Here’s an unsolicited piece of advice: If you’re trying to maximize your face time with a celebrity, arrange for the interview to occur in a confined space, preferably one that is moving and which his or her publicist cannot access. Mission accomplished this morning, as the MTV News gang somehow convinced Dwayne Johnson to fit his ginormous frame into a New York City taxi for 20-plus minutes!
The setting for the interview wasn’t completely out of left field, by the way. Johnson plays a cab driver in his new flick, “Race to Witch Mountain.”
Johnson was a great sport for our admittedly contrived adventure through the rainy streets of New York. He talked about everything from his experience hosting “SNL” last weekend (and his star turn as “The Rock” Obama) to his upcoming flicks, including “Johnny Quest.” And I learned that artist formerly known as the Rock can be as formidable in verbal combat as in physical. Sure, I walked into something when I asked him if my nebbishy self could cut it as an action star. But when I said I’d settle for a role as his wisecracking sidekick, did he have to suggest that my name be Shampoo in the film? I honestly still don’t what that means, but it feels like an insult.
Still, anything that comes out of the mouth of Johnson, even a sharp barb, doesn’t sound too caustic. Trust me. There’s a reason certain men and women are anointed movie stars. And as clichéd as it sounds, Johnson has that X factor. Call it charisma or likability or charm. If any man can repeatedly cut me down to size and keep me laughing about it, then doggone it, he’s going to make it. And by that criteria, this guy’s going to make being called Dwayne cool before all is said and done.