How Dwayne Johnson's Viral Fanny Pack Photo Inspired His Young Rock Sitcom

The action star's unique wrestling-centric childhood was perfect subject matter for a comedy series. Plus, Kenan Thompson on balancing SNL with sitcom Kenan, and more from NBC's winter 2021 press day.

by | January 27, 2021 | Comments


(Photo by Mark Taylor/NBC)

Four different Rocks discussed the new NBC sitcom Young Rock, inspired by the life of wrestler-turned-national treasure movie star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in a virtual press conference on Tuesday. The panel for the series was a part of the Television Critics Association winter press tour, the semi-annual event where TV networks present their upcoming series to reporters.

Read on for more about Young Rock, plus details on the two other series NBC introduced on Tuesday, Kenan Thompson sitcom Kenan, and the sci-fi drama Debris.


Young Rock Will Feature Plenty of ’80s Wrestling Stars

Young Rock started with a fanny pack. You know the photo — the one of a young, smirking, turtleneck-clad Dwayne Johnson leaning against a wall with his thumb curled under a stylish fanny pack.

“That was the entire pitch,” the actor joked when asked about his inspiration for the series. In reality, though, the show is about his very unique upbringing — and it’s not something he entered into lightly. When he first sat down with executive producers Nahnatchka Khan and Jeff Chiang to discuss the show, it was to ask, “What’s the real reason of why we’re going to do this? How can we create something for audiences that will hopefully entertain them, but also allow them … a bit of takeaway afterwards?”

It was only after they came up with a clear point of view that the show became a reality, Johnson explained.

“We use these terms ‘wild’ and ‘crazy’ — those are great sizzle words we use as we promote this thing. But it was incredibly complicated and incredibly tough growing up, specifically with these timelines in my life of 10 years old, 15, and 18. Universe willing, if we’re lucking enough to come back for another round of this thing, there’s a lot of other things that took place in between,” he said.

View this post on Instagram


A post shared by therock (@therock)

Johnson is both executive producer and star of the series, appearing as a future version of himself (a 2032 presidential candidate). The show takes place during four different time periods, with Adrian Groulx starring as 10-year-old Dwayne Johnson, Bradley Constant as a 15-year-old version, and Uli Latukefu as the 18-year-old Rock. Young Rock also portrays of famous early wrestlers, including Andre the Giant, Randy Savage, Iron Sheik, and Junkyard Dog, which is not unexpected, since Johnson grew up wrestling royalty as the son of WWE champ Rocky Johnson, who is played by Joseph Lee Anderson in the series.

“It was truly a love letter to professional wrestling, which is a business that I grew up in and a business that I’ve loved all my life and learned some of my most valuable, while very unorthodox, lessons,” Johnson said. It was a pleasure “to be able to highlight and showcase these men who were, in essence, my superheroes — they didn’t wear capes when I was a little boy.”

SNL Star Kenan Thompson Is Multitasking With Sitcom Kenan

Kenan, the new sitcom starring longest-tenured Saturday Night Live cast member Kenan Thompson, underwent two full creative overhauls before its current iteration.

But when it premieres on February 16 on NBC, the show will follow a widowed actor–turned–morning show host as he raises his two daughters with the help of his father-in-law (played by Don Johnson) and brother (SNL castmate Chris Redd). The lengthy development of the series, Thompson said, allowed the team time to figure out “how to put a new twist on the ‘uplifting father figure’ kind of show.”

Thompson and Redd are filming the sitcom concurrently with SNL. While cast members previously would have to leave the late-night comedy sketch series or film in the summertime if they wanted to pursue other creative pursuits, the TV world (and specifically the SNL universe) is a little more flexible than it used to be, they said.

“I think we’re living in a different time,” Thompson said. “There was a time when people would leave the show to go into their career. But I’m of a different kind of thinking. I think you can do both as long as you can, then if the departure comes in a natural way then so be it.”

