Everybody knows Dwayne Johnson as The Rock from his pro wrestling career, but he also had a less dynamic nickname in his earlier days: Dewey.
That nickname comes up in the new NBC sitcom "Young Rock" (Feb. 16, 8 EST/PST), which chronicles the formative years of Johnson, now a top movie star known for the "Jumanji" and "Fast & Furious" franchises. In the 11-episode first season, three actors play the younger Johnson at 10 (Adrian Groulx), 15 (Bradley Constant) and 18 (Uli Latukefu).
Johnson, who will appear in each episode and is an executive producer, explained how he got the less high-profile nickname during a Television Critics Association Zoom panel for "Young Rock" on Tuesday.
"When I was a little baby, I was with my godparents. I was probably, from what I'm told, 6 months old. And my mom had said to my godmother, 'Is his diaper wet?' She goes, 'No. He's just a little dewy,'" Johnson said, snapping his fingers and laughing. (His mother, Ata Johnson, offered a similar but somewhat different derivation during a 2018 "Good Morning America" appearance.)
The nickname may not have been quite as funny to him growing up, however.
"In my existence for years, when my parents would come around in front of my girlfriends or friends or anyone, (it was), 'Hey, Dewey!' automatically," he remembered. "Because it's not like that's a powerful name. Automatically, people were like, 'Oh, God.'"
As the show's stars and producers laughed, one panelist responded sardonically, "OK, Dewey," and another replied, "So cute" – seemingly proving his point.