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Young Rock's Bradley Constant And Adrian Groulx On Working With Dwayne Johnson - Exclusive Interview

While watching Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson act on the small screen may be the initial draw for viewers of "Young Rock," the show is a bona fide hit because of the humor and heartfelt storylines that are loosely based on Johnson's real life. At its core is an ensemble cast that brings Johnson's family to life — including Joseph Lee Anderson as his wrestling-legend father, Rocky Johnson — and sees three different actors playing The Rock at various stages of his life.

Set in the foreseeable future, when Johnson has decided to run for president, "Young Rock" — which returns to NBC tonight for its 3rd season — follows the multi-hyphenate former professional wrestler as he tries to convince America to vote for him by telling his backstory to actor-turned-journalist Randall Park, who plays himself. Via a series of flashbacks, we learn about The Rock's upbringing and early career, with elementary school-age "Dewey" played by Adrian Groulx, teenage Dwayne portrayed by Bradley Constant, and young adult Dwayne tackled by Uli Latukefu.

During an exclusive interview with Looper, Constant and Groulx revealed what it's like stepping into Johnson's shoes and working with the A-list superstar.

Portraying The Rock is 'surreal'

The big question here is, what's it like playing Dwayne Johnson? It seems like a huge task, but you guys are killing it.

Bradley Constant: It's exciting; it's surreal. I do forget a lot of times [that I'm playing him] because it becomes normal. But my mom lives in LA, and she just sent me a picture of a billboard for this season, and it's me, Adrian, and Uli's faces right next to Dwayne. And I'm like, "Oh, yeah, that's a real thing." I forgot. It's exciting.

Adrian Groulx: It's fun; it's surreal; it's everything Bradley said. But I feel like there's never really any pressure when we go into work, from the crew, the cast, and Dwayne himself. We'll have our big, long days where we have these two-page lines, but [we're] always having fun. A lot of people on the show live here in America, so you get to be closer to home. We can have family visit. We're not [filming] mid-COVID anymore, so bringing family makes shooting the show a lot easier, too.

Were you starstruck when you first met Dwayne? Can you tell me what that experience was like?

Groulx: Absolutely. He's such a big guy, and I wasn't expecting to meet him that day. Bradley and my mom knew — they set it up. I'm here, clueless, and we walk onto the set, and I saw the back of his head, and jokingly in my brain, it was like, "Oh my gosh, Dwayne," because he's the one clean, bald-headed person there. But then I was like, "That could just be someone else," but we walked through, and I was starstruck, as you said. Joseph helped me. Joseph was pushing me to go and talk to him, and he was really nice and genuine to talk to. He made it so easy.

The real Dwayne Johnson is 'very supportive' on set

Bradley, what was your first experience like with Dwayne?

Constant: I went and watched him on set. When I first got there, Randall Park was there, and they were filming together. I'm like, "I can't believe I'm watching these people film." I got to learn so much. Then, in between takes, I get distracted, I'm looking at my phone, and Dwayne pops his head through the doorway and smiles. I lose my mind; I literally drop my phone when he comes in. I went up to him, and I had planned to shake his hand and do the whole thing, but I gave him a big old hug.

I think I hugged him 12 times, over and over again. He was probably like, "Kid, get off me," but I was excited. It was such a build-up because we'd met each other over Zoom and had some texts here and there, but meeting in person was really special. He took the time, the same way he did with Adrian, and complimented me for my role on the show, saying, "You're doing a good job." That means the most because I have always wanted to make sure that I do right by him and his family. We all feel that way because it's real life; it's not just some show. It was very special.

How hands-on has the real Dwayne been in helping you strike the right tone as teenage Dwayne? And what's your favorite part of getting into character?

Constant: He has been appropriately hands-off. Very supportive. He told me to go have fun and [that I was] going to do great. We have such a great team [of] writers. It's always a funny, easy script, and I know my castmates so well now, Stacey and Joseph and everyone. It's very organic and natural. It's easy.

Favorite part of getting into character? Probably growing this mustache, because I usually have it shaved. At first, I hated it because it was like, "I look crazy with this thing on." But now it's like, when I grow this mustache out and I have this chain on, I'm Dwayne.

Constant and Groulx are given 'a lot of creative freedom'

Adrian, what's the most fun part about playing Dewey?

Groulx: The same as what Bradley said. We see a lot of short shorts, like '80s shorts, on Seasons 1 and 2. This season, we see a little bit more of that, but it's probably the costumes. I love Dwayne's outfits from the '80s. Going on set, it's crazy how they build this whole set where it's not just one thing. 

My favorite part of being Dewey [is] being as funny as Dewey, because it's a role that's a real person, but at the same time, you can improvise. I know that's more specifically for me and Bradley, because Uli's part is the most ... "stressful" is not the right word, but that's what I'm going to go with, because we see him in the ring and becoming The Rock. I feel like it's a lot more [stressful] for him because that's who we know. For me and Bradley, we can do our own thing for the role.

Constant: Yeah, Adrian and I have a lot of creative freedom, in a way, because there's not a whole lot of already set-in-stone history of Dwayne that everybody is aware of already, as a teenager and younger.

Catch the Season 3 premiere of "Young Rock" tonight, November 4, at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT on NBC. Episodes are then available for streaming the next day on Peacock.

This interview has been edited for clarity.