Dwayne Johnson Rejected a Career-Saving Role in $5.2B Franchise

Dwayne Johnson Rejected a Career-Saving Role in $5.2B Franchise
Image credit: Warner Bros., Universal Pictures

It could have been so different for the former WWE champion.


  • Dwayne Johnson was offered the lead role in Transformers: Age of Extinction before Mark Wahlberg.
  • He turned down the role to play Hercules in the 2014 movie.
  • Does he regret the decision?

Dwayne Johnson has now been in movies for more than 20 years – significantly longer than he spent in the WWE. After making his debut as the Scorpion King in the 2001 movie The Mummy Returns, he's gone on to appear in the Fast and Furious franchise as Luke Hobbs among other notable roles.

It hasn't all been pretty

In recent years, his performances and some of the movies he's appeared in have come in for criticism from critics and fans alike. In particular, Black Adam was slated by the critics and has a Rotten Tomatoes score of just 38%.

Generally speaking, the Fast and Furious movies he was in were well received. Likewise, he was in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle and The Next Level. Despite a reasonably successful career in Hollywood, though, he must still look back at his decision to turn down the lead role in Transformers: Age of Extinction.

From Cade Yeager to Hercules

As revealed by the man himself back in 2013, DJ was offered the role of Cade Yeager before Mark Wahlberg.

'Michael Bay offered me Transformers, but I was unavailable due to Hercules. Then Wahlberg was offered the role.' He tweeted during a #RockTalk Q&A.

Dwayne Johnson Rejected a Career-Saving Role in $5.2B Franchise - image 1

Hercules was released to mixed reviews in 2014 with many commentators seeing it as an average film that brought in more than expected at the box office due to Dwayne Johnson's loyal fanbase. While it can't be described as a flop, it scored 58% on Rotten Tomatoes and pails into insignificance when compared with Age of Extinction which grossed over $1 billion.

Transformers is now a $5.2 billion franchise

Had DJ opted to play Cade Yeager, his career – and that of Mark Wahlberg – may have looked very different. Many of the roles he has had since 2014 may never have been offered to him. Not because he would have been considered a worse actor, but because he may have appeared to be in a different league.

And although he's amassed a personal fortune of $800 million, that figure could have been even higher. Ultimately, it's not about the wealth. If Rock never does another day's work in his life, he'll get by.

But accepting the role in Transformers may well have elevated his status as an actor beyond what it currently is. Instead, he chose to stick with Hercules which, while admirable, looks like a decision that potentially held him back from a career-defining role.

Dwayne Johnson Rejected a Career-Saving Role in $5.2B Franchise - image 2

Crumbling Fast

DJ did make an appearance in the recent Fast X movie. But the will he-won't he saga was quite drawn out and did nothing for his reputation. After initially saying he was done with the franchise, there was speculation that Johnson would be in the 10th instalment.

In the end, an uncredited cameo felt like a weak compromise that offered nothing to the movie and, arguably, left the actor looking a bit foolish. Of course, as the proponent of the famous Rock Bottom, not many people are going to want to say that to his face.

The Rock's personality and charisma were evident from the moment he entered the WWE. It became apparent pretty quickly that there was a career outside of the ring if he wanted it. That same magnetism has stuck with him throughout his second career.

Regardless of how any of his films have performed, when he's interviewed or appears in public for any other reason, he radiates positive energy. And he always comes across as likeable.

It's probably an overstatement to say his career is crumbling. He'll get more movie roles, draw more viewers in and make more money. But you can't help but think that decision from 2013 will always haunt him slightly.

Source: Celebrity Net Worth.