On the new NBC sitcom Young Rock, we fast forward to 2032, where mega-superstar Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is on the campaign trail. Wanting to have people get to know him more, he sits down for a one-on-one interview with Randall Park (WandaVision) about his life. Through certain lessons he’s learned during his life, we get to see these stories come to life with The Rock at three different ages: 10, 15, and somewhere between 18 and 20 years of age.
Bradley Constant, the 22-year-old actor portraying The Rock at 15-years-old, may be the best fit for The Rock at that age. See, Dwayne Johnson at 15, with a whole mustache and suave attitude, was already a meme, with people marveling at how grown he was compared to how normal humans looked at 15. Slap a mustache on the Alabama-born actor and you’ve basically got a Young Rock. In a recent conversation with Constant, who a year prior was working at a grocery store, says that he and The Rock do have similarities.
“At that age,” Constant explains, “[we] both share that excitement of being a 15-year-old, wanting to impress,” something which Constant does in what we’ve seen from Young Rock, nailing the bold swagger of a 15-year-old Rock trying to balance school life with the reality of home. Complex got a chance to speak to Constant about his journey from a Disney Channel-loving kid in Alabama to seeing his face on billboards on Sunset Strip.
How did you first get into acting?
When I was 12 years old, I used to watch Disney Channel and I really, really, really wanted to be on Disney Channel. I was mostly a sports kid growing up, but I had surgery on my shoulder at one point and I tried out for the baseball team, like, three times in a row and it didn’t work out, and I was just trying to figure out what to do next. I looked up acting classes, like, “Hey, mom. Let me try these out.” Started doing that, my first class I fell in love with it even more, and it’s been a journey.
I grew up in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. That’s where I started taking the classes, and then I eventually moved to New York City. I begged my mom to move me there and she did, that was awesome. I was 15 years old at that time. In New York, I was just trying to figure it out. I started doing online school. New York is a different beast from Alabama. I grew a lot in New York. I’ll always credit New York to a place that; it made me tough and made me who I am in a lot of ways, a lot of good ways. I took lots of classes there, did some student films at NYU. Eventually, my manager there suggested I come out to Los Angeles. And again, I asked my mom, “Hey, can we move to the other side of the country?” We [moved] with just our backpacks on a plane. Came out here—it was 2017—and I just kept auditioning. I did some cool commercials. It’s been really just baby steps. It’s been a long journey. It’s been almost a decade since I was in Alabama and I decided I wanted to do this. Sure enough, I got this role at the beginning of last year.
Is it one of those things where you resemble a young Dwayne Johnson at 15 years old and that’s why you went out for the role?
I didn’t seek it out. I have a rep that sent it to me. I was just chilling, playing Xbox and she sends me this gif of The Rock waving his hand forward saying, “Bring it on,” and I was like, “What is this?” She said, “It’s a TV show about the story of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s life!” I’m like, “Oh, this is dope.” I read the description and it really just kind of lined right up [with] who I was. I read the script at the audition and it really rolled off my tongue like it was natural, which doesn’t happen too often with auditions.
So I went in, this was January of last year, I went in for that first pre-read, the casting director was awesome, he gave some notes back and forth. Walked out, and immediately I turned to my mom, I was like, “I swear I need another shot.” I was like, “Please, I hope I get another audition. If I can come back and do this again, I will kill it.” I was super hungry. I came back for the next one, I think I did good, or at least I thought I did okay. Usually at these auditions, you just kind of want to forget about it. Your brain is just cycling through.
We were going on vacation immediately after that audition, and on the way to Arizona where we were going to stay, I got a call. They wanted us to record me doing a monologue or an audition or something. I was like, “Oh, okay.” I didn’t have any monologues on the spot, so my mom and I just wrote up a scene together on the spot, recorded it in the bedroom. I taped up the phone to a lamp. We sent that in, and then a couple of weeks later, they’re like, “Hey, come in for a screen test.” I had never made it this far on an audition process before. We walk onto the Universal lot, I’m tripping out. I’m like, “Look at these studios,” and taking pictures like a tourist. I walk in there and they had to glue a mustache onto me because obviously, he has that infamous mustache at 15 years old. I didn’t have one at the time, so they had to glue it onto my lips. [The mustache] started flapping off mid-performance, and then they start laughing. I don’t break, I just keep going for it. The mustache is just hanging off my lip like crazy. But you know what? I think that kind of broke my nerves a lot, that just kind of made it fun. When something like that happens, you’re like, “Oh, whatever.” You’re just doing it.
A couple of weeks later, I booked it. My mom started screaming and I can’t hear anything my manager’s saying past the point of, “You booked it.” Then coronavirus came and everything shut down and we didn’t know what was going to happen or when it was going to shoot and all that. And then they hit us up like, “Hey, down to shoot this in Australia?” And I said, “Heck yeah. Of course, I’ll film it in Australia.” There was all this build-up, me knowing I was going to go film this awesome thing in Australia, but I was still working at the grocery store down the street. During the pandemic. It was so crazy, life’s events happening between the time [I booked] it to when I went to shoot it.
Are there a lot of similarities between you at 15 and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson at 15?
Definitely, 100 percet. One thing that isn’t similar is that I wasn’t as bold as he was. I was kind of quiet at the first part of being 15, but that was when I moved to New York City. I moved to New York City and was like, “Oh wow, this is a new place.” I had new friends all of a sudden and I was coming out of my shell. All of a sudden, the person I was when I was home with my mom was starting to change. She’s like, “You’re starting to be a little different. You got a girlfriend, you’re in New York City and all that.” The same thing really happens with Dwayne, because he’s at this school and he’s like, “All right, look. I’m going to impress this girl. She’s the prettiest girl in school and I want to impress all the other kids and I want to be the coolest kid.” So he steals clothes, he’s got to find a way to get a car. The car ain’t really that nice, but hey, it’s cheap. It gets you from point A to point B.
