VAN NUYS, California — Recently, on the set of his in-the-works inspirational drama "Gridiron Gang," the Rock mock-interviewed his teenage co-stars, asking them what their favorite film of his was.
"The Pacifier," one of them joked, giving the cast and crew a good-natured chuckle at the expense of those who confuse the star with similarly coiffure-challenged action hero Vin Diesel.
As the Rock later revealed, however, his young friend was closer to the mark than he realized. "There's a movie I'm really, really excited about right now ... called 'Daddy's Girl,' " the man sometimes known as Dwayne Johnson said. "It's going to be a movie with Disney; it's got a lot of heart, a lot of everything in it, which I'm really excited about. It's moving, it's inspirational ... and it's with the producers [Mark] Ciardi and [Gordon] Gray, who produced 'Miracle' and 'The Rookie.' "
"Girl," which is currently searching for a director, would cast the "Doom" actor as a star quarterback and lifelong ladies' man whose self-centered lifestyle is thrown into disarray as a young girl crashes the never-ending party carrying a birth certificate bearing his name.
"All of a sudden," he continued, "there's a knock on my door, and there's somebody at my door whom I have to take care of for the rest of my life. And that somebody happens to be a little 5-year-old girl. It's all about how I deal with that. The script came in, they did a great job of writing it, and I couldn't ask for better producers. ... They know how to inspire people and move people."
It's a career move that makes sense for Johnson, as he continues to push the boundaries of roles Hollywood will designate for a burly former athlete. After a half-dozen action films, a handful of dramas ("Gridiron" and the upcoming "Southland Tales"), and even a recent turn as a homosexual ("Be Cool"), he believes that the time has now come to embrace his inner child.
"If all goes well, we'll start that in the first quarter of next year, possibly the second," he said. "It all depends on my shooting schedule."
Currently, the film is without any co-stars to surround the former Miami Hurricanes defensive lineman and pro wrestler.
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