Their rent, at $180 a week, was too much for his mother, who cleaned hotel rooms. ‘It broke my heart,’ he says. The pair had no choice but to move to Nashville, where his dad was wrestling at the time. ‘I remember saying to myself, ‘I will do anything and everything I possibly can to make sure we never get evicted again.’ But what does that mean—what does it mean to be successful? Well, the successful men I admired all built their bodies.'”

Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 2.40.40 PMJohnson played football in college, hoping for a pro career. He joined “the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League. That didn’t work out either; he was cut after two months. Broke, jobless, and embarrassed, he flew from Canada to Miami and called his father to drive from Tampa to get him. On the ride home, he emptied his pockets and found just seven dollars (hence his company’s name: 7 Bucks Productions).

“Johnson had never planned on going into the family business, and his father initially forbade it. But once he moved back in with his parents, and after weeks of depression, it seemed the obvious move. Rocky told Dwayne he had nothing to offer the sport; Dwayne, hurt, felt differently. ‘Looking back,’ he says, ‘I understand that he was thinking, ‘Man, I wrestled for 40 years, and this is what I have to show for it: a tiny apartment in Tampa. I don’t want this for you.’”

“It turned out that Johnson had a lot to offer the sport. He began wrestling in small-time matches as Flex Kavana, made it to the WWE in 1996 and took the name Rocky Maivia, and went on, as The Rock, to become the biggest superstar televised wrestling has ever seen. Fans of the ‘sport’—which is part verbal performance, part dance, and all theater—loved his charisma and family backstory.”

It took effort to convert the charm into stardom. One thing observers agree on is “how hard Johnson works.”

He takes each role seriously.  Speaking to about the upcoming role in SHAZAM, he says “It’s a mythology that I love. It’s been with me for almost 10 years now. What made me choose Black Adam  was, I just felt like Black Adam was inherently more interesting to me, because I felt like there were more layers to Black Adam, starting out as a slave, then ultimately becoming the anti-hero that we know today. But I’ve always said that’s got to be earned.”

He means earn the respect of the audience. Johnson tells Fortune: “From wrestling in flea markets (making $40 bucks a match) to used car dealerships to barns, to breaking attendance records in every major dome in the U.S., I learned that the most important relationship I will EVER have in business is the relationship I have with my audience. Pay attention to who you do your business for.” He earns his fans’ respect twice: in the performance of the role and in the marketing of the film.

Roberts explains: “Hollywood teems with hardworking actors, of course, but Johnson  goes further than most. He’s not done when the cameras stop rolling. He takes each movie’s promotion into his own hands, pushing it to his 56 million fans across social media, a platform that film insiders say is more valuable to a Dwayne Johnson flick than any ad campaign.”

Meslow concurs: ” the range of talents Johnson has displayed on the big-screen is just one half of the cocktail that has elevated him to superstardom. It’s the inherent likability Johnson shows off-screen — which he cannily harnesses on Twitter (8.7 million followers), Instagram (14.8 million followers), and Facebook (49 million likes) — that has earned him such an unusually loyal fandom.”

8fdb2cb7b90a58a3361cdded32d5e5efcc34e008His creative use of social media elevates his media reach. Last week, for example, he set a new Guinness World record for the Most Selfies Taken in Three Minutes. “The Furious 7 star broke the record at the UK premiere of his upcoming disaster flick San Andreas, snapping selfie after selfie with fans and revelers on the red carpet outside of London’s Odeon Leicester Square,” gushes US magazine. Traditional media outlets drool over this kind of publicity efficiency.

Johnson manages to be sincere in the process. Meslow says: “Following Johnson on social media feels like an actual window into his day-to-day life: unusually chatty, heavy on pictures, and full of upbeat affirmations about the best ways to live a happy life. … Johnson spends a lot of his social media platform promoting his various film and television projects — but first and foremost, he’s always promoting Dwayne Johnson.

Last week, Johnson scored a huge viral hit by serving as the officiant at a surprise wedding for Nick Mundy — a writer and fan who just happens to have 33,000-plus Twitter followers.” wlrockhandprints1And he turned the Chinese Theater hands-in-cement ceremony into an opportunity to thank Steven Spielberg, telling Reuters: “This man who has inspired me over the years, inspired movie-making and created characters that I loved…this man told me: ‘you’re going for it, and just keep going for it.”

The other piece of advice he treasures came from director Phil Joanou: Protect the thing that allows you to do what you do. Johnson rephrases it: “Around every corner always protect the engine that powers you.” (Fortune.)

Mostly, Dwayne is having fun, and it’s rubbing off on everyone. John Patterson sums it up in his SAN ANDREAS review in The Guardian: “As he has refined his brand, Johnson has stepped out. His recurrent appearances on SNL, playing Hulk-like, shape-shifting Potus “The Rock” Obama, have been ridiculously endearing (especially whenever he flings Ted Cruz out of a window), and you haven’t lived until you’ve seen him lip-sync Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off with Jimmy Fallon (“Oh Jimmy, your ass is gettin’ ready to know Tay-Tay!”). There is an unadulterated joy to be derived from watching a performer make all the right movies, one after another. Vive Le Rock! ” roc17_3