At that age, [we] both share that excitement of being a 15-year-old, wanting to impress. I wanted to impress the girlfriend I had at the time. I wanted to constantly have fun, but I always had my mom around to remind me what my priorities are, to keep me focused. Like, “Why are we here? What are we doing? We’ve got bills to pay. This is important. You can’t be doing stuff. You’re not going to get in trouble.” That’s a huge thing for Dwayne at that age, that stealing clothes ain’t right, you can’t do that. And especially, this is a time when his family was struggling financially and they had been through a lot. He may be going to school putting on a front and having fun, but when he comes home, his mom puts him in check, like, “This is reality. We’re struggling to pay rent this month.”
It was really fun to play that because I got to show kind of the stress and the confusion of being 15 and dealing with the at-home pressure of family struggles being so visible to him. It wasn’t hidden from him. He knew that times were tough. But not wanting to be seen riding the bus to school, that’s embarrassing. I think that’s the most fun part about this show; it’s so relatable. A lot of people can relate to struggling, and I’m sure maybe even when you were in high school, people didn’t really know what you were doing at home or what life was like for you. I know it was like that for me. I was in school, nobody knew the struggles that I dealt with. When I was able to talk to Dwayne, we both related to that. We [both] didn’t have all the money that some kids at school had. At home, I was really stressing, but at school, I wanted to have fun. I didn’t want to talk to people about that. For me, it was more important to wear cool clothes on the first day of school.
I read that The Rock gave you a lot of credit during the TCAs, primarily for what 15-year-old Rock has to deal with. For you, someone whose been working towards this moment right now, how are you feeling about getting the accolades from The Rock?
You know what? I think I’d have a different answer if this was before I had met him. Him being a star, that’s awesome. When I hear him say things like that, the most important thing to me was that I was respectful of his life. These are real moments. I really wanted to honor the story that he’s trying to tell and who he was as a teenager. So to hear him to give that kind of compliment, that’s awesome, man. I’m glad that I’m doing it right.
Were you a fan of his growing up?
When I was little, I watched a lot of wrestling with my dad, so I have really fond memories of seeing him on the TV when I was little. And after that, I mean, the first movie I saw him in was Walking Tall. Loved that movie. And from there, I’ve followed everything he’s done and obviously been a huge fan, but I had no idea that it would be a person I would be playing as a teenager one day. It’s full-circle and pretty cool.
What’s the hardest part about playing The Rock?
I don’t think there’s really a hard part about it. I mean, it’s tough. It’s not easy. It’s all challenging, but I think for me, I’m always open to the challenge. It’s not about me. My goal is just to play it right. There’s such a huge support team around me. When we were shooting, there’s Nahnatchka Khan, there’s Jeff Chiang, all the producers around us, all the rest of the cast, everybody was there to support each other, and I never once felt extra pressure. Dwayne was always reasserting that, “We got this and we’re doing it right.” He gave me a good compliment the other day; of course, that makes you feel good about it. I definitely think you’ve got to put in the work, but nothing specifically I’d say was hard.
I saw on Instagram that you’ve been able to see your face on billboards. I know that’s got to be just amazing to see. With the little that you’re out in the world, has anybody recognized you out in public?
No. I don’t really go out and do too much, especially now that all this is happening. When I was in Australia, surprisingly, a few people recognized me, which is pretty fun. To be able to shoot this show during a pandemic, in a place like Australia, was a blessing, man. Especially because I worked at the grocery store the whole year leading up to September when we went out there to shoot it. Then when I got out there, it was like being in a fantasy land. There were pretty much zero cases in all of Queensland where we shot it, so I could go out to the mall, there were music performances and everything with no mask.
You felt safe. It was awesome, man. It was incredible time, really lucky and blessed I’ve been able to do something like that last year. Coming back to this, got here this year and now these billboards are coming out. That kind of freaked me out when I first saw it. I went with my mom, of course, and shared the experience with her and we got a pretty cool shot with it in the background.
It was funny, a couple days ago I was on a run after a workout and I passed by one of the big posters on Sunset Strip, it was huge on the side of a building. I was like, “Oh my God!” I’m freaking out. I’m sweating and huffing and puffing, but I’m taking tons of pictures of it to send to my mom. This girl walks up, she’s like, “Is that you?” I’m like, “Yeah, that’s me.” She’s like, “Let me take a picture for you.” It’s like, “No, it’s okay.” She’s like, “No! Let me take a picture.” So I let her take the picture and that was a really cool moment to look back at that picture. I’ll definitely remember that. Somewhere I run and have driven past all these years.
Speaking of a workout, The Rock’s workouts are the things of legend these days. Are you doing The Rock workout to become the young Rock?
No (laughs). You know what? It’s all about, and I’m sure he’ll say the same thing to anybody else, it’s not about doing The Rock’s workout, it’s doing your own personal best. It’s pushing yourself harder than you did yesterday. My goal when I work out is always just to push myself harder than I did the last time. I guess we’ll consider that a Rock workout.
Spoken like a true young Rock himself. What are some of your aspirations outside of this series? What are some of your goals as an actor?
I think one of my top bucket list actor goals is to be in a Star Wars TV show or film. I mean, I have to. I can die in the first five minutes, make me a Storm Trooper or something, but please, I’ve got to be in Star Wars. Outside of that, honestly man, nothing tomorrow is guaranteed. I’m just enjoying all this and I’m going to keep working hard, man. I just am open for whatever the next opportunity is.
Young Rock premieres on Tuesday, February 16, at 8/7c on NBC.