Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s latest can’t-miss project, “Young Rock,” premieres Tuesday. The sitcom focusing on the wrestler-turned-movie-star’s formative years and promises some unforgettable moments and characters from the larger-than-life upbringing that
influenced the creation of the ‘Most Electrifying Man in Sports Entertainment.’
To portray The Rock at different points of his youth, three actors (Bradley Constant, Uli Latukefu, and Adrian Grouix) were drafted in to play the man himself. Undoubtedly, given the brawn required to play wrestling’s most celebrated icons, like Andre The Giant and the
Iron Sheik, casting agents were tasked with some pretty big shoes, or in this case boots, to fill. Muscle & Fitness takes a look at this beefy lineup ahead of NBC’s premiere of “Young Rock.”
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Joseph Lee Anderson plays Rocky Johnson
Anderson is perhaps best known for appearances on in the 2019 film Harriet and the CBS actions series S.WA.T. and at 6’2’’, this actor, writer, and director bears an uncanny on-screen resemblance to the father of “The Great One.” After seeing an image of Anderson portraying his father, the “Soul Man” in the ring, The Rock took to Instagram and shared that the likeness had “really sat me down.”
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Bret Azar plays the Iron Sheik
The fearsome Iron Sheik coached Team USA in the 1972 Munich Olympic Games and was, as The Rock puts it, “one of THE legit baddest SOB’s walking the planet.” In order to replicate Sheik’s solid frame, Azar was cast to play the wrestling villain who made a name for himself in professional wrestling by taking the world title from Bob Backlund, via his signature “Camel Clutch” in 1983.
At over 6-feet tall and with a background in bodybuilding, Azar has the chops when it comes to playing iconic roles. The 34-year-old was famously called upon as a double for Arnold Schwarzenegger in “Terminator Genisys.”
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Nate Jackson plays Junkyard Dog
The late Sylvester Ritter, better known to wrestling fans as the Junkyard Dog, stood 6’ 3’’ and weighed in at 280 pounds. JYD is perhaps most famous for having one of the hardest heads in the game, knocking out opponents with his solid cranium. The grappling legend will be played by comedian, writer, and actor, Nate Jackson. In preparation for the role, Jackson has transformed his physique, losing more than 26 pounds through a regimen of hiking, boxing and diet.
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Matthew Willig plays Andre The Giant
At 6’8’’ and having playing in the NFL at a listed 316 pounds, Matthew Willig bears more than a passing resemblance to one of pro wrestling’s most enduring icons.
Now an up-and-coming actor, the former offensive tackle was part of the Super Bowl XXXIV winning St. Louis Rams team before retiring in 2005 after 14 seasons.
There is some discussion around the true height of the legend that is Andre The Giant. Officially, the Frenchman was billed as 7ft 4in tall, but after having back surgery in later life, the “8th Wonder of the World” was measured at just under seven feet. Known for being an introvert around strangers, the late Andre was very close with the Johnson family, and was simply “Uncle Andre” to young Rock.
The wrestlers of the ‘70s and ‘80s were so popular, they even had their own Saturday morning cartoon show. (Who remembers Rock ’n’ Wrestling!?). To decide for yourself how accurate these portrayals of wrestling’s great’s stack-up, catch the “Young Rock” premiere Tuesday on NBC.