When we see a muscle-bound actor, our first instinct is to wonder just exactly how they got to be so big. While our optimistic sides might believe it came purely from a strict diet and exercise regimen, our pessimistic sides are bound to conjure up the dreaded “S” word: steroids. One of our biggest stars in terms of box office appeal is also one of our biggest stars in terms of size, and he’s had to answer that question before.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson first came to fame as a professional wrestler before broadening his appeal as a film actor. From his debut as the Scorpion King in “The Mummy Returns” to his success in the “Fast and the Furious” franchise and comedies like “Central Intelligence”, Johnson has proven himself as a serious draw. It’s no surprise Johnson was the highest paid actor of last year.
If there’s one thing Johnson will be remembered for above all else, it’s his muscles. At 44 years old, Johnson still boasts an impressive physique. In 2013, he starred alongside Mark Wahlberg in “Pain & Gain” as a steroid-addled bodybuilder turned criminal. It only seems fair to wonder if Johnson was as juiced up as his character.
During press rounds for the Michael Bay directed film, Johnson was asked by USA Today’s Bryan Alexander about steroid usage during the film. Johnson swiftly denied any use of steroids while filming, as did his co-star Wahlberg.
While Johnson denies using steroids currently, he has admitted to using them in his past. As a football player at the University of Miami, Johnson said he tried steroids with teammates. “We didn’t know what we were taking or if anything worked,” Johnson said.
If Johnson copped to using performance enhancing drugs to prepare for that role or any others, it would be dispiriting, but not entirely unheard of. Arnold Schwarzenegger has admitted to using steroids in the past. However, the use of steroids by famous figures, particularly athletes, has become much more widely scrutinized in recent years. There is a long history of substance abuse in sports and film, often requiring intervention with addiction treatment. Star cyclist Lance Armstrong had to forfeit multiple awards, including seven Tour de France victories, following revelations of doping.
Athletes like Armstrong are particularly vilified for using steroids as it gives them a clear, unfair advantage. It’s hard to argue the same for actors, as the quality of a performance is rarely judged on the virtue of how big their muscles are. It can be seen as a disappointment, however, that an actor we admire felt the need to cut corners so severely rather than put in an effort. If news came out Johnson had used steroids in recent years, it could put a severe blemish on his reputation. After all, he’s amassed millions of fans. He wouldn’t want to risk losing them with a deliberate lie.