Dwayne Johnson had never sung onscreen before tackling Walt Disney’s South Pacific adventure Moana, with an original song specially written by — gulp — Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Miranda gave the man known universally as "The Rock" vital advice for performing You're Welcome, a song-demand for mortal thanks from Johnson's demigod Maui for legendary deeds.
“The key thing Lin told me beforehand, he said: ‘Own it. Own the the song, I wrote it for you. There’s no one else on this planet that can sing, ‘You’re Welcome’ with a smile and make people feel good,’ " Johnson recalled to USA TODAY.
It's true. No one else could sing this lyric: "I know it's a lot, the hair, the bod. When you're staring at a demigod" and bring laughs like Johnson can and did. The Rock owned You're Welcome and threw his outsized personality into the Maui voice role. He was the engine that propelled the animated Moana to box office smash success over the Thanksgiving holiday.
Johnson, 44, could make You're Welcome a personal theme song for his movie career, which is hitting unlikely legendary status. The former college football player turned pro wrestler turned one-man movie industry churned at full throttle in 2016, the year he was named People's Sexiest Man Alive.
There are the constant projects like Dec. 13's Rock the Troops on Spike TV to honor the military, and Johnson completed a second season of his HBO drama Ballers, playing a former ballplayer turned financial manager.
Onscreen, he teamed up with the other hardest-working man in show business, Kevin Hart, for the buddy-comedy hit Central Intelligence. The two are giving master classes on how to work it in Hollywood, grinding non-stop, reaching out on social media (The Rock speaks to 10.7 million Twitter followers and 72.5 million Instagram followers), trying not to take themselves too seriously and always giving superstar smiles.
Johnson has even set himself up for an even more demigod-like 2017 in film — adding his franchise Viagra to The Fate of the Furious (April 14), showing that bod and comedy chops in the R-rated Baywatch (May 26) and the year-ending release of the adventure Jumanji, just completed with Hart and Jack Black,
So, Rock, you're definitely due for this: Thank you.