Six Months Before ‘Moana 2,’ Dwayne Johnson Shocks Fans With Unrecognizable Appearance

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Dwayne Johnson shocked in Jumanji

Credit: Columbia Pictures

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is proving to be as solid as his name suggests. Despite a turbulent 2022, the professional wrestler turned Hollywood actor is once again causing heads to turn, and this time, it’s because of his unrecognizable new look.

Dwayne Johnson as John Hartley in Red Notice
Credit: Netflix

Dwayne Johnson, son of Rocky Johnson and the wrestler who rose to international prominence during the “Attitude Era” of WWF (now WWE), is perhaps even more widely known now for his many commercially successful film roles–a career that began with The Mummy Returns (2001) and The Scorpion King (2002) where he starred alongside Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz.

From early appearances in the likes of The Game Plan (2007), Race to Witch Mountain (2009), and Tooth Fairy (2010) to his role as Luke Hobbs in the Fast & Furious franchise–beginning with 2011’s Fast Five–and other actions projects like Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017), and 2018’s Rampage and Skyscraper, Johnson is a household name and Hollywood heavyweight.

Dwayne Johnson as Luke Hobbs in the Fast & Furious franchise
Credit: Universal Pictures

Alas, his star power would face critique in 2022 after the box office bomb of Jaume Collet-Serra’s Black Adam, a new addition to the troubled DC Extended Universe from DC Studios. With Johnson’s weight behind it, the collapse of Black Adam highlighted Johnson’s apparent self-serving behavior–something Shazam! franchise star Zachary Levi seemingly confirmed later that year.

His return to WWE, of which he is a board member of the parent company TKO Group Holdings, earlier this year sparked both excitement and suspicion. On the one hand, this wrestling titan had come home, but on the other, his return was seen as optics to redirect the negativity created by his recent box office failings.

A muscular Dwayne Johnson in a tank top raising his right arm in a triumphant gesture, standing in a blue-lit arena. He has a tattoo on his left arm and is smiling confidently.
Credit: WWE

Following Black Adam, 2023 saw Johnson appear in just Fast X in an uncredited cameo capacity. His next big project will be this year’s Moana 2 (2024), a sequel to the massive Disney hit Moana (2016).

But before Moana 2 can set sail once again this November, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson has gone viral online after a new look of the actor debuted.

dwayne johnson as maui in moana singing you're welcome by lin-manuel miranda
Credit: Disney

Amid his return as the demigod Maui in Moana–both the sequel and 2026’s live-action event–over at Disney, Johnson will also play wrestler and mixed martial arts icon Mark Kerr in A24’s The Smashing Machine (TBD). Directed by Benny Safdie, The Smashing Machine will also star Johnson’s Jungle Cruise (2021) co-star Emily Blunt as Kerr’s wife, Dawn Staples.

On May 21, 2024, A24 shared a first-look image of Johnson as Mark Kerr, surprising everyone.

First look at Benny Safdie’s THE SMASHING MACHINE starring @TheRock and Emily Blunt.

Related: Fans Can’t Believe New ‘Moana’ Look With Zendaya and Dwayne Johnson

The image garnered a major response, with commenters sharing thoughts on Johnson’s look and his inclusion in an A24 movie–a studio often lauded for its drama output. The actor recently shared his behind-the-scenes training regime for his new role.

The Smashing Machine is produced by Out for the Count and Johnson’s own banner, Seven Bucks Productions, which he co-founded with ex-wife Dany Garcia in 2012. It does not yet have a release date and is unlikely to come out before Johnson’s return as Maui in Moana 2.

Moana and Maui
Credit: Disney

The sequel to Moana was announced earlier in 2024 and will see the Moana Disney+ show reworked into a feature film sequel, released exclusively in movie theaters. Auliʻi Cravalho will reprise her role of Moana, joining Johnson’s Maui on a new wayfaring adventure.

Prior to the announcement of Moana 2, Johnson teamed up with The Walt Disney Company Chief Executive Officer Bob Iger to announce the live-action adaptation of Moana, originally coming out in 2025 but now shifted to 2026, seemingly to accommodate the animated Moana 2 release.

Dwayne Johnson as Mathayus of Akkad in 'The Scorpion King'
Credit: Universal Pictures

Related: Disney Buries Live-Action ‘Snow White’ With New Princess

Johnson shared the news from the island of Oahu back in April 2023. It was later confirmed Cravalho would not be returning to play Moana, but would be serving as executive producer. Thomas Kail will direct, and Seven Bucks Productions will produce alongside Disney. The Moana live-action movie is slated to be released on July 26, 2026.

What do you think of Dwayne Johnson’s new appearance? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments down below!

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