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Young Rock's Joseph Lee Anderson, Stacey Leilua, And Ana Tuisila On Playing Dwayne Johnson's Family - Exclusive Interview

"Young Rock" has been described by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as a love letter to his family. It revolves around his wrestling-legend father, Rocky Johnson (Joseph Lee Anderson); his down-to-earth mother, Ata Johnson (Stacey Leilua); and his business-savvy grandmother, Lia Maivia (Ana Tuisila).

Set in a not-so-distant future in which Johnson has decided to run for president, "Young Rock" follows the former professional wrestler as he tries to convince America to vote for him by telling his backstory via a series of flashbacks, featuring three different actors playing The Rock at various stages of his life. There's young "Dewey" and teenage Dwayne maneuvering through his youth in the 1980s, and there's a young adult version of The Rock as he takes on college and the beginning of his wrestling career in the 1990s.

Despite the series starring one of the most famous faces in Hollywood, at the core of "Young Rock" is family, humor, and heartfelt storylines that have made The Rock the man he is today.

During an exclusive interview with Looper, Joseph Lee Anderson, Stacey Leilua, and Ana Tuisila opened up about what it takes to make "Young Rock" feel so real.

Anderson uses Johnson's real-life workouts to stay fit

We know that Dwayne Johnson is one of the hardest-working people in all of Hollywood, on camera and off. Have you ever seen him take a break or get some downtime for himself while on set?

Joseph Lee Anderson: We never actually filmed together on set. I was here earlier; I got to Memphis early and saw some filming, and it doesn't stop. It's crazy seeing it in action. Doesn't stop.

Stacey Leilua: I haven't seen him, so ...

Ana Tuisila: I met him when he came on set, and he is bigger than what you think he is. Physically, emotionally, and just seeing him in the room, he has a great presence. I can't answer about how he rests, but he's hardworking, and we hope that we portray that in the way we do our work in this series.

Joseph, you play Rocky at several different stages of life, but in real life, Dwayne is old enough to be your dad. What have you learned from him?

Anderson: I've learned a lot. Every time he posts the workouts he does [on Instagram], I take them and I go incorporate them. That drive and that hard work [ethic] he has — it has definitely helped me with my physical fitness journey.

You do his workouts? How does that go?

Anderson: I don't know his exact regimen, but he'll do some different leg exercise that I may have never seen before, and I definitely take them. Whatever he posts, I'm taking it.

Leilua connects with Ata on an emotional level

Stacey, as Dwayne's on-screen mother, you're kind of the grounded parent. How hands-on has the real Dwayne been in helping you bring Ata to life? And what's your favorite part of playing her?

Leilua: My favorite part of playing Ata ... It's an unwavering support that I like to think that I also have as a mother myself. You go through the trials, and that is what I love about being able to see through the timelines. Also, being able to speak with D.J. and Ata before getting into filming the role — that helped, having those conversations.

When the show came out, it was a really big learning experience for a lot of people because they suddenly got to see this man who's larger than life — he's successful, he's rich, all these things. To be able to open that up and show the beginnings was awesome. That's my favorite part, to generalize playing the role. Being in the show actually highlights the challenges and the hardships and how every time he overcame them and pushed through, [he went] on to something better. There are a lot of lessons that can be learned in that for everyone.

The real Dwayne is very close to his mother. Was stepping into her shoes a daunting task for you?

Leilua: When I got cast, you have these moments of going, "Oh my gosh." We would have a look through his Instagram and the things that he was putting out there. You get a bit nervous because [Ata is] still a huge part of his life and very involved in things he does, and he's this massive success.

Once we got to speak with them, that [nervousness] goes away because, without taking away from her and who she is as a mom, there are so many similarities [between] Ata as a mom and me as a mom, or my friends as mothers, or my own mother, or Ana. Mothers have this quality that is very consistent with how Ata was written as a character. They want the best for their children. They want their children to succeed. They want to love their child and protect them and teach them the ropes and the ways of life. All those things were very much the day-to-day stuff that I was familiar with [and] I knew from other people.

That helped to bring it away from "Oh my gosh, she's Ata Johnson, the mother of Dwayne" [so] it was more about making it real and relatable for me and portraying that on-screen. Getting feedback from the real Ata, like, "That was spot on. That was me. That's exactly how it was," made me think, "Cool. Perfect. We did that right." It's about taking it from this big thing down to what's at the core of it, and I think we did that with the show.

Tuisila thinks the '80s are the 'most fun' era on the show

Ana, what's your favorite era of the show to work on — '80s, '90s, beyond — and why? Is it the clothing styles, the storyline, the general nostalgia?

Tuisila: I like the '80s. I think they were the most fun, and it's Dwayne's beginnings. The '80s were more exciting and more colorful, and it's set in Hawaii. So that era I can relate to because that's when it first started. I can relate to the '80s, the dress, the atmosphere in Hawaii. Although [it was] not filmed there, I can relate to that. I feel it is most authentic in terms of Lia starting off the business.

Joseph, the show features you interacting with so many WWF legends — Hulk Hogan, André the Giant, The Iron Sheik, the list goes on. What has been the funniest or most memorable moment from the set when it comes to the wrestling storylines?

Anderson: It's been very fun just doing the moves and wrestling. It's all things you grow up doing as a kid [to] your little brother, but I can't pinpoint one thing because it's all been such a crazy dream come true.

In general, what's the most fun part of working on the show?

Anderson: Probably joking around with everybody in between takes. I'm a big prankster. I'm always messing with people, so that's fun for me.

And you, Stacey?

Leilua: I'd probably have to say the same thing. That also serves to help us build the wonderful sense of rapport and camaraderie that you see on the screen as a family.

Ana, would you agree?

Tuisila: Just being involved in Dwayne Johnson's life and wrestling [career] — because I grew up in the [heyday of the] wrestling era — being in this whole production is beyond words. I can't pinpoint one or two [things]. It's been surreal, everything.

Working with Chavo Guerrero is 'top tier'

My last question is for Joseph. Chavo Guerrero has been the fight coordinator/trainer on "Young Rock" for years, and during your last interview with Looper, you called him "one of the boys" and spoke fondly of him. Now that you've been working with him for three seasons, have you noticed a different approach in how he trains you since you are more experienced and know each other better?

Anderson: Now, [he's] like, "Hey, Joe, do this, do that," and I'm like, "Okay, cool." It's second [nature] now. He trained us so well. Even coming back, I was like, "Yo, Chavo, can we get a refresher course?" And he was like, "All right, do ..." He was calling it out, and [I'm] like, "Oh, yeah, I remember you showing us this." His training is top level, top tier.

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.