Redd also said he wasn’t thinking of the show as some kind of SNL “exit strategy.” Said the actor, “I just see it as an opportunity to create.”

Hunting for Extraterrestrial Debris Gives Upcoming Sci-fi Drama a New Case Each Week

The title of NBC’s new sci-fi drama Debris, premiering March 1, is literal — each week, two intelligence agents hunt extremely powerful shards of an alien spaceship that bestow fantastical powers on their possessors, from walking through walls to manipulating the weather.

The weekly component will be complemented by a larger mystery — sound familiar? The series comes from former Fringe showrunner and Almost Human creator J.H. Wyman.

“You can have a case of the week, but you can also have meaningful character development and the mythological rollout over the course of at least this first season,” Wyman told reporters in the show’s virtual session.

A CIA agent played by Jonathan Tucker and an MI-6 agent played by Riann Steele are the investigators at the center of the series. The duo work together as a part of the U.S.-U.K. collaborative agency Orbital to recover as many pieces as possible before others can use them for nefarious purposes. And while each new UFO scrap they discover will provide a weekly through-line for the series, it’ll also show the unique capabilities of the alien matter and how it affects the world, Tucker said.

On an Apple device? Follow Rotten Tomatoes on Apple News.

Tag Cloud

Walt Disney Pictures Lucasfilm The Purge Drama San Diego Comic-Con best superhero Freeform HBO Go Chernobyl gangster 2015 Action Fantasy composers space Biopics period drama Warner Bros. Year in Review thriller E! Lifetime Christmas movies Image Comics USA Network crossover Schedule worst zombie indiana jones nature sitcom spinoff A24 Film Festival finale Masterpiece game of thrones what to watch BET Awards scene in color TCA dark zero dark thirty singing competition TCA Awards FX on Hulu zombies Quiz PBS Tomatazos rt labs canceled screenings boxing BET mockumentary Box Office dogs archives TCA 2017 TNT Western adaptation Musical Hulu book adaptation Amazon Prime Sundance Set visit monster movies slasher posters Paramount Network foreign comiccon Valentine's Day toy story Rocky Turner Tokyo Olympics doctor who 2021 nbcuniversal black Hallmark adventure olympics DC Universe hollywood quibi witnail TV Amazon Prime Video teaser GoT Certified Fresh dreamworks werewolf Comics on TV BBC One Prime Video series Food Network Super Bowl franchise AMC Brie Larson mission: impossible Cosplay Baby Yoda Mary Poppins Returns Starz football VOD TV movies binge young adult Disney streaming service National Geographic Heroines Pacific Islander cars italian twilight casting razzies Watching Series Election APB VH1 TCA Winter 2020 japanese Women's History Month ESPN rt archives BBC 93rd Oscars toronto scary unscripted remakes Stephen King Song of Ice and Fire TIFF vampires stand-up comedy NBC blockbuster Alien Television Academy batman know your critic Disney+ Disney Plus FX cults prank versus Black History Month sequel AMC Plus Spring TV superman Writers Guild of America VICE MCU natural history japan 2017 science fiction YouTube Musicals genre Film scary movies die hard Marathons political drama blockbusters Rom-Com X-Men king kong Horror green book CNN comic book movies mob IMDb TV news streaming Pirates miniseries Neflix cartoon heist movie films Binge Guide vs. harry potter hist OneApp discovery Vudu WGN TV One The Witch Spike DC streaming service YouTube Premium medical drama Lifetime Spectrum Originals Polls and Games A&E canceled TV shows stoner cancelled Apple TV Plus Mindy Kaling SXSW TBS Ovation USA Photos Britbox award winner facebook strong female leads cats Red Carpet television Fox News directors Marvel Studios debate cancelled TV series Acorn TV 4/20 YA RT History Oscars sag awards Toys Cannes festivals worst movies new york saw CMT Travel Channel BBC America joker fresh WarnerMedia streaming movies 24 frames Adult Swim dragons The CW live event Shondaland American Society of Cinematographers golden globe awards PaleyFest james bond documentaries Epix jamie lee curtis comics rotten movies we love Netflix Mary Tyler Moore parents feel good reboot Teen Broadway CW Seed independent ID Instagram Live justice league technology disaster Pixar Reality Competition romance politics anthology Classic Film social media basketball Winners video on demand GLAAD rotten TLC adenture NYCC Universal Marvel comic books Crackle fast and furious screen actors guild docudrama tv talk Endgame transformers ratings 2016 HBO Max BAFTA halloween Nominations E3 Awards Tour CBS Columbia Pictures Comic-Con@Home 2021 Creative Arts Emmys hispanic El Rey Nickelodeon breaking bad MTV Elton John Arrowverse Ghostbusters pirates of the caribbean royal family DC Comics Trailer Rocketman ABC Family children's TV australia Bravo comic book movie movie Trivia ABC sopranos psycho LGBTQ name the review Fox Searchlight dramedy Sony Pictures 20th Century Fox Video Games indie Emmy Nominations Pet Sematary Cartoon Network 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards jurassic park critics target cinemax Emmys Star Trek Marvel Television Reality docuseries Amazon Country anime LGBT Apple TV+ high school Lionsgate supernatural aliens Martial Arts Sci-Fi trophy king arthur boxoffice action-comedy animated Anna Paquin Sundance TV Grammys ABC Signature aapi slashers History Mary poppins Amazon Studios HBO venice popular critic resources Interview latino true crime Hallmark Christmas movies Nat Geo Netflix Christmas movies suspense The Arrangement Calendar 1990s marvel comics Superheroe TCM Mudbound Tubi Comic Book psychological thriller Paramount spanish richard e. Grant dexter travel south america christmas movies Captain marvel robots spider-man biopic 45 universal monsters 71st Emmy Awards Opinion mcc Hollywood Foreign Press Association hispanic heritage month New York Comic Con obituary TV Land documentary crime drama Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Dark Horse Comics Showtime Holidays biography Holiday concert kaiju spy thriller Rock Exclusive Video Mystery sports 2018 cancelled TV shows crime thriller classics Turner Classic Movies kong Tumblr live action cooking Pop Infographic french Fall TV Chilling Adventures of Sabrina elevated horror trailers Christmas dceu Comedy comic blaxploitation romantic comedy 73rd Emmy Awards reviews Academy Awards halloween tv Disney Channel Thanksgiving theme song The Academy IFC Films spider-verse Comedy Central Winter TV kids Music book Superheroes asian-american Shudder emmy awards The Walking Dead Kids & Family Family Hear Us Out 21st Century Fox ITV cancelled television Premiere Dates Funimation TV renewals chucky GIFs historical drama PlayStation FOX 90s Universal Pictures international laika Countdown RT21 2019 godzilla Podcast scorecard all-time stop motion criterion HFPA Avengers First Look rt labs critics edition NBA Television Critics Association wonder woman ghosts satire Awards ViacomCBS SDCC movies SundanceTV golden globes crime Crunchyroll 79th Golden Globes Awards FXX 2020 revenge MSNBC Discovery Channel women legend game show deadpool TruTV police drama a nightmare on elm street art house DirecTV See It Skip It Trophy Talk war festival free movies Fargo comedies Sneak Peek The Walt Disney Company Star Wars Disney Plus spanish language Disney Wes Anderson Animation Character Guide Sundance Now Pop TV Extras child's play nfl based on movie Black Mirror Tarantino YouTube Red serial killer Apple 007 Logo President hidden camera IFC Esquire Legendary diversity Paramount Plus cops new star wars movies dc Peacock talk show video Pride Month Syfy marvel cinematic universe telelvision Summer black comedy mutant 99% 72 Emmy Awards sequels Tags: Comedy new zealand rom-coms First Reviews lord of the rings Best and Worst Ellie Kemper DGA spain leaderboard renewed TV shows OWN CBS All Access